18 April 2014
Dear Friends and Family,Sorry for the group note, but it is the best I can do for now. I send it with my most heart felt thanks for your concern, also for your prayers ... I can feel the loving presence of our Father and I am truly grateful!Momma has been moved to the Hospice House as a way of providing rest for me, also so that she might be observed and her condition accessed by health care professionals.Yesterday, after having the first full night of sleep in weeks, I toured a very nice nursing home/memory care facility and set things in motion for Momma to be admitted there once she is released from the Hospice House. I feel very good about the conditions she might expect to find herself in once she adjusts to the loss of independence.Though I constantly have to point out that "this is your apartment, see your furniture, etc" she does seem to find some comfort in her own surroundings ... and the absence of that will likely be be a great source of agitation for her. So ... when she is at home, she doesn't know where she is until I soothe her in to recognizing her things ... she frequently doesn't have a clue who I am though she does know she has a daughter named DeAnn ... it doesn't seem like a move to a care facility would be that big a deal, but for her it is. While I sat with her last night she told me that she saw many of our family member who have already passed ... she named them as they appeared to her. She was amazed to see Kenneth ... . Mostly her hallucinations are pleasant. She was getting a nice back rub when I left last night and was happy to kiss me goodnight.Later in the night she refused to take her medicine (stating, "I take NO medicines!!), and insisted she wanted to go home, claiming she has rights one minute and in the next claiming that she is "healed of liver cancer/heart disease/dementia by the stripes of Jesus" and therefore no longer requires any help with anything ... she has enough "umph" to push/pull herself up in the hospital bed, swing her feet over the side and scoot off in to a free fall. She has fallen several times and her breaking a hip or something worse is one of my big concerns. Those of you who know her well can imagine how she is reacting to this perceived loss of control. She is so loud and disruptive that I was told last night that the nursing home is sending people out to re-access what they may be getting in to (my words, not theirs) ... it's a real problem because I don't want her heavily sedated as she transitions towards what comes next. My hope is that the pain can be controlled and that she can be otherwise pampered ... catered to during these last days or weeks ... .After I got back to her place late last night I opted to skip all the getting ready for bed and just fell into bed ... then Hospice called saying my mom needed to talk to me. I spent an hour cajoling her in to cooperating with the nurses, assuring her that her stay with them was very short term. As she generally sleeps most of the morning, I thought I would check in on her and then possibly get a walk in around the State capital building. I haven't been there since Texas Girl's State, my junior year of HS, and it is an interesting building. Instead, I find myself with time to sit with my laptop atop my lap. I am outside Tommy's room at his home. My sister in law had to go to her office today and he needs someone on hand just in case. The "just in case" weighs heavy ... he is not passing food through his gastro tract. Last time we were here he spent a week in the hospital with a tube inserted through his nose to his stomach "sumping" the contents out to relieve pressure above the blockage (a nice way to say tumor ... one of them ... today he told me that there are a series of them that the food must make it's way around/through). He is resting now, later I am tasked with cleaning and re-dressing the incision site for the device that carries pus away from an infection inside his stomach. He says the chemo is making him stinky and he wants to shower before we address the bandage ... then new pain patch ... then maybe a sip of soup. I believe that he is actually just trying to get to the next moment when maybe he will feel slightly better. He is very concerned about what the next trip to the doctor will entail.This morning as I prayed, I realized that "this" will eventually be over for me ... Momma will pass, and hopefully, Tommy will battle his way to remission and survive to fight another day ... eventually, I will ... what? ... How does one say it? I know I will return from these front lines ... . I am exactly where I want to be under these circumstances. As do each of you, I wish "all this" wasn't happening, but because it is I am so very glad that I get to be helpful. Larry and the kids seem to be bearing up well in my absence. So glad.Today is Good Friday. I am grateful for what Christ has graciously provided for each one of us. God is good.
Momma's wish to not go to a "nursing home" was granted due to her passing on the 22nd ... just a few days after this letter was written. My brother was in the hospital (again) by then. That day I woke up at the hospice house and drove over to the hospital to be near Tommy for a little while. We knew he would be having the colostomy surgery later that day and I was anxious about the risks. I made a quick visit with him and stopped by the grocery store for a few items to make the stay at the hospice house more pleasant. My phone was ringing with a call from them when I eased Tommy's big truck back between the lines in their parking lot. Our momma passed quickly after I got back to her. I remember sitting there looking at the flowers I had just bought for her. It was ... surreal ... I really expected more time for/with her and had already made arrangements to keep her apartment for the summer.
That night I spent with Tommy at the hospital. I had the alarm set on my phone to ring every ten minutes in sync with the pain med push on his pump. It was a horrible night. Sometime the next day he realized that I wouldn't have spent the night there unless Momma was already gone.
Now ... I am back home from his funeral. He passed the day after Christmas. It was a pain-filled time for me. He was Tommy ... gracious, courageous, strong and kind hearted in his ways right up to his last words to me among which were, "Get ready for the (wife's name) show which this will be from here on out - sorry to leave you with that".
refuge - a condition of being safe or sheltered from pursuit, danger, or trouble.
shield - protect (someone or something) from a danger, risk, or unpleasant experience.
rampart - a defensive wall - fortify or surround with or as if with a rampart.
I'm thinking of myself as "in God's hand".
My husband thinks I should take the week off from work and he's probably right.
My family has been incredibly helpful this year. L has shouldered a lot of the load making it possible for me to shift my focus towards first Momma's and then Tommy's needs ... or perhaps better stated, my need to tend to them as best I could. The girls have looked after one another and "home" things in my absence and in my absent-mindedness. I am glad to be home. I am fortunate. I am thankful.
This week I plan to ... drink as much coffee as I might want to ... read a few books (next up, GEORGE MACDONALD by C.S.Lewis) ... not make myself walk (in the cold) ... nap extensively ... and basically do whatever seems nicest to do. We did Christmas this past weekend ... I'll take this week off ... my birthday is next week and by then I 'm pretty sure I'll be ready for a new year.