Sunday, October 4, 2009

Another Autumn To Hate

It has not happened yet, but my feeling is that my mother may die within a few days. I am currently abroad and am trying to get home as quick as possible. My sister thinks that I may need to hurry if I want to see her while she still lives. No definite data, but it does not look good. So, tomorrow I will travel all day to get to my home, then travel the next day to her home. My sister and older brother are there to take care of things. My sister is like me, capable, decisive, and a bit of a control freak.

Mom is 87 years old, suffering badly from Alzheimer’s, and fell and broke her hip last month. The entire joint had to be replaced and she seemed to come through the surgery well. After a few days she was transferred to a nursing home for rehabilitation. We doubted she would ever return to her own home again, but only thought that meant she would have to stay in the nursing home.

However, she has proven unwilling to eat or drink much and continually pulls out any IV. She is now malnourished and dehydrated and has pneumonia. The pneumonia may be the result of aspiration when people tried to help her eat. No ones fault, everyone has been careful. She is back in the hospital, doped out and with an IV running full bore. Sister and brother decided to allow a feeding tube to be inserted. This is kinda dicey as she has a living will which forbids extensive measures to prolong life. Their feeling is that feeding may allow her to survive, or a least give her a chance. I told my siblings that they are on the scene and I will back any decision they make. I know they will show mercy and not needlessly prolong her existence once she is no longer able to survive. I believe everyone has done everything they can to help. I do not think it is going to matter this time.

She was the baby of 13 children and is the sole survivor. She buried her husband, our father, over a decade ago and one of her sons, my middle brother, last year. At that funeral, she already did not really know who I was, but seemed quite happy to talk to me about my family and my children. She was happy with life, mostly. She lived in her own home, my older brother lived with her, and sister was in the same town and over to see her most days. She was not really in contact, but got along well enough, had lots of care and visits from extended family.

In the last few months, she has not been as happy. She had frequent pain in joints and bones, was unable to get around with any ease, and was less and less connected to the present and resented it. She has been difficult to be with, live with, work with. She was always stubborn, runs in the family apparently, and this aspect of her personality seemed to be taking control. My sister has persevered, but it weighs on her and, being a control freak like me, had trouble dealing with her own anger, guilt and concern.

I would like to see her before she dies, if that is in the offing. I want to see here for me, not her. I doubt she will know who I am. There is, of course, the possibility that she will pull through. She has always been a tough woman. Still, if I do not go home this time, and if she dies, I will regret it.

She was not always the perfect parent, who is? Certainly not me. I have been a less than perfect son, like so many of us. My sister was pretty close to perfect and well loved by both my parents. My brothers and I got what was left over. At least, that is how it appeared to me. However, sis did not demand such affection, and always took care of me when I was little. She is a good person. Tough like me, if much more touchy feely and willing to cry. Much more in touch with who she is.

I know I am beginning to hate Autumn. It used to be my favourite season, especially in the South. Finally cool enough to enjoy the evenings and days still warm enough for shorts and sandals. If my mother dies, it will make three Autumns in a row with the death of a loved one. My then spouse in 2007, my middle brother in 2008, and now my mother this year. Death is becoming a habit, and I am tired of it.

I doubt this makes much sense, I am mainly just marking time until I get on the plane tomorrow. Laundry and dishes done, bags are packed. Just waiting.