Tag Archives: End of Life issues

Fourth Sunday

It is Sunday afternoon.  Mama’s bird is singing in the sun room.  I collapsed on my chair, the exhaustion of the week caught up with me and I slept a restless sleep.  The music that is playing quietly is Classical Lullabies by Fisher Price, and Certain Man is kicked back in his lazy-boy, sleeping soundly.  He came down with a bad cold and sore throat and needs the sleep even more than I do.  Lena is quietly here, doing something on her computer.  Middle Daughter is sleeping, getting ready for an evening shift with Delaware Hospice.  Youngest Daughter is in Chicago, believe it or not, spending time learning to know one of her daddy’s cousin and his family, Dan and Heather Yutzy and their precocious five year old, Kiran.  Rachel actually went to Chicago for the bachelorette party for her friend, Anna, whose wedding is coming up in a few weeks, but it has been a grand week for God happenings, and this Mama gives grateful praise.

I am just ready to head out to Country Rest Home.  My brother, Nel and his wife, Rose, arrived yesterday and have been helping to fill in the gaps.  Mama’s sister, Alma Jean Yoder, from Harrisonburg, Virginia, caught a ride to Delaware last evening, and her helping hands have already filled in some gaps for us.  It is pretty much the same there for our Sweet Mama.  Sometimes it feels like these days just run together with almost no variation except decline.

Early in this journey, one Sunday morning, while I sat by her bed in the hospital, she reached for my hand and spoke life giving words of love to me that I’ve needed for some time.  I always have known that my Mama loved me, but this last year has been hard for her and us all, and there were many times when it felt like the filters were gone and things were said that would set me back on my heels.  Sometimes when it was time to travel the miles to her house, I would ask the Father for the garment of praise and for wisdom to understand what it was that was best for my Mama, for I knew that she always could tell when something was bothering me and she hated it terribly when she thought I was sad.

“Mary Ann,” she would sometimes say with her eyes all pleading, “Have I been a good girl?”  Often this was after one of her more strident declarations, or actions that were out of character for her. How I hated that question that put me fully in the place of being the parent, while my heart still begged to be her child.  I didn’t want to be the one to tell her that she needed to stop driving.  I didn’t want to be the one to tell her that she needed a wheelchair or a walker.  I didn’t want to be the one to tell her that her days of self medicating were over.

“Everytime you come,” she said earlier this year, “you take something else away from me!!!” And she burst into tears.  Mama almost never cried, and it wrenched my heart as I struggled to know the difference between what was okay, what was negligence and what risks were acceptable.  I almost never laid down the law (we don’t do that with our Mama) but tried to negotiate what she was willing to live with and what she wasn’t.

And now she is suffering so much.  She moves so restlessly on the bed that has been her “home” in these last ten days, no longer asking to go home, not asking me to take her home with me.  She hasn’t spoken my name since Wednesday, and that is okay.  I don’t ask her because I don’t want her to have to think that hard.  I remember her words of love and I am comforted.  How I wish I could fix this for her.  I wish I could transform her into the healthy, young vibrant Mama of my youth, bring back the good, good times, the dancing eyes, the music, the love of beauty and the strong body.  These are the memories that we have of this brave, indomitable woman who is our mama.

But even if I couldn’t bring back the body the way it once was, today I’d give almost anything just to have her be the Mama.


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My Brother Writes . . . “Ready or Not”

From my brother, Mark, Jr.

Tonight I am staying with my Mom, and the night brings a mixture of emotions as I stand by this woman who has been such a good Mama to me and my siblings.  I’ve often said that our life and our family was far from perfect, and we deal with baggage we are not even aware of, I’m sure.  But we were and we are so blessed, and Mom deserves so much credit for the blessings we’ve had.  It feels sad to me tonight that I cannot do more for her in this hour that she would (and does) hate so much.  Death is coming way too slowly for Mom.  She never wanted this, to labor for each breath, to fight the pain, to spend the hours moaning lightly, and knowing that the end is inevitable, coming relentlessly to take her away, like it or not.  Like the children’s game of Hide and Seek, the count down is soon, and I can hear the words, “here I come, ready or not.”  I’ve tried to smile, to be cheerful, to speak words of hope, to tell her that she has been such a good Mama.  When she was still able, she asked me why I was grinning at her.  She told me I was speaking so loud, but she gave me sweet smiles and told me she loved me, too, when I reminded her how I felt toward her.  Mom and I shared those words often these past years when I was leaving her house, or going away, etc.  Her words came easier along those lines the past few years, and brought me comfort and blessing.  It is still good to be loved by your Mama, and to hear words of affirmation and pleasure from her lips.  I’m going to miss that…

So this night brings a bucketful of emotions.  I do feel excitement for her, delight to know that she will soon be free of this suffering, and that so much joy awaits her on the other side.  This is the hope we’ve built our lives on, and I’m grateful this hope brings us deep-down rest and comfort when there is nothing more we can do for our Mama.  With certainty and conviction, a knowing that surpasses the intellect and logic of the mind, and comes from deep within our spirit, we believe and we trust that His promises are true.  It’s our anchor for the soul,  The best is yet to come, and so much good awaits Mom, and she will be there soon, and we rejoice with her.

But there is sadness, too.  Life goes too quickly, and part of me wants to go back in time, to enjoy and appreciate again life the way it was.  I chose and try hard to live life without regrets and lots of “if only”, because I believe in amazing grace, and God’s ability to redeem messes and mistakes.  That is not the longing I feel tonight, to wish I could change things, and do better and be kinder, although there is that part, too, sometimes.  But there is a part that doesn’t want to let go of this person who has always been there, always been on my side, always wanted me and loved me, and made me feel I was doing good.  There is a part of me that doesn’t want to face my own frailty, to know that I’m now the next generation, that I’m running out of time, too.  Reading back over this just now, it is obvious that there are no words to really express the heart in a time like this.   Some things are just beyond words.

So thanks for your prayers and for your love and for your caring.  Thanks for being family.  It does feel good to have people who care in times like this.  We appreciate it.  And right now would be a good time to say a prayer for Mom.  Things are not easy for her.  Every move is labor.  She woke up just now and said “Hey!”  I reminded her of when she would tell us to save our hay, we might marry a mule someday…  She no longer can talk back and forth, and her words are hard to understand most of the time…

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