love

My Mother passed on March 12th, less than one month ago . . .

Most of us have no idea what we may or may not do when this chapter of our lives unfolds. Daddy passed 19 years ago. My mother and my brother, who passed 13 years ago, bought a home together. I moved her a total of 4 times in the last 19 years. I cared for Mother for 14 years of those 19 years. She was wheelchair bound for 13 years with spinal stenosis after refusing therapy and surgery. Her very low tolerance to pain was the cause. Two years in her own home with morning CNA care once my older brother passed. I was then working full time so my evenings were spent assuring her care until bedtime. I then moved her to a very lovely senior apartment for 6 years with double shifts morning and evening with CNA care. Her health began failing and early signs of dementia set in. There was later an EPISODE, which is usually the event which starts rehab and the need for long term care. Once it was determined that she required 24/7 care, she was admitted to a long term care facility 5 minutes from my home.

She asked if she could live with me and I could only say she couldn’t because I was working full time. My home is a 3 bedroom town home with all bedroom upstairs and could not accommodate her wheel chair. Once admitted, I was there 5 out of 7 days, often 7 days a week to assure her care. There episodes, the need for constant intervention, Advocacy and assistance in her care. I sat with her through her meals, laundered her clothes, assured her hair care, nails and hygienic needs were met and attended activities with her.

As her health changed, there were many hospital visits where I sat in emergency rooms, hospital rooms for days and hours and accompanied her to many specialty doctors offices. I encouraged her to eat and to live once a major stroke affected her greatly in September 2014. It left her paralyzed on one side and totally bedridden. The staff and I spoon fed her until in December 2014; she stopped eating. I then consulted with her Dr. regarding IV fluids to sustain her hydration. I requested shift to shift vital monitoring to determine how her body was reacting to what the dementia and stroke had introduced. Lack of mobility, no matter how often repositioned, caused bed sores, then pneumonia, which 3 1/2 weeks ago took her home.

I was not there when she passed, although I knew she was transitioning. I went home to rest with the intention to return early morning. I began to dress at 5:00 a.m. I felt a pain in my stomach and be came nauseated at 5:15. As I was preparing to leave my home, a call came at 5:38 and my heart sank. Mother passed at 5:30, quietly in her sleep. I felt overwhelmed with grief.

I still struggle to this day because I was not there. My pastor, family, friends and my own conscience reminds me that I WAS there, in her heart as I always was. God nor she, wanted me to see her transition.

Was it hard? Extremely! Am I exhausted. Yes! Would I do it again. Most assuredly, with lessons learned.

I have asked my children not to try to care for me in their homes if I some day reach this need for care. Elders need interaction, socializing, activities, hands-on care and assistance with meals. I hope I’m planning well. If not, I ask them to take steps for outside care.

I sang at Mother’s funeral, gave Reflections of her life and her illness, focusing on her last years. I was told it was beautifully delivered and awe-inspiring as it brought to focus the love and challenges of CARE GIVING.

Just writing this has calmed some of the sadness I have felt from losing her because I revisited my walk. A WALK OF LOVE.

Whewww.

We’re all different, handling things individually. I love her so much but she is no longer suffering. NEITHER AM I.

By Ramona Glasgow Charity, originally published on our Facebook page.

Written by Guest Author
The Caregiver Space accepts contributions from experts for The Caregiver's Toolbox and provides a platform for all caregivers in Caregiver Stories. Please read our author guidelines for more information and use our contact form to submit guest articles.

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6 Comments

  1. I lived with both my in-laws and my Mother-in-law passed away 2 years ago. Her death was sudden but prior to that, my Father-in-law and everyone pitched in to help. Now it’s just my FIL and it is challenging so many times. In addition to having him, my husband is disabled and so much of taking care of them is a lot.
    I use to think being a care taker would be fun but it is nothing that I had imagined. It’s a lot of work, stress and sometimes unhappy times. There are fun times in there but not as many as I thought there would be. So it’s nice to learn that my attitude just needs to change and how I look at things should change as well.

    Reply
  2. Thank you so much for your lovely offering. My 82-year-old mother lives with my family and I and requires 24/7 help, although she is not completely bedridden. I lost my job a few years back, but that has actually been a blessing as my mother’s health has declined and her needs have increased. I have two siblings who live in the same city — but do nothing– so everything is left to myself, my husband and my daughter. I often spend time wondering how I will react — and what I will DO — when I come downstairs one morning and find that she is gone. I’m scared — petrified — but, as you said, I wouldn’t change what I’m doing for anything in the world. Your article was a beautiful and reassuring reminder that we’re ALL doing “the right thing.” Thank you again.

    Reply
  3. WOW! so very similiar to my story. My Mom passed one month ago today but it was a Sunday. I was my mom’s main caregiver, She was diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2014 after 98 years healthy. She lived in her own home up until she died last month. She lived alone up until February when her health started failing and I moved in with her. I was exhausted but there is nothing I would change except I would have stopped working sooner.I did not realize how much I really loved her until I began taking care of her. God I loved her so much and I miss her so much. Her wit, her words of wisdom, her attitude, her caring nature and the love she had for her grandchildren. I was with her everyday after I moved in and on the Sunday she passed, my daughter, who was a huge help wanted to sit with her, so I went to Church and then came by for a couple of minutes because a friend and family doctor came by to visit but I left to go eat with a friend. After about 30 minutes into the meal, my daughter called and said her pulse was faint, she was calling the hospice nurse, Her pulse had been faint so I thought nothing of it and told her to call me when the nurse got there. Well, 10 minutes later, my sister, who had come home on Saturday called frantically, she was calling 911, I got there in 5 minutes and she was gone.My heart aches so much that I wasnt there. I so wanted to be there….Sunday afternoon is so difficult..

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  4. Wow…very well put. We all will have to deal with this at one point in our lives probably. Some sooner then others. We lost our dad Aug 2013. He had a rough early part of the year in and out of the hospital. He was having seizures & didn’t know why. We had every test done doctors suggested. He was also having trouble eating/swallowing. Last trip to the hospital in April of 13, we brought him home and we thought that was the end, but for some miracle he pepped up and started doing things….then only to get worse because of him not eating in the end. We had Hospice come in. But it was my sister and me that cared for him. She lost her job and she ended up doing 12 hours during the day so I could work and I would do the 12 hours at nite. IT WAS SOOOO hard. We were both there the last nite and she laid with him all nite. I would get up to go and check on him and give him morphine & lorazepam every couple hours. I woke up at 4:10am and went in and he was still breathing very shallow….I went back and laid down and it wasn’t 10 minutes & my sister was in there telling me he passed. I WOULD DO ALL OVER AGAIN…no matter the toll on me!!!

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  5. My Mother had a massive stroke in 2007 which left her paralized on right aide and her speech is all her own now. My older sister and I have been taking care of our Mother at home since that day. After all these years of fighting, not being able to go and do something when I wanted or needed I have decided to put Mom in a nursing home next month. Mom says its fine and for me to get on with my life. I am 47 and my sister is 60. My sisters health is not good and I am in constint pain from lifting my Mom. I cant go to a doctor because I dont have insurance. Since I made this descion, I cry daily because I dont know if im making the right descion. I will be at the nursing home on a daily basis to ensure my Moms care and to cominicate for her. How am I ever going to live with this quilt I have about doing this.? Any advise will be helpfull. I have tried to get counseling but cant afford it. Thanks Kathie

    Reply
    • Providing your mom with the care she needs isn’t something to feel guilty about. If you aren’t able to lift her, keeping her at home would be putting both of you in danger. Having your mother move to residential care is hardly ‘getting on with your life,’ since you’ll still be there to visit her, ensure she’s getting good care, taking care of all the paperwork, and all the other tasks that still need to be done. We have online support groups here where you can talk – for free – with other caregivers who are struggling with the same feelings of guilt.

      Reply

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