Thursday, October 30, 2008
Tuesday evening, brother Ken arrived from New York; yesterday, my two eldest sisters arrived from Columbus OH, last night brother from the east coast of FL arrived with his kids, and this morning brother from PA arrives. It's a command performance. The last time all the siblings were together was July 1997, when dad passed away.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Friday, October 17, 2008
Norbert and Mary Anne left around 11:00, and Mark was snoozing in the lounge chair. The TV was still delivering pitches and play by plays - to no one. I sat patiently. Mark opened his eyes, and sat up and I suggested he go home. Reluctantly, he kissed mom good bye, telling her to "hang in there". Mark is emotionally challenged, and no matter how many times we remind him that it's better to "allow" mom to go when she's ready, and not ask her to "hang in there" - he doesn't get it. We all deal with dying in our own way.
Mark left, I turned off the TV, readjusted the room lighting, and sat down with a book.
The cooridor sounds carried occassional beeps and buzzers, chatter among the aides. Mom's breathing was steady with occasional gasps or gurgles. I would glance up from my book, observe the rise and fall of her chest or the twitch of her mouth then return to my book. I sat with my eyes closed, thinking about my first memory of my mother. I am seven in the line of ten children, and there wasn't much individual time. I remember being four or five and falling on a sharp object and putting a gash in my right knee. I limped crying into the kitchen where mom and my sisters were washing the supper dishes. My memory is of mom's white apron strings as she stood at the sink. "Go on in to the bathroom and I'll be right there" she had said. I was sure I was going to bleed to death before she came in and patched me up.
The nurse popped her head in the door, asked if all was OK, I gave a nod and a smile and she left. Eventually, I readjusted the lighting, pulled a blanket from the drawer, repositioned myself in the lounger and dozed. Mom would gurgle or mumble, bringing me conscious, only to be assured that she was fine and return to my dozing. Around 3:00 AM, mom's mumbling became more aggressive. She began what I call looped language, repeating incoherent phrases over and over. This time is was "please please please... " and then inaudible mumble and then "please please please.." I sat up, held her hand and stroked her forehead. I reassured her all was OK. The nurse heard her and came in. I was being soft spoken, to keep her calm. The nurse, however called her name strongly: "Kaye? what do you want? Kaye? can you hear me?" Mom responded, so I put the lights up. "Do you want some water, Kaye?" the nurse asked. "That would be fine" she replied, so we positioned the straw in her mouth. She drew a little. "She likes ice cream, doesn't she?" the nurse asked. Mom's love of ice cream was well known. "Do you want some ice cream?" the nurse asked "Oh I always would like that!" mom responded. We gave her a few spoonsful, until she said "no more right now" She drifted back to sleep, and so did I.
From my light sleep, I heard a familiar voice in the hallway. It was my brother Mark. "Is Shelly in there?" I heard him ask (he's one of the few that still calls me Shelly - if you ever call me Shelly I may have to hurt you!! ). I looked at the clock and it was 6 AM. I brought the lights up, and sat holding mom's hand. Her eyes darted wide open, just as bright as could be. She began talking incessantly. "I don't know what to do" she would say "Help me" she would plead. I stroked her cheek and said, "Mom. It's Michelle. I"m here..." she said, "My Michelle? OH!" and smiled. It warmed my heart to tears.
Mark came in like a bull in a china shop. Because of his physical and emotional disabilities, he's very indelicate in his movement. Right away he began fidgeting about, placing photos in mom's line of sight, fumbling with a quilt her brought from her home, kissing her on the forehead with such strength that she grimaced and said "stop stop!" Be gentle, Mark! I urged. He immediately took it personally and turned away near tears. I hugged him, told him we all know how much he loves her, and now that he was here, I'd go home.
I'm about to head back in. My nephew from Washington State comes in this evening. Who knows what the day will bring. These are indeed stressful times.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Mom has a living will, and being artificially sustained is against her wishes. The decision was made to remove the ventilator. We were fully prepared for her to expire once the tube was removed. That was nearly 24 hours ago. She's still breathing on her own.
They moved her out of ICU and into a hospice house. No IV's. No needles, no tests, no tubes, no noise. Peace and comfort. It's just a matter of time, now.
Mom mumbles, gets anxious, loops language, calls out. She mentions names that we can associate with family members who have passed.
I have never feared dying, only the pain that might be associated with it. We asked mom if she was in pain. The nurse was ready with a shot of morphine. Mom said no. She's a tough old bird. Her maiden name is Kessler. Give a clue? She's a stubborn german!!
The dying process. Transition. Passing. All terms and expressions that have little meaning until you are thrust in the middle of it. What do we hold on to, and why?
This is a life-changing event. Undoubtedly. It will change the lives of all my brothers and sisters and of many people who have been brought together and kept together because of one frail little woman called Kathryn Therese DeMars.
May God Bless Her and Keep Her.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
I just got home about an hour and a half ago, from St. Augustine. The ride home was far more enjoyable than the ride up. I guess knowing where one is going does wonders for your psyche. Clerk school was good...overall. Florida municipal clerks are a great group of people. The profession is unique, and in florida, with the sunshine laws as stringent as they are, and the overwhelming restrictions, it requires a certain personality to be able to be successful in this type of job. I did my 40 hours of class (woo hoo!!) and submitted my "Ideas to Action" report. Now is the waiting game, to get my certificate of accomplishment, to submit to the International Institute of Municipal Clerks for my designation of Certified Municipal Clerk (CMC) . Three long, hard years......
St. Augustine was fun. It is the oldest city in the nation. The cobblestone streets, and historic structures, forts, and just the city's history is enjoyable. One evening, I joined about 30 others on a tour called the "ghosts and gravestones" tour, where actors dress up and take folks to the "oldest home" the "oldest drug store" the "graveyard"... it was hokey, but gave me the opportunity to see sites that I may not otherwise see.
I have some pictures I'd like to share, but I guess I need first to figure out how to post them to this new blog. (If you know and care to tell me so I don't have to read...lol...)
Until we meet again,
Nice to be home.
Monday, October 6, 2008
I imagine it seems that the moment AOL announced that journals were closing, i stopped with journal entries.. That's just a coincidence. Truth be known, I"ve been incredibly busy. Now, I'm at the Renaissance Resort at Golf Village, St. Augustine, Florida for the Florida Association of City Clerks' Career Development Institute.
The resort is gorgeous, sumptuous, opulent. I'm an internet junkie, and t hey want $12.95 a day - noon to noon - for internet access. not that I'm cheap, but i couldn't even figure out how to connect. I got bored with that.
Tomorrow, we're taking a tour of 'old town" st. augustine. ..Lots of history. Lots of good people. I can't believe it's only Monday night.
The sessions are boring. Our afternoon session ended an hour early, because the program coordinators feared a mutiny by the attendees because it was SOOO BORING...! Project Management <<yawn>> by a monitone presenter who literally read his power point handout to us.... <<double yawn>>.
Thank goodness for my trusty black berry...even playing "rooster" during boring sessions affords some relief....
Michelle welcomes e-mails to keep her entertained... firstname.lastname@example.org