Choosing

The past week has been a blur. My mom had her last journey in life – and even in this she taught me new lessons.

Mom finally got to the point that she just wanted everything to stop when she was in the hospital – the IVs, the poking for blood, all of it. She was very clear about this – both her nurse and the chaplain remarked on this. My mom has been the comeback kid through so many things – that when the time came for her to choose, it was brave and totally in character for her to make this decision.

I have to say, that moment was pretty devastating to live through as her daughter. My mom and I have been pretty close over the past few years, and while I never thought to challenge her decision, it was a moment when I knew the end was closer than I wanted it to be for her.

Hospitals today make all of this far easier to handle than they used to – and the nurses and everyone could not have been sweeter – one of her nurses even came up to see us when she went off her shift.

As lovely as the hospital was, it wasn’t home to mom – she really wanted to go back to Drake Terrace, so we did. The past week was spent with family and familiar faces of the staff caring for her. Her niece, my cousin, Marie, came, along with her husband Dennis and their daughters Allison and Rachel. She talked with friends on the phone, and even got a visit from Tennessee, a therapy cat. She looked so good on Saturday that my cousin thought there might be another rebound.

And up to almost the end, in spite of being in bed, mom had some enjoyment each day – listening to piano music that reminded her of her older sister Virginia playing the piano, or her Mexican dance music – she even said, “Ole Ole!” in rhythm to Chiapanecas the day before she died. Always the party girl to the end!

The last day was stressful and hard, but it was only one day. Hospice helped us greatly to relieve her anxiety, and we always had someone there to comfort her – her greatest fear was abandonment, and she was accompanied to the last. I am so glad I was in the room as she slipped away. It was not scary, and I even remarked at the time that she got most of what she wanted at the end of life – to not hang on and suffer, but to go quickly.

A family friend remarked that he hoped we would all be able to choose as well as my mom did – that when life has lost its fun and meaning, we will be able to bravely look death in the face and choose what is best.

My mom had plenty of moments of joy in her 91 years, and shared her zest for life with so many. She loved people, was always kind to the ones who had it hard, and treated everyone in a lovely way. I can only hope as her daughter to treat people as kindly as she did.

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Dorothy “Helen” Rico

January 27, 1922 – March 7, 2013

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17 thoughts on “Choosing

  1. My Mon just turned 97 and even though she is vital and able to do for herself I realize how fragile she is. She has been clear about not wanting any intervention and I intend to honor that. This post was comforting to me and good for your Mom!

  2. Yes, having those conversations ahead of time – with all the family members – is really important. Glad your mom is still having a great time!

  3. Renee I’m so glad I had a chance to see her last week and to see that she was calm and at peace with herself and that she takes a wealth of love with her that only a daughter can give to a mom. Thanks for sharing some of that precious time. I still can see her back in your family home at the kitchen table telling us back in 1974, oh you two girls are so funny and smart! I’m glad she let us laugh loudly and be goofy as only a mom can. Be gentle with yourself these days of transition.

  4. Thank you for letting us glimpse into this very unique and amazing time in one’s life — passing on, and helping a loved parent pass on. “Choosing” is so important and your mom’s choice to move on, and your choice to support her, is such a great witness to living life fully and letting go fully when you finally say, dayenu. Our prayer of awareness this week almost was about asking God to loosen our grip. How powerful to freely open one’s hand and go boldly into the next moment, even if we’re not sure what it will bring. What a good daughter you were, and are! And to mom, I say: Ole!

  5. My fondest memories of your mom are those of her playing castanets in your living room with The Man of La Mancha playing. Good times. To have a good death on your own terms is a blessing. May God richly bless you during these tough days.

  6. It has ben a long road, with many unexpected, and sometimes unwanted turns for you these past couple of years. Thanks be for people who help make the transitions, even into the time preceding of death, into unexpected blessings. I hope you are now able to take a few deep breaths, to knit a quiet row or two, play laser tag with a kitty and know that the night’s sleep will not be interrupted by “that” phone call. May each day bring forth the blessings of good memories and current friendships.

  7. My Ravelry pal, I’m so sorry to hear about your mom. But as deaths go, it seems like hers was pretty good. It’s wonderful that you were able to bring her home for a couple last days.
    Best,
    Allison

  8. Renee, I, too, am both daughter and caregiver for my 94 year old mother – sharp as an old kinda bent tack and lovely as ever. Thanks for sharing your mother’s steps on the journey, and giving me courage to face this inevitable future with my own. Peace to you, Lynda

  9. Renee, You have been a blessing to me, and I hope you feel my love and prayers to you and your family. I met your mom, she was a beautiful woman filled with joy. My deepest sympathy to you. Marti Cermak

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