Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Day My Mother Said Goodbye to Me

I found something wonderful in my document file today. I wrote it a year ago, after discovering my mother had been trapped in a hospital for five days without the notification of her family. When I found her there, I showed the treating physician her Advance Directive, and he promptly ordered hospice care for her (she had developed pneumonia while at the hospital) and released her back to her care home. This is what I wrote on the afternoon of her release:

Out of these five long years spent by you in the relentless grip of Alzheimer’s Disease, when mostly what I’ve known of you is summed up in “disintegration,” I want to remember how you glowed today as we made plans for your dying. Your small, dwindled self lay curled on your bed and barely rumpled the spread, but your face was beautiful, in its ancient joy to see me. You stared up at me in blue-eyed brightness, as you listened, heard, and answered in your right brain, not your wrong one. You smiled and smiled at me, and at the staff that attends your death, and over and over you said, “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

I asked you how you felt, and you said, beaming, “It’s wonderful!” It was wonderful to have you back among the living for those few hours, after we had signed the orders to let you die. You laughed about eating ice cream for lunch, and you held my hand.

At one point you looked up at me, as I leaned over you saying something to you, and you reached up both hands and laid them softly on my face, cupping it in your hands. We smiled at each other. Were you saying goodbye, Mom? I understood your message of love, and gratitude maybe, or maybe just a cherishing of me. It made my spirit soar. I will remember this, Mom.

After Alzheimer’s destroyed you,
you had one glowing day, clear as sunshine,
when your blue eyes twinkled at me.
Your face was beautiful in its ancient joy.
You reached up and cupped my face
in your hands, smiling and studying me.
It’s wonderful you said, and I knew
what you meant.


20 comments:

Teri and the cats of Curlz and Swirlz said...

You are so fortunate to have that special memory...it pushes the storms aside...

The Bug said...

This is so beautiful Chris. I hope Mike can have such a moment when he goes down to be with his mother later this week.

Indigo said...

This was heartfelt. So beautiful. What a wonderful memory to hold close to you. (Hugs)Indigo

Kristin H. said...

This one brings tears to my eyes. You have been through quite a lot, my dear.

Steve E said...

The most beautiful, emotional, sentimental post for me tonight, Chris!

RNSANE said...

This really touches me, Chris, because, of course, I've followed all the love and pain of your mother's suffering through the stupidity of her hospitalzation and their failure to follow the wishes of her advanced directive and your lack of knowedge, even, of where she was. The picture you describe here is most precious.

Andrew said...

All the very best to you dear one.

Shadow said...

tears with a smile... very heartfelt!

Lou said...

Oh, Chris!

I have been putting off a phone call for selfish reasons--but today I will call my mother, and tell her I love her very much.

Shakespeare said...

Thank you for sharing this. And how important for both of you to have that memory. I'm sure she carries it with her, as well.

Bob said...

This is just beautiful :') xxx <3

Magpie said...

What a wonderful memory...I'm glad your mom is at peace.

Monkey Man said...

Outstanding.

the walking man said...

fitting memorial!

ScottF said...

Chris, so beautiful... I don't know what else to say but to thank you for sharing this incredibly intimate moment.

Kim A. said...

After just getting back from a rather challenging week with my mother, I take heart in being reminded by you that i can choose to remember the times that brought us together. Your words made it into my heart today. Your mom shines through you♥

Namaste

Jess Mistress of Mischief said...

beautiful!

Margaret said...

This captures the beauty of life, of love. I'm thankful you wrote it and grateful I stumbled upon it.

e said...

This brought a tear to my eye!

Syd said...

Chris, this is beautiful and so touching to me. I am going through some hard times lately with elderly loved ones who are beginning a downward slide. I am so glad that you had that day with your mother.

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