Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Spunky to the End
My mother, Beulah, has been known all her life for her sharp wit and spunkiness. These have both served her well since she has, for over fifty years now, also suffered with the painful, debilitating disease known as rheumatoid arthritis. Over all these years dad, has been at her side, her constant faithful caregiver and companion. (We all think of him as Saint John.)
Now mom is in her last days. She is at home and dad is still giving her amazing care. I had planned to save this post to do as a sort of tribute after she goes home to heaven, but due to the events of the past forty-eight hours, I want to post it now.
Sunday morning dad called and mom had not awakened. This is how we expect the end to come, so we thought we were at the beginning of the end. As I stood in the shower trying to decide how to reorder my day, the phone rang again and mom had awakened and was wanting to get up for breakfast.
I headed to church and my responsibilities there while hubby went to sit with my parents. At some point in the morning, having not heard from any of them, I phoned Greg and he told me that she was up and asking for a T-bone steak!!!!! Now, this is a woman who has dwindled down to less than 70 pounds and has only been taking tiny bites of food for weeks on end. She wanted a T-bone steak, so my brother-in-law ran out and got one and they prepared it for her. She mulled one bite of it around in her mouth.
When I arrived after church, she was sleeping a lot and unaware of most of what was going on around her, but she was obviously not headed to heaven that day.
Monday morning at 10:15 my phone rang again. This time dad said she was still in bed, hadn't had anything to drink nor had she been to the bathroom since 9 PM on Sunday. I got over to their house by 12:30 and my sister, who lives an hour away, arrived by about 3:30.
All day we waited with dad. We talked, made plans, and took turns checking on mom. Dad "turned the corner" in his mind and began putting away the cushions he has so faithfully used to keep her comfortable when she is up. All day she lay, mostly unmoving, on her back, her paper-thin skin drawn over her skeleton, her breathing erratic: shallow fluttering breaths followed by a gasp followed by long moments of no breathing at all.
Her pastors came, prayed over her, blessed her, said good-bye.
My sister had planned to stay the night, so after 7 PM I headed home, fully expecting to hear this morning that the battle was over.
At 8:15 this morning I talked with my sister, Pam, on the phone. She said,
"You're not going to believe this."
Incredulous I said, "Mom didn't die."
She said, "Not only didn't she die, but listen to this, you aren't going to believe it. At some point in the night, between 1 and 2 AM she asked for a drink. Dad fixed her some orange juice. She drank it and revived enough to begin a conversation with him. I heard her laughing. At some point she looked at dad and said, 'I'm pretty alive for a dead woman, aren't I?'"
At some later time she pointed out to dad that he could get in trouble for pronouncing her dead without a doctor - - - so evidently she was much more aware yesterday than any of us knew.
This morning she got up, ate some breakfast, and at last word was back sitting in her recliner waiting for the hospice nurse to come.
Do not ask me HOW she has done this. I am beyond being able to explain the resilience of my mother. Like the title of this post, she is spunky to the end!!!