My mother has died and that is the recurring thought in my head.
Her death was not exactly unexpected. She had been in a nursing home for several years, deteriorating at a snail’s pace. On my annual visits, my brother and I would question the wisdom of stockpiling old people in places like this. Making sure they took their medications, feeding them, parking them in front of televisions, keeping them alive. For what?
The quality of my mother’s life appeared to be nil. She couldn’t hear (as her hearing aids had disappeared). She couldn’t see (macular degeneration and Glaucoma). She couldn’t go anywhere except from her room to the dining room and lobby. The last year or so, she was confined to a wheelchair. She didn’t know anyone. Couldn’t carry on a conversation. Mostly she slept.
Watching a parent decline
is no fun
Watching a parent decline is no fun, and I was fortunate I did not bear the brunt of that. My brother dealt with the details of her care, visiting her several times a week. Another brother oversaw her finances. I flew in for brief stays once a year, flew home, and did little else, except ask after her in phone calls.
For several years, the answer never changed. “She’s about the same.”
But when she ended up in the hospital for a severe urinary tract infection and a bowel blockage, it was the beginning of the end. Her appetite declined. She slept even more. Became even less communicative. Then she fell out of her wheelchair and banged up her face.
After years of “no change” things sped up. The hospice nurse indicates “it won’t be long now.” My brother spends the night with Mom, but leaves when once again there’s little change.
The text comes at 2:20 a.m. the next day. “Mom passed away.” Followed by a flurry of texts between my brothers and me about flights and funeral arrangements.
One of God’s bittersweet mercies…
The priest describes Mom’s passing as “one of God’s bittersweet mercies.” Is that what we have been praying for all these years? We’ve tried to understand why her life lasted so long, but we won’t ever understand. It’s so much easier to resign ourselves to the belief that it was all part of God’s plan.
Perhaps it was less about Mom and more about us. For in the passing of our brother, our father, and now our mother, my brothers and I have come together and built relationships with each other we never had before. Or maybe it was the opportunity for us to build connections with our cousins and other extended family.
Don’t question divine purpose. Accept the bittersweet mercy of God taking home a servant whose life had meaning and purpose.
We’ve already mourned. We come now to say goodbye.