Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Sad News.... About Aunt Tod

Sad news…

Aunt Tod suffered a severe stroke last night in the hospital and is paralyzed on the right side and unable to speak anymore. I have been in tears half the day. (This is good. Tears have never come easily to me and they are this time… I need to cry!)

Jackie and I went to see her this morning as soon as her doctor called Jackie to tell her about the event. Tod was barely conscious, agitated and in pain because they had taken her off the pain medications to see if they could get a better response out of her other than one half-opened eye. When Jackie and I got there, Tod opened both eyes, but is completely unable to move her right side and can’t talk. We could tell she was in pain and asked for them to provide pain medication to her in whatever amounts she requires to remain comfortable.

The doctor told Jackie that Tod’s dialysis isn’t doing her much good anymore and is more trouble to her than it’s worth, that she’s definitely approaching the end of her life. So Jackie asked him the hard question I asked her to ask: "If she was your mother, what would you do?" He said he would make her comfortable, discontinue dialysis and consign her to Hospice where she will receive compassionate palliative care and be closer to family for the rest of her time with us. So we agreed to that, and contacted all her loved ones to let them know what’s happening now…

I am happy we had a wonderful weekend together and distraught that our plans to get her into assisted living are at an end. I know the Hospice facility they will be taking her to is terrific -- I have visited terminally ill people there before. It’s just blocks from where I work so I can visit her at lunch time and after work every day while she’s here. Jackie is making arrangements for her cremation and Tim will be sure her ashes get to Sequim where they can be reunited with Johnny’s, her husband of 63 years who preceded her in death eight years ago.

I hardly knew Aunt Tod up until she moved up here. I knew her perhaps fifteen days out of my entire life before her move in April, except that I wrote to her from afar all these years – and she always acknowledged my birthday and other occasions with cards – and was always, without exception, supportive of all my quixotic dreams (which have come true now that I’m a professional writer).

I’m caught between good bye and I love you. I have fallen in love with Aunt Tod since I’ve been caring for her one-on-one on weekends and some evenings for five months. I’m so glad she came up here to be with us for the last months of her life. It has been such a blessing to me to have her here and to get to know her better – and to truly love her and know who it is I’m loving and will soon be losing.

I pray that what the doctor has prescribed for her is something she would want for herself. She didn’t make any advanced directives for her life so we’re only doing what we feel we would want done if we were in her situation… and how can anyone truly know that, unless they have been specifically told by the person in the hospital bed?
This is so hard. It’s good I can cry. Something like this can only be dealt with by the heart and spirit.

She’ll be with Johnny again soon. He’s waiting with open arms. I hope it happens soon, and peacefully, and I hope I’m there when it happens…

I want to see the angels carry her spirit off…

She was agitated right up until I told her what I knew she wanted to tell us. She always told me the same thing as I left: "Thank you for taking such good care of me." As soon as I said that, she relaxed and leaned back on her pillow and seemed calmer.
That’s all she wanted to say. And I could say it for her because I have heard it so many times before.

Oh, God, this is so hard – even though I know I will see her again in heaven someday.

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