On November 10th, my mom suffered a very long seizure in relationship to her brain cancer. It started at about 4 pm and lasted until about 6pm. She was given valium to try to help relax her. Our hired helper, Follie, had instructions from Hospice. My sister showed up shortly after the seizure started, she was there with her father-in-law for the evening. He's from VA and wanted to visit with mom.
Mom wouldn't look at Bean and she wouldn't talk, or couldn't. Hard to tell. I was on the phone with Bean a lot of the time offering my opinions about things. Mom had told both of us that she wanted to stay at home, not go back to the hospital. We were hoping the valium would work that was in the "care kit" from hospice. If we ran out and she wasn't responding we'd have to send mom to the Hospice House for as bit so they could help manage this situation.
fortunately the at-home meds worked. Bean went home for the night and I made plans to come the next day.
I arrived Saturday, Nov. 11, late morning. Mom was still having lots of small seizures on her right side. I didn't realize what they were at first. It took a visit from the hospice nurse to enlighten me. She called them baby seizures. Mom had not eaten or drank anything since Friday morning. She couldn't swallow her pills. We needed to start giving her her anti-seizure meds via rectum. Not fun, glad we hired Follie so we could let her "do the dirty work".
Mom was fairly unresponsive on Sat. & Sun. I didn't even think she knew I was there. It was so hard to tell. I held her hand a lot, stroked her cheek and told her I loved her again and again. My Aunt Pam arrived from Virginia on Sunday early afternoon. Bean was able to come back on Sunday evening. Mom seemed to "wake up" once Eileen arrived. She started to try to talk a little. We all got very excited. We called all mom's brothers and put the phone to her ear so they could talk to her. Then we called our brother and had him talk to mom too. I had called him several hours earlier and asked him if he was sure he didn't want to be with us. He assured me he couldn't go through this again. He said he was fine staying away. When we called him to have him talk to mom I confessed to my Aunt and sister that I had all ready called Larry and asked if he didn't want to come. I also told them his answer. My Aunt got on the phone, told Larry she didn't think mom would make it through the night and he needed to get there. He arrived at 1am.
Shortly after he arrived the power went out at the house. It was out for two hours. That wasn't so bad except that mom was on a microfiber air mattress bed. It deflated quickly. We checked on her every 15 minutes. She slept through it all. Just before the power came back on we tried to go back to sleep. I was sleeping in the recliner by mom, AP was on the floor on cushions and Grams was on the couch. Larry was on a couch in another room and Bean was in the back bed, as was Follie - in her own room and bed. AP and I head someone talking just before the power came back on . I told her I thought it was Grams talking in her sleep and she was saying "I love you". The next day AP told me that's not what she heard. She heard, "I am the holy spirit."
Mom did make it through the night. She also made it through another 10 days. She went 12 days total without food or water. It was very hard to watch her waste away. My brother did not stay past Tuesday of that week. He could not handle it. My Aunt and I were there for the whole time. We needed to be there for Grandma. Bean was back and forth, she did have to work a bit.
During the next 10 days many unexplained things did happen. Mom told us on that first Sun, Nov. 12, that she saw my dad and Art but not Grandpa, her dad. She told us it wasn't time for her to go yet. We thought she left us on two or three occasions. She told us, Bean, Larry and me that we scared her all being together. Previously she had said that she knew Larry would only come visit her if she was dying. Bean and I blamed her fear on him! He deserved the blame, he couldn't mentally come and be with her like we could. We understood, but it still made us mad and sad. Bean and I were fine with Larry leaving. During the next days we tried rotating who was at home. We'd announce who was going out, who was staying, when "the coast was clear". We all knew mom was dying and felt she was waiting for something. Did certain people need to be there or away? We kept telling her we loved her and it was all right if she needed to go. We wanted her to be at peace. We told her she was a great mom, friend, daughter, etc. We told her we'd miss her, but we'd always have her in our hearts. We tried toasting mom, we told fun stories from her past and talked about what she had accomplished in her life. We did make funeral plans. We planned the church service, picked out flowers, worked on her obit and picked out her outfit. Morbid? Probably. Necessary? Absolutely. The "we" who toasted and laughed with mom were Bean, AP(mom's sister), Aunt Tammy(mom's sister-in-law) Grams, Follie, Carol (Dad's cousin), Colleen (Carol's daughter) and Angie (long time neighbor and friend). There was a lot of female bonding that happened. We laughed and cried together. We drank wine, mud slides and ate ice cream together. We all hugged on mom A LOT! In fact one of the hospice nurses told us that maybe we were being too encouraging to mom. She politely told us we stimulating mom too much. After day 10 we 'low-keyed' things more. The lights were turned lower and we were much more quiet. We tried not to touch mom when she was sleeping. Letting go is very hard for the living and the dying.
More paranormal things happened...
One night the TV turned on and off by itself. It was the night we were toasting mom. Grams turned to me and asked why I turned on the TV. I pointed out that the remote was about four feet away from me, and everyone else for that matter, and that I didn't turn on the TV. I did pick up the remote and turn towards the TV only to have it go off BY ITSELF! We all looked at each other and said, "Art is here!" It was creepy, but good at the same time. When I was sleeping I felt someone pull on my upper arm three times. It was like they were trying to get me up. No one was around me. All in the house were asleep. AP and I heard three voices whispering by mom one night...Not just one single voice. We were sleeping just 10 feet away! I could feel the hairs o my arms raising up a lot. It was actually a very comforting feeling. At my mom's house, which is just two miles from Grams, the TV in Art's former bedroom kept going on and off my itself when Bean and I would be over there. We'd just start talking out loud to Art. We'd keep telling him that he needed to come and get mom. We were going to be okay.
On Sunday morning, November 19th, mom woke up at about 10:30 and she seemed very alert and clear. She was counting, "50, 51, 52, 52, 52, 53, 54, 55, 55, 55, 56, 57. 57." I asked her 57 what? She looked at me and said, "57 people." She had only been barely answering our questions lately. She hadn't started any conversations in weeks. Just eight weeks ago or so I was at physical therapy with her and she couldn't count to 5. I asked her where the 57 people were and she said, "Here. 57 people are here." I asked her if they were people or angels? She looked puzzled and didn't answer me. I asked her if I would know them. She told me, "I don't think so." I asked her if my dad, her first husband was here? She looked around and smiled and said, "yes, he's here." I did get excited and said, "mom, I know dad!" I asked if Art was there and my Grandpa, her second husband and dad. Again she looked around and said yes. I told her that grandma would be pleased that Grandpa finally showed up. Truthfully, I was thinking he'd been down in hell, he was that sort of guy! I also asked mom if she was waiting for Grandma to go to heaven (emotionally this has all been really hard on Grams). Mom looked at me and said, "No, It's not her time." I asked her if it was her time and she said, "Almost". My cousin's wife was there and she said, "Aunt Penny, will you tell my mom and brother I said hi?" And my mom looked at her and said, "I will tell them at dinner."
On September 27th, my sister and her husband celebrated their third wedding anniversary apart. Bean was with mom when she got the sad news that her cancer was back.
On November 22nd, I was with my mom celebrating my own wedding anniversary. Twenty years. The night before I called my husband and I told him I really needed him and the kids to come north. After school on Wednesday he loaded up our 12 and 14 year old and they were on their way to see me. I had been away from them for two and a half weeks. I thought I was only going to be gone for one night.
My mom passed away with my sister and I holding her hand and telling her we loved her. We reassured her it was okay to go. We would never forget her. We kissed her cheeks and cried. Follie was with us too. Nearby were Grams, mom's sister Pam, brother Mike, his wife, Theresa, Bean's husband was there putting their son down for the night. My husband and children arrived just five minutes later. Perfect timing? I think so. On Tuesday, November 7th I had brought my kids north to spend the day with my mom. She had only been staying awake for 15 minutes at a time. When she knew my kids were there she stayed awake for over three hours. We had a great day and visit. On the way home my daughter thanked me for driving them up. I am glad my kids got a chance to see mom's bright eyes on that Tuesday. They could feel her love for them in her look.
It's been two an a half weeks since mom has been gone. I seem okay during the days. At night when I try to go to sleep I cry. I do miss her. I just can't believe that she and Art are both gone. He was only 58, and she 64.
Life is interesting how quickly it can change. I missed my dad a lot too. He's been gone for 21 years now. I feel that I did get to 'feel' his presence in the past month. I also know he and mom will see me again in heaven someday, a long time from now! I know mom is at peace and enjoying herself with dad and Art. Who could ask for anything more?