Saturday, August 21, 2010

Chapter 7 - My Life: On Your Own

While my mother was in the institution, I met my first husband, married and gave birth to my daughter.  We lived in a third floor apartment in the city when I was notified that my mother was being released to a facility in the same city.  She was being transitioned back into society and would have a "room" of her own, be responsible for her three meals a day and her personal things.  She was being placed on state aid for both her finances and her medical care.

She did so well for such a long time...over 10 years actually.  It was during those years that I, not only got to know my mother for the first time in my life, but also had my son, got a divorce and had gotten a job with a bank, and had begun to go to counseling myself.  It was because of the help the counselor gave me and what I'd learned about myself that gave me the strength I relied on so much then and now. 

I'd go to pick her up on a Saturday when I wasn't working and take her shopping.  We'd have coffee and a danish.  Oh, how she loved that darn danish!  Sometimes, we'd go to a small place for lunch...nothing too fancy or over whelming.  You could tell that too much activity bothered seemed to make her nervous.  It was also during those years that she met my daughter and son, who, being children, were a little leary of her occasional odd behavior.  I would go downtown to pick her up, bring her over to our apartment and then bring her back later in the day.  And then there was Thanksgiving...she always ate too much!  She would be in the bathroom forever immediately following dinner simply because she was used to eating that much!  She had gained weight and actually looked good and healthy and happy.  Although she wasn't comfortable using public transportation of any sort, she got around on her own whenever she wanted to.  She'd go to the movies or the department stores that were located right downtown.  She'd sit on the bench in the park.  For her appointments (meds, social worker, doctor), I drove her.  She had adapted to her new life considering she hadn't had one for so long.

Things seemed to be going well.  Then, out of the blue, I got a phone call at work.  It was Henry, the administrator of where she was staying.  He and my mother had had an argument nearly ten days ago and he hadn't seen her since.  And I hadn't seen her in nearly two weeks myself.  I left work and headed downtown.

Henry had to unlock her door because although we were knocking, she wouldn't open it.  When we went inside, it was the most horrific thing I had ever seen. She had apparently stopped eating all together.  She was so excruciatingly thin.  She was ice cold to the touch and all curled up in the fetal position on her bed.  Her hands and feet were bluish.  When I saw her, I had asked Henry to call 911 and her Social Worker as well.  I remember her gazing up at me with a glassy look and I tried to give her a sip of water.  Her lips were all cracked and dry.  She hadn't eaten for who knows how long, only surviving on what she called "sugar pills"...they were those little tiny tablets that you put in your coffee or tea.

We rushed her to the hospital and they treated her with all kinds of intravenous.  I do not remember how long she was in the hospital, but when she was released, it had to be to a nursing home, so she would have the constant medical and professional supervision they felt she needed.  She lived in nursing homes for a long, long time and I stopped visiting weekly because I found it too difficult.  You see, even though she was on medication, she no longer knew who I was.  I don't know and never will, I guess, what or why she couldn't cope with reality anymore.  However, with the help of the counseling I had received earlier, I had learned and accepted that she had an illness, a disease...and that it was not my fault.  

Oh, I continued to drop off her favorite butterscotch candy and tissues to the home she was in just so she would have those little things now and then.  That continued right until she fell and broke her hip in 2001.  Then I visited, or attempted to anyway, her in the hospital.  I don't know if she was carrying on because of the meds (or lack of) or whether her illness had totally consumed her, but it was not a good visit.  She had to be restrained in the bed and was ranting and raving so much, in fact, that the nurses had to move her bed outside the nurses station because other patients were trying to sleep.  She was treated, released and went back to the nursing home.

  After she broke her hip, she had a hard time rebounding.  She was physically ill for a very long time.  After that, she got pneumonia after a bout with the flu.  My mother died when she was 89.  It was the year I moved to Virginia.  It was our last good-bye.  I love you, Mom.  I wish I could have made it all go away for you.


LambAround said...

This is a very touching post. My boss just lost her 89 year old father and my husband is away attending a double funeral (mother and son). Let's hope there is only happiness from here on out!

In response to your comment on my blog, I think you may have misunderstood. I don't make any money from comments. I just enjoy reading them :)

varunner said...

Sounds like you did a wonderful job, and even if she wasn't all aware, I'm sure she appreciated the candies :-)

Tiggeriffic said...

That is quite a story about your Mom.. You did a good job taking care of her and in the end it was so sad... Candy seems to be just the ticket for old people ~!.. makes their days better.


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