“My mom’s name is Jane. She is 81 years old, and she is failing.”
I wrote that five months ago. July, 2016. It is January 2017, and I should have known better. My mom is a survivor. My son said, “Stop calling us home to say goodbye, and then the people don’t die.”
When I told her in July that the hospice company was coming to talk with her, her immediate comment was, “But I don’t have anything to serve.” She doesn’t have anything to serve? That is so Mom, so Belle Meade, so Junior League. She was brought up to be a lady, and a lady she remains. I bought coffee and petit fours, and once again, with nurses and social workers and home health coordinators, she was the hostess descended from Nashville’s “royalty.” She made her mother proud.
Hospice came in and set up procedures that complimented the home health we already had in place. There were people checking on her every two hours, including all night. She had someone helping her bathe and dress, bringing her meals and managing her medications. Her caretakers were amazing, and we loved them all like family.
On November 5 all of our hopes for keeping her in her home until the end collapsed in a heap on her kitchen floor. The head of her femur snapped off, and we spent the weekend in Piedmont Hospital, ending on Sunday with a hip replacement. They moved her into a rehab center/nursing home, where she remains. She will not be going home again.
So what does Jane say when we tell her we are giving up the apartment where she has lived for fifteen years and donating most of her possessions to the thrift shop? “Well darling, it is what it is. I am so lucky to have you to take care of things for me.” What? She is spending the rest of her life in a nursing home, and she is lucky to have me? What about the tears? What about the denial? What about the insistence that she is getting stronger, and she’ll be walking again if we just give her more time? What about “How can you do this to me?” Nope, none of that. Just “I am lucky to have you.”
So even now, when I am fifty-seven years old with grown children and planning for my own retirement, she is teaching me how to live. I ask you, who really is the lucky one?