Tuesday, October 19, 2004

My Mother


The train seemed to inch its way across the country, from California to New York State – three days and three nights, then another day because it was eight hours late reaching my destination. I had no cell phone, therefore I could not call my sister to check on my mother, until I reached Toledo. I rushed into the station to let Dottie know that she should do other things that day, until I reached the station where I would leave the train and attempt to catch a bus to a city near her home. The bus was an hour late, also, so things were not going well at all. I did not have a chance to see my mother that day.

During the night, Mom was taken to the hospital in the ambulance, as she had fallen again and couldn’t get off the kitchen floor. She had a Lifeline bracelet, and could push the button to summon help. Dottie did not wake me, as she knew I was tired. When I woke up, I found a note from her stating that she was at the hospital, and would return to get me.

I saw my mother for the first time when the ambulance returned her to her home, that day. They had kept her over night, but sent her home because they couldn’t do anything for her. It was the first I had seen her in almost a year.

I had originally planned on going to New York State in July, but my mother was getting worse, and I decided that I needed to be there. I couldn’t go in May, because I had a flu-type illness, and I wanted to be sure that I had recovered. At the end of April, Mom had fallen, spent the night on the floor, and suffered a fractured pelvis. She spent three weeks in the hospital, and was not in very good condition at all.

Her biggest problem was that she had barely any circulation in her left foot and leg. She had the artery replaced in her right leg years before that, but it was too late to do anything about the left leg. Gangrene would eventually set in and it would be the end.

I was able to spend two weeks with Mom, helping my three sisters take care of her. It was difficult, as we are not nurses, and didn’t always know exactly what to do. It became a case of helping her with medications, meals, housekeeping, but most of all, companionship. There were times when she mostly slept, because of the pain medication. At other times, she was very alert and wanted to visit, to look at her flowers that we had brought to her from her garden, and to sit looking out the sliding glass doors at plants a sister brought to her from the store where she works.

The day before she returned to the hospital because she could no longer stand the agony, she was showing me the tags from plants and bushes that she had saved in a shoe box for years, with dates and the names of the people that had given them to her. This was precipitated by a bouquet I made for her with one of her favorite lilies, and a blossom from “Garden Party”, a rose bush that I had given her years earlier.

The next night, she was in such pain that we could no longer do anything for her. My nephew talked her into going in the ambulance once again, and he rode with her. He is with a fire department and has worked on ambulances. My three sisters, a brother, and his wife, all went to the emergency room, and had to insist that they keep her this time, stating that we could not care for her. We knew it was time, time for the morphine drip. Her foot and leg were so bad, that it hurt all of us to look at it.

It was around 1:00 A.M. by then, so they finally checked her in and planned to put her in a room soon. Her general practitioner showed up, and couldn’t believe how much she had deteriorated. The vascular surgeon’s assistant seemed to be more involved with her care at that point. Around mid-day, they started the morphine drip and removed all medications, and nourishment. She still managed to be in and out of consciousness, and speak to some of us in whispers – alert almost to the end. I believe she knew that not all of her eight children had made it to see her yet.

Many children and grandchildren were in and out of her room, keeping vigil, as it were. She went into the hospital Wednesday night, and took her last breaths Sunday night. Everyone had gone to a small lounge to eat fast food, but I went back to the room to get a small can of pop, courtesy of the hospital. I met one sister in the hall. She was just returning from her home. She went into the room with me and I went up to the bed to give my mother another morphine push, then noticed that her breathing was completely different. I walked outside the door to get her nurse, then quickly went back to the bedside to spend my mother’s last few minutes on this earth talking to her, comforting her. My sister stood at the foot of the bed, then decided to go get the others from the lounge.

I was so happy that I was the one to be with my mother, kissing her goodbye. I was afraid that I would not be able to get there in time, and, after all, I am the first-born.


  • At 8:38 AM, October 20, 2004, Blogger Kitten said…

    How strange Rita. I had just finished writting a simalar post, a sad one that is, about my baby daughter who passed when she was six days old. I find writting cathartic. It was good to put it down on "Paper".

  • At 10:17 AM, October 20, 2004, Blogger Rita Xavier said…

    I am so sorry that you lost your baby daughter. Daughters are wonderful. In 1960 my cousin Barbara's baby daughter died because she was RH negative. Barbara has 3 sons. My oldest son was born at the same time that Barbara's girl was born.

    I wrote the piece about my mother for writing class. Our assignment was to write about a parent. My instructor had talked about writing things down on paper to "get them out" as a kind of therapy.

  • At 3:26 PM, November 02, 2004, Blogger gammamoma said…

    How wonderful you were there and were able to tell her how much she meant to you. I was not so fortunate and i wrote about it in my blog. It is so hard to see someone you love suffer like you did, but harder yet to not be able to share their last days on this earth with them too! Your writings are intriguing and i will bookmark yours so I can read on. Keep on bloging!


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