Monday, January 3, 2011

Those proud moments...

I spend alot of time thinking about what to write.  I assume, maybe wrongly, that all bloggers do that in some fashion or another and the new ones...well, they must.  Sometimes I come up with good ideas and then sit down and realize I don't have anything worthwhile to say about a subject.  Then I think about what subjects I know and can come up with only a few.  I am a mother, of teenagers, a wife, a nurse, a pet owner and a terrible housekeeper.  Those subjects, while they consume my life, can only be written about so much and then even I don't want to hear it.  What else am I?  Well, I used to be an athlete, a crafter (for a short time) and avid reader but I no longer think of myself as those things.  So, of the things I am, what am I proud of?  I am proud of my family...kids and home the most.  But to be honest, I am proud of being a nurse and the proudest nursing job I ever had was being a hospice nurse.

When my mother was dying back in 1996, my father called and said, "this is it."  I flew into her town to be with her before she died.  She had been battling  lung cancer for about a year and not winning.  It was her time I guess.  She was in the hospital and wanted to go home.  My family gathered at her kitchen table and decided that she deserved to come home if that is what she wanted.  So, the next day, after some fancy talking, we were wheeling her out of that hospital to take her home.  I was never so scared in my life.  I knew that she wanted to be home but I didn't really know what to do with a person who was going to die soon.  I mean, yes, I'm a nurse but I help people live...not die, or so I thought.

We took her to the house and she had to be carried in.  My sister and I carried her in and put her in the recliner in the livingroom.  We covered her up and turned the TV on.  Obviously, we weren't thinking right because as soon as my father gave us a minute, we left and went to Target and wandered around.  To this day, I don't know what we were thinking.  We came back and made her favorite dinner...fried shrimp and sauted garlic green beans.  She started to perk up and get sassy and we didn't see that it was her rally cry.  I got her ready for bed in the hospital bed in the livingroom.  She settled in for the night and decided she needed to get up again.  "Ma, I just put you to bed...you don't need to get up"...to which my father said, "let her get up and have a cigarette at the kitchen table..."Mother, do you want to smoke a butt before bed,' to which she replied "yes" .  I got her up and my mother and father sat at the table together.  I remember looking at them and thinking...they won't get to do this after she is gone.  Little did I know.  After she had her cigarette, I put her back to bed and tucked her in for a good night's sleep.

The next morning, we got up and I started to get her going.  She's not dying today I thought and put her in the shower.  I finished her shower and wheeled her to the table.  "Get mommy a cup of cofee" I yelled to my sister, and "let's get her a cigarette."  "I don't want coffee and I don't want a cigarette" she said.  "Ma, what are you crazy?" I said and laughed.  Then I looked in her eyes and knew.  "I want to lay down" she said.  Yes she did.  We put her in bed and we sat with her.  She was done...it was time and she would not get out of that bed again.  All day, we sat with her as she quietly slept and became more unresponsive.  I told my father that I thought this was it...can you believe that?  Who am I to tell him that but I really believed it.  We called the family to say good bye.  All day we sat at different times at her bedside, watching TV, reading the paper, holding her hand and talking to each other...waiting.  But waiting for what...what is this going to look like?  I had seen people die before but my own mother...I didn't even understand what was going on.  We sat all day, and sat until late into the night.  I can't remember if we ate anything, but knowing me, I just ate the whole time.  Anyway, I finally asked my father if he wanted to go to bed...he was exhausted and thought that he would lay down for awhile.  I told my sister the same thing...I am going to lay down and call me if you need me.  My sister sat next to my mother holding her hand.  For a few minutes she fell asleep and when she woke up, my mother was gone.  She came to the room I was staying in...."Terry, I think Mommy is gone...I fell asleep and she isn't breathing anymore".  I jumped up and my sister was right.  She was gone...we were there but she had to do it alone, I guess.  The rest is a blur but we did all the things you do when you lose someone you love.  We also got through it.  At the time, I second guessed our decision to take her home.  Could they have done something to keep her around, I thought.

After time passed and I started to heal, I realized what a gift it was to have her at home.  We sat and talked at her bedside, we held her hand, we said what we needed to say...yes, her death at home was a gift.

A few years later, I got a job at a hospice working as a nurse.  I loved that job and felt a kinship to all the families going through what I had gone through.  I knew what they felt, in a way, and wanted to help them have the thankfulness after a while like I did.  I would treat each patient like they were my family and love them through the sadness.  I did that for 5 years and am now taking a break.  I miss the nursing and loving part and will do that again.  I am just waiting for the right time to dive back in...and I know I will.

Why am I even telling this story...I don't know to be honest.  I miss my mother.  She was a "tough" woman but I loved her.  I don't think I told her that.  The funny thing is...I am alot like her.  I am a "tough" woman too.  I guess I learned from the best. 

So tonight, tell someone you love them if you do...drink your water, pee alot...and live your life.  Don't wait around for someone to live it for you...because things will happen for sure that you didn't plan...anyway, just a few thoughts before I go to bed.

Love you all,
We'll tawk later,


Mel's Way or No Way said...

I do the same thing...think up something to write about and then realize I don't know what to say.

Thank you for sharing the story of you mother. It really was a gift for you to have those last moments with her in the home she was comfortable in.

Ms. Moon said...

Terry, you are blowing me away with your writing. You are a gift.
Home death and home birth. I believe fervently in both. There to here, here to there- so much the same.
You did such a good job with your mother. You gave her her dying wish which was to die at home.
And you have helped so many others do the same.
You are living your life RIGHT!