Advocacy, Death & Dying, Life & Living

in the arms of the angels: august 7, 2016

I didn’t see Mom on August 7 (a Sunday), because I played in an interclub golf event, which lasted the whole day. But I knew she would be safe and loved for at least part of the day because Ingrid* would be with her from 3 p.m. in the afternoon until about 7, as she was most Sundays.

Like Sally,* Gaby, and our Caroline, Ingrid was one of Mom’s earthbound guardian angels. She’d been visiting Mom weekly for two years. And just like Mom loved Sally, and Sally loved her, Mom loved Ingrid and Ingrid loved Mom. Same with Sandy, who went to the residence to do Mom’s hair every Friday. Mom and I were incredibly fortunate to have these angels in our lives. We never would have made it otherwise. Never.

I called Ingrid later, to see how her time with Mom had gone that afternoon. She confirmed my experience of the previous several days. Mom was tired, exhausted even, and both of her legs were swollen; one was worse than the other.

“She ate her dinner with her eyes closed,” Ingrid said. “But at least she ate.”

Ingrid described the fixed stare as Mom “not being there.” She doesn’t look directly at me, she said, but somewhere else, like she’s spacey or something. I told her I knew exactly what she meant. We wondered at the potential causes: the trauma of the injuries she’d suffered, Mom’s fighting spirit, and/or her letting go of this life.

“We also don’t know if she’s on any additional drugs,” I said.

“They don’t give her anything in front of me anymore,” Ingrid replied. “The only thing they do in front of me is the eye drops. Other than that I don’t see when they give her medication.”

“Yeah,” I said, unsurprised.

“I don’t know if it’s because I complained when she spit it out the pills, or if it’s because they give them to her at different times. I really don’t know,” Ingrid said.

Ingrid may not have known why, but I did. It was all about power and control: of Mom, of me, of other residents and family members, of the staff, of the flawed approach to care.

“When I was there, she would also spit out the pills, and then they would force her to take them, which they’re not supposed to do,” I said. “If the person refuses, they’re not supposed to force them, but it’s been like this since the beginning.”

Could I have done anything differently? Anything better? Looking back, I don’t think so. I believe I did everything I possibly could, and so did the angels to whom I am so grateful – the ones that put their arms around Mom and me on our journey home.

the beginning of the end: july 26, 2016

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