Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Living and Dying

I'm the little, grumpy-looking one with Mom and
my brothers. Perhaps I missed my nap that day.
I had never seen anyone die before, and I was worried and wondering if I could emotionally handle watching this happen.

At the beginning of January of this year, we knew my mom's life was drawing to a close at the care center where she had been living for the last 14 months of her life. She was in the final stages of Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease, both terminal illnesses which we fought and struggled with for a long time to keep at bay, but to no avail. My dad, who was living with us at our home nearby, went over the care center in the morning and stayed there the whole day throughout the entire time Mom was there. My wife and I went there almost every day, and other family made regular visits when they could.

In the last couple of months of her life, she spoke less and less, and her appetite dropped off as well. We took turns feeding her because she could no longer do that as well. My wife was exceptional in helping care for Mom for such a long time. I can't emphasize that enough. Mom's brother, Uncle Jay, visited a little over a month before, and two of Mom's sisters came the day before Mom passed.

In the last week of her life, our family camped out at the care center, taking shifts so someone would be with here at all times. Two people would usually sit her room and watch her breathing, blood pressure, and oxygen levels, while other family members slept in another room until it was there turn. Personally, we did all of this because we didn't want Mom to be alone when she died, and I didn't want my dad to be alone either, but I was a little concerned on how her passing would unfold.

Would it be peaceful, or be very labored and hard to watch? I didn't want my dad to watch her suffer in agony; the whole process was hard enough. In the final hour of her life, we could her breathing becoming shallower and her other vital signs slowed down and became more erratic. Yet, in the the final minutes, my brother, niece, dad, and I were able to watch her pass on very peacefully, and it was fitting that she was surrounded by people who cared for her. My wife, son, and other brother had spent hours and nights watching Mom over the last week, and I was grateful for everyone who showered mom with care, including the staff at the care center.

While being a parent has been so important to me, being a son and loving on Mom my in small ways, in life and death, has filled me with gratitude and compassion for others. No one will escape from this life alive, and we should do all we can to help one another, in meaningful ways, live the best life they can. We often have no idea when our time will come, so the best course is to live each day as if it were our last because someday, we will be right.

No comments:

Post a Comment