“I am sorry, she has been through enough. I think it’s time we bring Hospice in.” Those words echo in my mind. This is it. I have weeks left with the woman that shaped me, led me, counseled me, and sometimes annoyed the hell out of me. MY MOM IS REALLY GOING TO DIE!! I immediately took leave from my job at the antique store I was failing miserable at managing. Not a hard decision but it put a grave financial burden on my husband and family.
During the eight weeks we were in hospice care, I devoted every thought to Mom. For six of those weeks, I drove a half hour each and every morning to make the most of the time she had left. Once or twice a week I would spend the night to give Gary a good night sleep. It was also a selfish move of mine to gain even a few more hours with her, hoping for a 2 am rally. The middle of the night rallies were spent having a nail party, trying to hammer out the details of the funeral, recording love notes to each of us six kids, talking about both good and bad memories of her past.
2 am parties on the farmMom:
“What if this is all fake?”
Me: “You mean like a bad dream?”
Me: “ I would love it. That way, we could wake up from it.” #cancersucks #baddream #cancer #warrior #strength #motherdaughter #bestfriends”
Our days were filled with shopping, car washes, shopping, lunch with friends, shopping. Then there were the lists. Lists upon list were waiting for me each day upon arrival. There was Mom, sitting in her chair by the dining room table, gazing quietly out at their land. Looking at her, you would think she was deep in thought. I would ask, “What are ya thinking, Ma?” Her response was always, “Nothing.” I knew better. Watching her eyes dart, different expressions cross her face, finally, picking up her pen to write something down.
The main thing she had lists for was her funeral.
- Have a casket built
- Get the video done
- Find a funeral home
- Find a church that would allow the Hospice Chaplain to perform the ceremony.
- Order of service
- Clothes to the dry cleaners
- Outfits for both she and Gary hung neatly in the closet
Not a detail was left undone. At first, it was devastating to talk about. “How can I do this? How can I plan my mom’s funeral??” It then became my mission. During the 2 am rallies we would scan the internet for the perfect casket, the perfect flower arrangements for kids and grandkids, find a nearby church for the service, a funeral home to organize it all.
There were some things she requested that were impossible to accomplish before she passed. We always added those to the “later list”, like her request to the chicken salad done two weeks before she even passed away or to get the flowers ordered. One by one, we crossed items off the “list” and, as we did so, I could see her becoming more and more at peace. I knew the end was near.
Our last shopping trip was to her Mecca, TJ Maxx. She didn’t need anything, we had already bought Christmas decorations, several pairs of pajamas, leggings and a couple sweaters. Her mission this day? “Happy Socks” for Gary. Her Oncologist, Dr. Buroker, always wore happy socks and she wanted Gary to have some. Getting her in and out of the car was not as easy as it had been in prior trips. Her legs were weak and her feet were not communicating with her brain.
The cancer was progressing. Once she willed herself to stand, she would command, “Move feet!” and her foot would turn slightly to allow for her to enter the car. My own arm and hand were used as a sliding board to prevent her from falling. All buckled into the passenger seat, covered in her ever present security blanket, I would pack the wheelchair in the hatch and we were off. Our first stop was always Casey’s for a chocolate donut and French Vanilla Cappuccino.
On the way home, she wanted to do another of our famous car wash videos but she had to pee. It was now a race to the toilet. Keep in mind, the same process to get into the car, now had to be slowly repeated to exit the car. After Gary took care of the bathroom duty, we bundled Mom up to the newly hung porch swing Gary had hung while we were gone. A moment I will never forget. A final date night between soul mates. It was so endearing and beautiful as I watched from the kitchen window, giving them a couple of moments alone.
Then came the fall….