Jane

“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.”

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Mom and her grandsons

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.

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Belle Meade bride

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.

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With her younger daughter, my sister Pat

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?

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Jane VanArsdell Bainbridge with a very lucky daughter

8 thoughts on “Jane

  1. Blessings to you, my friend. I know the difficult road you’re walking. Cherish the time you have. It all sounds like trite platitudes, but it is all so very true.

  2. Reblogged this on Beth Warstadt and commented:

    My mom, Jane, died on Wednesday, March 25, 2020 in the middle of one of the worst crises this country has ever known. Burial must wait. Memorial services must wait. She survived two years after this post. She settled into the nursing home and proceeded to worry about everyone else, forcing staff members to say, “We’ve got it under control, Ms. Bainbridge. Don’t worry.” She fell out of her wheelchair more than once trying to organize the clothes in her closet and come up with matching outfits. A lady to the end. She never stopped teaching me how to live, how to be a survivor. I am re-posting this blog because it says what I want to say without my needing to repeat it. Rest in peace, Mom. Your life of service was well-lived.

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