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TOPIC: Endings and beginnings.

Endings and beginnings. 9 months 2 weeks ago #3783283

  • Mx Weatherwax
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My mother was the first of my close family and friends who I brought into my home to care for during their terminal illness. I had pretty much her sole care, family don't live close so rarely visited us, I guess they were just grateful that she did not have to go into a care home which they had between them decided without input from my mother who cried when they told her.

I had worked in one of these hell holes where the elderly are too often parked while family start dividing their belongings up prematurely, I was not willing for our mother to endure this so she came home with me. I need to point out that my siblings were not doing this, they were genuinely concerned about Mother, but unable to help for various life reasons, and they were grateful that I was willing to spare Mother this trauma.

Anyway, when it was obvious to me that she was not only dying, but also very close to it, I called them and they all arrived at my house. Mother was holding on, even in her coma, and struggling to let go. I know that the person departing often prefers to wait until whoever matters leaves the room, presumably so we won't have to witness it, so I left her in the care of her other children and went shopping. When I got home she had slipped away.

I left again to let them see to the formalities, and later on I wrote this piece, about the immediate aftermath.

Endings and Beginnings.

I've looked after other people all my life, so when Mother became too frail to cope alone I brought her to live with me. Tonight she died, and for the first time in decades nobody needs anything from me.
My siblings have all turned up, and feeling redundant I have left them with Mother and taken my dogs to the beach. I enjoy driving, especially at night, and the numbness, the calm I feel, is a welcome respite.
Somebody has put a gift wrapped in newspaper on the passenger seat of my car. It makes me uneasy, a piece of sentimental tatt probably for which I will later, insincerely, thank the donor.. I ignore it and concentrate on the road.
At the dark, empty beach, I pick up the gift and walk with the dogs at the edge of the retreating tide. I throw stones in the water, consider throwing the gift pretending I haven't seen it, but in the end I retreat to the dunes and sit with it in my hands.
Eventually I unwrap first one layer of paper and then another until I am left with a bulky envelope. Finally I open it and remove the contents.
Now my eyes unexpectedly water, as in the moonlight, waves hissing on the shoreline, I look at Mother's personal notebook, her silver pen and a pebble upon which is painted one word; LOVE

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Endings and beginnings. 9 months 2 weeks ago #3783320

  • danch
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Your story really hits close to home for me. For over a year, I was the sole caregiver for my girlfriend who died in October of cancer. We were together for 18 years. She too kept a journal and it means more to me than any other physical thing she left behind. I know there are thousands upon thousands of people who also live our experience and I feel a bond with anyone who is or has been a caregiver. We can read about what it is like to provide long term care to someone but we only really understand it when we live it. Vignettes such as your description of your mom crying when learning some people would send her away are seared into our memories and hearts, and we can never escape them. Thank you for your story.
The following user(s) said Well Said: cahoots, Dan Dare, Rips, Zadra, Mx Weatherwax

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Endings and beginnings. 9 months 2 weeks ago #3783326

  • Mx Weatherwax
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Thanks for reading it Danch. I hesitated about whether or not I should put it here as it is at the same time deeply personal and an experience replicated over and over by so many of us poor humans.

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Endings and beginnings. 9 months 2 weeks ago #3783389

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You are a compassionate soul, Mr. Weatherwax and I thank you for that and for posting your story. If only more people would wake up and see the value of having a loved one in their home rather than in an institution. I often wonder what people in care homes really feel like – neglected, worthless? Again, thank you for your compassionate nature.
The following user(s) said Well Said: cahoots, Dan Dare, Rips, Mx Weatherwax

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amor vincit omnia

Endings and beginnings. 9 months 2 weeks ago #3783606

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I am so sorry for both of your losses Mx Weatherwax and Danch :xxx: :xxx:

Thank you for sharing such difficult experiences ... I am so mindful of how the deaths of those close to us in this age are often far different from what would have happened years ago when it was really the norm for people who who suffered long term illnesses to die at home with family

I hope that you both can take comfort from knowing that your loved ones would have felt blessed to have been cared for so well.
The following user(s) said Well Said: Dan Dare

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There is a crack ... a crack in everything .... That's how the light gets in.

Leonard Cohen ~ Anthem
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Endings and beginnings. 9 months 2 weeks ago #3784680

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Mx Weatherwax,
Thank you for sharing your story. It was very moving.

My old Dad developed bad dementia in his final years and was looked after mainly by my step mother. I did my bit too visiting twice weekly and only a mile away. I helped with diy maintenance issues and the like. He was unable to walk or even talk at the end, but would always smile when I visited.

For 6 weeks a year my stepmother could put my old Dad into respite care and we had some other free homecare services too. My stepmother was an angel but almost burnt out caring for Dad.
Dad went to many different Care homes for respite care. I got to see them all up close and saw that most were very sad places to see.
Despite a Senior Doctor at our Vetran's hospital pushing for us to put Dad into an Aged Care home, we stood firm refusing such a solution.
One day I visited Dad in the so called Rehabilitation ward to see him curled up in a fetal position and not even recognising me. He was giving up, with minimal care, not even physio. I later brought in the foot pedal machine I got him a few years before. I was smartly told that was not allowed so I lifted Dad into his wheelchair and took him out into the Shaded entrance. I then got his leg exercise machine out of my car and got Dad going on it. He smiled and started talking again. Often visiting people would ask what I was doing; I happily explained.
Later, I called the senior Doctor and won't repeat the harsh words I said to him. We then took Dad home where he recovered a lot in mind and body. He nearly lasted another decade and always had a 'do not resuscitate order'. That's another story of ineptitude, and Dad died in great pain. He was however used to pain all his life after a bad spine and hip injury commanding an RN submarine in the North Atlantic. My Mum was his nurse.

Given my Father's neglect in many Aged Care homes I never want to be put into such a nightmare.
Underfunded, understaffed, hard work, .... I don't blame the workers, just the system with a hidden agenda of cheap callous denial.
We've even just had a Royal Commission into it here in Austraila, even recommending better meals than the current cheap slop offered. I won't hold my breath with an immanent Federal election in 6 weeks.

I am getting old myself now and will totally refuse Aged Care, Senile or not. It's disgraceful how our aged seniors are treated.

So, that's my story Mx Weatherwax with yours prompting my own reflections.
Well done for the loving care you gave to your dear Mother. You did yourself proud and have my admiration. Bless you.
The following user(s) said Well Said: Zadra, danch

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Last edit: by Dan Dare.
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