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My brother and I are fairly well convinced that Mom (91, late-stages dementia, in MC, drastic change in behavior since fall/hit head hard a few weeks ago) is hearing her call to go home. Her faith, when she's reminded of it, sustains her, but the reminders would have to be the only conversation we ever had. Which is not a bad thing, but I'm not sure I could repeat such a short thing 75 times in an hour.....
Sunday afternoon she said to me as she was lying down ("I'm really tired. I don't know why I'm so tired!" Eyes barely open!), "I don't want to go home. I have to go home but I don't want to." Looks up at me, "Do I have to go home?" I told her, you can go home any time you want. Reassuring face and smile, prayers in heart that I'm saying the right thing. Her face did not become un-anxious, so it wasn't quite right, but I did my best in a sticky situation.
Yesterday the AD of her place sent me a little video clip of her boot skootin' (well, walker wigglin') at a music /dance activity for the higher functioning crowd. She said to AD on the way in to lunch, "That was a fun morning!"
Today, bro was in town for the morning. He took her to a favorite park with a little "lake" with a simple fountain in it. (Fountain Lake, how's that for originality.) There are also geese, which he and she have watched the broods of, growing up. He said she LOVED it. It's not too hot out, they were in the shade, in the car, eating ice cream. They talked. He did the man-of-the-family thing of reassuring her that her finances are all in order, that he and family are alright. He is pretty sure that for her part, she was asking him if he was ok with her leaving. Sunday I'd made one in a series of little set speeches I have (not literally) about how well she and Dad raised us kids to take care of ourselves and each other, how I felt that what they'd done was so right and good that I'd modeled my being-a-mother on her, she and Dad had been such wonderful parents, etc. She thanks me deeply every time I say these things.
Sis has yet to do this farewell-ing thing. She lives 600 miles away, where Mom used to live, and the situation has only very recently become like this. Yesterday I told her of both the Sunday horrible day, and the dance video, and hospice RN's assessment based on physical symptoms which haven't show up yet. Sis decided not to make an emergency trip, and rather plan to come early-to-mid August. She may change her mind when bro gets an email out.
Whenever hospice comes, Mom goes all cheerful and hostess-y, and That's All They See! Arrgh. We tell them what we get (very anxious, and deeply emotional from the heart and soul. The concepts are clear in her soul, but the words won't come...). It's a seesaw from here on out I guess. MIL was certainly like that for the last couple of months. One daughter would see disaster on Monday and call everybody. DH and I would go there for supper Tuesday, and see ambiguous. (He's the only boy, and held the same place in his mother's heart that my bro does in Mom's) Wednesday another sister would come, and see someone who wanted to go outside on the patio and eat cake! Less than 2 months after that particular week, MIL passed away...
Are we following the pattern I think we are? Have other members seen this?
I don't really have answers for you, but I want to wish you the best on this journey. Your family seems lovely. And it's so wonderful that you are having these moments with your Mom. I think we know in our gut when the time is near. I remember when my Dad went into hospice (end stage cancer) and my mother told me she was going to take a few days off. I told her he wouldn't be here in a few days. Just knew it. On his last day I drove my mother home and had to go back to see him again. We had a lovely visit. He was in good spirits and talking and I unknowingly fed him his last meal. We got the call in the wee hours of the morning that he was on his way. The nurses told me he kept saying 'Maman' (that means 'Mom' in french - his native tongue). I wish he could have told me what was transpiring but he couldn't talk. He would get excited when I mentioned 'Maman'. Although we told him how lovely it will be to see his brothers and mother again and we let him know it was OK to go and he will be whole again, it took him many hours. It wasn't until I sang to him (he loved music) that he left. He had a great death and that's all we can hope for.
I hope for cherished moments as you walk this path with your mother. And I pray that you have the answers she needs as she peers into the unknown. I suggest you be very confident for her. If she says she doesn't want to go, tell her that she doesn't have to go. Just as it does for a child, those boundaries actually gives them the grounding to search a little farther down the path. It's a paradox.
Mostlyme, your post is beautiful, and inspires me, encourages me, and gives me hope that I can rise to this challenge. Your father's "great death" is one I can pray for for Mom. That you were beside him is beyond wondrous; that you knew what to say is beyond wise, that he was present for you in his last hours is beyond words. My father's parting gift to Mom as he died (at 71...) of cancer and emphysema was his inimitable grin. I cherish the memory of her telling me that. I didn't make it in time, it was 5 hours and a whole state away. It's hard to drive 75 mph when you're crying!
I am going to write down your last paragraph on my hand or something. Believe me, I am indeed acting confident-- I'm a VERY good actor. Too good, maybe. Spending too much time play-acting and not enough listening. It never even occurred to me to tell Mom she didn't have to go. I'll remember that concept. ....."searching a little farther down the path"....you have such a way with images, thank you!!!
As to singing....it makes me very sad that I've lost my voice, again. I can't count on anything correctly pitched (and she's a musician too so it matters) coming out when I try to put it out. I've recently bought a little 26-string Celtic harp, and will spend all my copious free time (ha) learning Amazing Grace *with accompaniment* (or at least chords!). She has loved to hear me just even tuning it.
Thank you for your prayer.
So nice that you can play her music! As for the pitch problem, maybe you could ask for her help - she would probably like that.
I hear you about being too good of an actress. I find I lose myself sometimes in the roles I play. It's such a balance isn't it? Between doing what we can to help and keeping ourselves intact at the same time... I wish you luck with that.
The Alzheimer's counselor here in town once told me that I am her client - not my mother. She said I know that your mother is safe and cared for. It's you that I'm concerned about. And it's not me personally, this is her mandate. I guess, for the most part, family members who seek her out are usually trying so hard to keep up with all of the changes and the pull to do everything right. It's so easy to lose ourselves or second guess ourselves or wear ourselves out...
By reading your post it's so evident that you are a loving family. I feel it! And I'm sure your mother does too. Take care of each other and try to be as present as possible. This really can be a very special time. I'm so glad I could give you some words of encouragement.
Mostlyme, thank you again! I have to laugh about the asking her to help me with pitch: I think she's too far gone for that and (cue laughter) she lost her own voice 10 or so years ago too! Ah well. We did have our moments of her helping me tune the harp correctly.
I visited today with Chocolate Decadence gelato from a local creamery. Carried it from shop to her in a Starbucks coffee travel mug! She ate a little scoop, clearly enjoying the extreme chocolateness of it. She was mostly "eyes half mast" for the visit, until it approached the time for me to go. I guess the chocolate kicked in. But I'll bet she was dozing again 3 minutes after I walked out.
Update on Sis-- she's coming in a week and a half. Maybe she senses that she should do this soon. I get to ask the awkward question of, do you want to be notified when the active dying stage comes to pass. Ugh.