During the days between Daddy’s death and his funeral service, Mother seemed to perk up. She took part in decisions about poll bearers, visited with those who came to express their condolences and talked about things that she had not even thought about since becoming ill. My hopes for her were higher than they had been for almost a year.
However, it wasn’t long until we realized that her alertness was a passing moment. She, once again, continued on her slow decline. She was diagnosed with Parkinson’s which also complicated her ability do care for herself. She gradually lost her ability to stand, to sit up straight, to feed herself, to do anything at all. This decline was spread over a year and nine months.
During that time our sister, Susan, became the primary person who over saw her care. Susan was wonderful. She went to the nursing home every day, sometimes twice or three times a day if necessary.
One of the first things that Mother lost was the ability to do was to dial phone numbers. Well, everyone’s number except Susan’s! She called Susan several times a day. Many times the conversation was something like, “Susan, I am over here at 7-11 and I’m lost. Can you come get me?” Well, of course, she wasn’t at 7-11. Mother was in her room at the nursing home sitting in her lift chair. Donna would call the nusing home, let the nurse know that Mother was ‘wandering’ again, and then go up there and reassure Mother that she had indeed been ‘found’.
We took her to several doctors, trying desperately to reverse or at least slow down her physical and mental deterioration. The doctors were compassionate, but had very little help. There were medications to treat her symptoms, but nothing that made any real difference. Eventually trips to the doctor just became too difficult for her. We couldn’t continue to put her through the ordeal of another ride on the nursing home van, and sitting in a doctor’s lobby when she couldn’t even hold herself upright in her wheelchair. It was too hard.
We found a doctor who came to the nursing home for regular visits, and he began to treat her. We appreciated all he did for her. Her cancer never returned. The chemo and mastectomy had stopped the breast cancer in its tracks. She was just never able to thrive after Daddy’s death. It was very sad to watch.
There were times that she would cry and beg us to take her home. We knew she couldn’t go home and so did she. We would have taken her in with us, if it had been possible. But her health had declined to the point that leaving the nursing home became impossible.
The end begins.