Feb 12th, 2019 4:30 am my Mother left her body for her next adventure.
It is a hazy time now. I am not really seeing things clearly at times. It’s like after a tornado finally passes and you stand in the rubble going…..woa.
The last couple of months of her life my Mom became more and more miserable and debilitated. It was so painful to watch and I cannot fathom of how painful it was for her to live through.
I am not sure what happens after we leave here. I have my beliefs and I constantly question them. So, to have my Mother stepping closer and closer to the precipice of ‘not here’ was uncomfortable, hard, challenging, frustrating and overwhelming. I walked the 6 minutes from my house to hers practically everyday. I sat with her as she struggled with her failing body, as she told me how miserable she was, as she questioned why she had to live like that. I held her hand. I told her I loved her. I followed up on her ‘complaints’ with the staff. I did everything I could to support this long difficult journey she was taking out of this life. It was emotionally draining. I was wracked with grief – even though I am not sure I was completely aware of that as I went through it.
As long as I have been aware of these kinds of things, my Mother was never really invested in her own well being – but I was. It was selfish really – when she passed I wanted to know I did everything I could to make sure she had been cared for with kindness and compassion, that there were no medical procedures she would not want, and that we were close enough to watch over her care.
Do you know how hard it is to invest in someone who doesn’t invest in themself? I never could figure out if it was the meningiomas or just her personality. Does it even matter?
Cat and I took care of my Mom for 12 years. Yes – 12 years. Of course it had ups and downs and the last year was really the toughest. But 12 years – being held hostage by a tiny dictator who would not do anything to improve her own quality of life. Are you sensing a bit of resentment? Yep – and I can own it. I am not pretending it was all love and sweetness those 4380 days. Don’t get me wrong – I was honored to be there for my Mom. AND it was HARD.
The thing is, as those years ticked by I didn’t know the toll all of it was taking on me, my dear Cat, and our relationship. Our life was lived around Shirley. I look at pictures of myself 10 years ago and today – WOW! I have aged.
I am so grateful for Sofia and her team of caregivers. The care my Mom received here was amazing. One caregiver for my Mom and one other women. In the US the ratio is often one caregiver for up to 18 people. That never worked out well when we were in the states. The team here is literally family. In the US – underpaid, under appreciated immigrants most of the time ‘cared for her (if you could even call it that). It was absolutely the right decision to move us all down here to get the best situation for her and us. For the first time in years, I didn’t worry about her when I wasn’t with her. I could actually relax and not jump every time the phone rang.
I am grateful my Mom set herself up financially to cover all her needs.
I am grateful I am smart and resourceful, so I could find her retirement benefit she wasn’t collecting when I jumped in to start caring for her, to get her VA benefits she was not utilizing, and to take care of all the details of those numerous hospital and rehab stays that I managed the paperwork for.
I am eternally grateful for and to Cat. She put up with all of it, pitched in on more than could have ever been expected and sat with my Mom the last three weeks of her life while I was in the US.
Throughout this last year and all the close calls with death she had, Cat and I both wondered if I was anchoring her here in this life. Was she staying because she was tethered to me? When my recent trip to Austin rolled around there were conversations about her condition, should I stay, how should we handle it? Together Cat and I made the decision I should go. It could give my Mom the freedom to let go. She said she wanted to die, she said she wasn’t afraid. I asked her if she had unfinished business….no she said. Then why was she still here? Maybe it was our connection. So off I went to Austin.
And my Mom died the day I was coming back to San Miguel. It was only 14 hours before I would walk back into her room.
Of course now I grapple with all my decisions, question what I did or didn’t do. I am still invested in her.
Here is a video of us just over a year ago.