All help All

The focus of my last few decades has been primarily towards caring for my elderly parents. My father (actually my step-father, but he was the father I never had growing up, so he got a promotion a long time ago to being referred to as my "father") passed away in 2008 leaving a huge crater in many people's lives. Around that time was when the aliens came and abducted my mother and she began what I called her Empty Pod Stage (EPS). 

The doctors said she had Alzheimer's. I disagreed. I was right. They were wrong, but it took many years to coax her back into the land of the living. She obviously had some kind of breakdown. So many things happened in rapid succession that I think it overloaded her brain. It all started with her having breast cancer. She never reacted like anyone else being told they had cancer. She reacted more like she was told she had a fart crosswise and all she had to do is take a double dose of Gas-X to get some relief. Her reaction was almost eerie. Then there was the Category 4...almost a 5 hurricane that hit us directly. She totally lost it and wanted to be taken to the hospital. I'm sorry, but ambulances don't run in 150 mph winds. In fact, nothing runs in that kind of wind storm. 

She also had her driving privileges taken away from her and that hit her hard. In fact, that hit her harder than having cancer. That made her mad, but having cancer didn't! I never understood that one. I was relieved when they took her license because my mother had to be one of the worst driver's on the road. For 25 years before they took her license, I wouldn't ride with her if she was behind the wheel. If we went anywhere, I drove. In all honesty, she really was an accident waiting to happen. It probably was a blessing she didn't learn to drive until she was 30 something years old. 

Then there was decline of my father's health (cardiac and kidneys) which led to his demise. I suppose a person can only take so much before their mind goes into survival mode. That's when the aliens came and rescued my mother leaving behind just an empty pod that looked like her. I took good care of that pod for almost 10 years and then one day, the aliens returned. My mother came home. She started painting again and reading again and doing all the things she used to love to do just like it was only yesterday. She really didn't have any memories of that time period that stood out in her mind when I questioned her about it. 

What was almost 10 years to me and the rest of the family was at most a few days for her. In all that time she never mentioned my father or his dying. In fact, she did little talking about anything unless I really prodded her into it. Trust me, I tried everything....doctors, therapists, drugs, taking trips "home" to Maine, etc, etc. and NOTHING worked. Time was what she needed, so time was what I gave her. She even fell and broke her hip during the EPS. Now, that was a tricky situation to get her through physical therapy and up walking again, but with determination on my side, she did it and returned home from having surgery and then a 6 week stay in rehab. I know I'm luckier than most people. My mother has been around a very long time. She turned 92 on her last birthday in February.  

On October 24th my mother fell and broke her other hip. 

While she was in the hospital, I kept most people updated about her progress via text or on Facebook. It was easier than to having to repeat the same things 50 times in a row. The only people I actually talked to during this time period other than my children and a few friends were my brothers.

My final update about my mother was written and posted on December 3rd:

This afternoon my mother passed away. While I have to admit that I am relieved that her pain and suffering is finally over, my heart is broken. The sorrow that consumed both my daughter and I as we looked down upon my mother was overwhelming and as I finally walked down that long hallway away from Covenant Care Hospice at West Florida Hospital it took every ounce of strength I had to put one foot in front of the other and leave my mother behind forever.

I can't begin to express the sorrow I feel and how my heart is broken in a million pieces after watching my mother develop pneumonia and A-fib, have a pulmonary embolism, get sepsis from an UTI and lose the ability to swallow and have to have a feeding tube surgical placed in her stomach for nutrition. Basically, she went from being a healthy 92 year old on October 24th to being placed in hospice on December 2nd to dying on December 3rd. 

I'm a grown woman, yet I feel like an orphaned child. I walk around my house and feel her presence everywhere, yet she's gone. I'm okay one minute and I'm crying like a baby the next. I don't even know if that's what I'm suppose to do. I keep asking myself, "What am I suppose to do with myself now?"  I never gave this day any thought. I never thought about me in the grand scheme of things. My focus was always on other people...always on my step-father and on my mother. Thinking about myself now feels so foreign. I'm overwhelmed. I'm sad and I just want to feel like I have a purpose. I just want to feel  something other than feeling this horrible sadness.

This photo was taken not long after my mother was first admitted to the hospital. It's nice to see that she was still capable of smiling here.

At this point I think I had accepted my mother's fate...

When she was moved to hospice, I covered her with the afghan her mother had made for her. I wanted her to feel close to her mother. For some reason, I felt that was important. She always kept this afghan folded at the end of her bed. Her mother, my grandmother passed away in 1974. 

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