My mother died nine years ago this month after a two-week stay at hospice. She was hauled in by my sisters by ambulance to the hospital across the way and told she needed another surgery. She said no. Hospice was run by her pain medication specialist and they treated her very well. All the kids were there every day, all day except lunch time when she was bathed so we went out. By the end she weighed about 47 lbs. and had enough morphine to kill a small horse. But she carried on.
The “kids,” four of us and my husband, had an all-night disagreement about whether to allow a priest to come in for last rites. I advocated for it, they disagreed. I believe my husband wisely was silent in the matter. They finally agreed that if Mom wanted it, she could have it. First thing next morning I asked the hospice chaplain to ask Mom. I said she never liked me very much and I would rather it come from a neutral party. Mom said yes.
The night before, we were having a glass of wine and my brother was sipping a Guinness when we agreed. In order to lighten the mood I pretended to be a Father McGuinness (just because of the beer) with an Irish lilt. None of us are Catholic and no-one knew any priests out there.
In the hospice room I left to use the facilities down the hall and my name was called out, by a priest. He said I’m Father McGuinness. OMG. I had no idea who they’d send! He turned out to be her parish priest, right down the road!
Dad was very ill but still in good spirits when I last saw him. He died over the holidays. We swapped stories for days. I think he knew what was in store for him and when his partner of 25 years was out of the bedroom for a few moments he asked me about Mom’s last days. I started telling him but did not wish to talk about my mother in front of her lest I offend. I got a quarter way through the above story and she came back in. I said so that’s enough of that story! What do you have for me?
I regret that I could never give him the information he wanted.
It’s funny that my husband is a pallbearer at many family funerals yet he does not want to be around when a pet dies. I’ve never been a pallbearer but have held my pets as they died.
When Mom died at 4:00 a.m. my time I awakened the same moment, 1,500 miles away, just jumped up in bed. I got dressed and took my phone and the dog for a long walk and awaited the call which came about two hours later when my sisters got there.
I tried to go to Thanksgiving last year and my brother said no. “He is no longer the man you knew, the father you knew.” It’s a slippery slope when you lose your parents.
Dad died at 4:00 a.m. in December 2016. I got the call a while later. I took the same old dog out. Ran into the concierge and told her. She sent my Three Musketeers (I’m their D’Artagnan now) to console me. At eight Ed came over with two red roses and a note, tag team V showed up and “allowed” me to cook him eggs and bacon and toast, then R showed up and admired Dad’s art work. Yes, Dad took up painting at age 80. All I did was frame them. My husband was 1,500 miles away that day and for the funeral so it was good to have my buddies around, Athos, Porthos and Aramis.
My dear dog and I are probably next. I would rather focus on other things. Dee