Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Dignity

Many years ago, in my youth, I believed that when my time came to die, I would do it with dignity and grace.

In my death scenario, I thought I would lie quietly in my bed, giving my last thoughts to my family and friends. When it was time, I thought, in my idealistic youth, I would just drift off on the river current that would take me to the next step of my journey.

It seems I might have been wrong.

I am watching my mother's body husk breaking down. She has had so many heart attacks I have lost count; her lungs are filling with water. There are tubes suddenly sprouting out of her body, a new one each time I visit. Her organs are giving out.

What to me seems like terribly invasive procedures...is to the medical staff life-giving procedures. I understand their point of view...they have promised to save lives; not hasten death. But, to me, a daughter watching her mother...it seems inhumane.

So I let my mother speak. I hear her complaints; I would feel the same. I use much Reiki with my mother, as does Graham...Mom says Graham chases the anger and worry out the door. She has told me this many times, although she looks perplexed when she wonders about it. A long time ago, my mother agreed to receiving Reiki energy from us...she doesn't remember this now. And she says, at this point in her life, she's not about to learn.

She only knows it works.

I let Mom speak about her impending death. She tells me to be safe...that she doesn't want to have to worry about me after her death...she says she hopes it is time for peace then. We laugh, each of us understanding that a mother's worry about her children transcends time and space and probably, eternity.

We work on letting go of her dream (so like mine!) of falling asleep quietly, for the final time, in her own home, her family surrounding her. I tell her I was so proud of her immense courage over the last year, when she gathered herself together enough to find the independence she had never had in her lifetime. I tell her she did well; now it is time to let herself be taken care of. It is time to not worry about what to have for dinner that the caregivers would know how to prepare, to not worry about her money and where it was going...to not worry about how she was going to be able to answer the door, or go to the bathroom...when nobody was there.

She needs hospital care now...attacks against her body are appearing with regularity. Sadly, she agrees. But hope is required...I tell her of the walks we'll take in the beautiful gardens surrounding some of the care homes. I tell her of watching Koi in the gardens where my father in law spent his last days. I tell her of the peace we found there, of the long philosophical chats we had.

We may not have time, Mom and I, to have those lovely walks amongst fields of flowers, so we have them now...with beeping machinery, dinging bells, constant interruptions...surrounding us. We have had a year of constant conversations; I understand her as well as I am ever going to. I understand the face she shows me; Mom loves flowers and gardens and scenic views. So I take her there, to the garden where I grew up...to the old family home.

Frown lines disappear slightly, she is more at ease as she discusses the plants that I remember, the problems she had with them and how the flowers always made up for the care. She laughs and says, Like kids!

When it is time for me to go, she tells me to go quickly. My mother has given a No Resuscitation Order...each time I leave, it may be the last time I see her alive.

She points a shaky finger at me and attempts to use the gruff voice all her daughters recognize so well...Don't ever, ever forget I love you, she says...

And I point my finger right back at her...and say...Don't you ever forget I love you!

We stare at each other.

Standoff.

And I turn and leave...before Mom's tears overflow, leaving her with whatever dignity she can still muster...

8 comments:

  1. Marion, my heart goes out to you and your family. I am thinking of you and praying for you all. :-)

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  2. Your wish for a peaceful end is one we all share, Marion, and I know you wanted it for your mother, as did she.

    Not too many in life get that easy an exit, I fear. We struggle coming in to this world, and we often struggle to leave it. You're in my thoughts and prayers constantly now, dear friend. Having been there with my MIL, for whom we finally had all tubes and such pulled and let life pass, I can know something of your pain.

    As I've said before in a post of my own, there's something very life changing about being there when a loved one breathes their last breath on this earth. I hope, for your sake, the hospital allows you to experience that spiritual gift.

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  3. This is a most beautiful post - a wonderful tribute to the mother-daughter relationship. Letting one's mother go is such a huge undertaking. You are well on your way to finding the peace that passes all understanding. I hope, for you and your mother, that when the time comes, her passing is, for her, a journey of love.

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  4. I sit here and read words that make me realize how much love is in your spirit. You want to give comfort and get it at the same time. I know, I have been those shoes. Just by looking at each other and by holding on to your thoughts you have gone into the world of the spirit and it is here that we settle all things. It is here that we KNOW love and we experience what others in our lives mean. It is here that our journey starts and it ends only to continue in a new journey. I wish you comfort from the uncertainity. Let your Hope and Your faith guide you in your love.

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  5. Thank you for all the good wishes...I sincerely hope I am able to be with my mother when she passes; it is an extremely spiritual experience.

    Much of this reminds me of my daughter's death, where we had to make the decision to let her go. It brings back many of the same emotions. It shows me there is still some work to do, on my part, to wholly accept Katrina's death.

    A lot of healing going on here!

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  6. What a special post, best wishes from New Zealand's South, The Artist

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  7. Still praying for you all.

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  8. Its a hard time for you, your mother sounds a remarkable and strong person. Thinking of you.

    Thank you for posting on my blog, your are the first one to access it since I moved to Beta.

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