It was a Divinely arranged moment, and in spite of the sadness of the occasion, it could have not been more perfect. We found out that our dear friend’s melanoma had returned on Tuesday. On Friday we had the opportunity to visit her. When we walked into her hospital room, she was alone. Her family had just left to go to dinner, and we had about 30 minutes of uninterrupted time. We laughed, cried, reminisced, and prayed. She said that she had a win-win situation going on. If she got well, she won. On the other hand, if God took her home, she also won. Our precious friend had it exactly right, and her attitude was comforting and inspiring.
When I held her hand just as we were leaving, I knew I was seeing her face for the last time this side of heaven. The next morning, she slipped into a coma, and God took her home the next day.
I am so thankful that God arranged our special last moment together.
Several months ago I was honored to be contacted by the Hospice Foundation of America. After reading some of my posts about my family’s experiences with feeding tubes and decisions involved with that issue, the HFA wanted to talk to me. They asked me to be part of a DVD they produce annually which provides training for hospice clinicians.
The interview lasted about two and a half hours, and I was completely emotionally and mentally drained at the end. I shared the entire story of my parent’s cancer, and discussed my mother’s feeding tube, as well as my father-in-law’s feeding tube. The filming was professionally done and I was respectfully treated.
A few weeks ago I received my copy of the DVD, and was very pleased with the way it ‘turned out’. It was well designed and professionally edited. My original interview was condensed and inserted into several places in the presentation,
I would like to thank the Hospice Foundation of America for including me in this project. It was a privilege and an honor. Perhaps some of the things I said will be helpful in the way clinicians work with hospice families as they work through the decisions involved with feeding tubes.
Caring for a family member who has cancer has it’s own unique challenges. Challenges not found in other long term care situations. These include, but are certainly not limited to chemotherapy and radiation and the side effects that go with them.
However, there are challenges I faced with Mom’s care that are applicable to any situation that involves working with health care professionals, from hospital staff to hospice staff.
Building positive relationships with everyone who cares for your loved one is an absolutely necessary building block. It will help ensure that your ill family member will receive good care, especially when you are not present.
“You are my sunshine. My only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are gray. And I love you.”. That was my grandmother’s version of that wonderful old song. I heard it many times when she was in the nursing home. She sang it to me. She sang it to her roommate. She sang it to the CNAs who cared for her every day. She sang it when she was having a good day. She sang it when she was having a bad day. It was her way of expressing love to those around her. It was also her way of coping with life when things were not going well.
She told me that occasionally she felt like she was being treated roughly when CNAs were showering her or helping her change clothes. You can be sure that I had another conversation with the director of nursing every time she mentioned this to me. I asked her what she did when she felt like the CNAs were being rough. She replied that she sang the sunshine song. I asked, “What do they do when you start to sing that song?” She grinned and said, “They smile all over themselves.”
Mom understood all about catching “more flies with honey than vinegar”.
I had her close by for almost a year. I saw her three to five times a week. We shared many meals, conversations, tears, and special beyond words moments. I had the privilege and blessing of putting lotion on her feet, washing her false teeth, and tucking her into bed at almost every visit.
She had a few month of increasing strength, then turned a corner and began gradually declining. As she got weaker, her pain increased. She talked less and ate less.
Six weeks after her 99th birthday she stepped into heaven. Yes, I miss her every day, and there are still hard moments, but I know she is where she needs to be.
In my next post I will share some of the things I learned from her during our time together.
In August I went back to my teaching career. There were several reasons for returning to the classroom, all of them financial. However, when I decided to go back to work full time, working with special needs children, I decided to have a good attitude about the change in my life. Yes, I enjoyed my time at home, being a Mary Kay director, caring for my husband when he broke his ankles and help my grandmother recover from her life threatening illness. Yes. it was very good, but that season of my life is over….at least for now.
No, I don’t care for having to get up and get out of the house early in the morning, and not everything is great about teaching, but God has provided an excellent position in a wonderful school. He has give me two wonderful aides, and precious children to teach. Watching these children learn is very rewarding. This is a new season for me, and I am enjoying it.
Because of this my ‘blog writing’ time has been reduced. Actually it has stopped for several months now. I appreciate all the people who have still been reading even though there has been no new material.
During the next few days, I am going to attempt to post some updates for the people I have written about previously and then add some new material about families and cancer.
Tony Snow was a role model for how to live, how to work and how to die.
I first became aware of this interesting man when he would fill in for Rush Limbaugh. I enjoyed listening to his political perspective which became more authentic to me when I listened to him talk about his life and his family. He just seemed to be a very ‘real’ person, with no facade, no phoniness in his heart. I thought of him as a person who was exactly the same whether he was surrounded by important dignitaries or common folk. He was who he was.
One of my most vivid memories of Tony Snow was his discussion of the kitchen fire in their home that had occured late one night after everyone had gone to bed. I know he gave vivid descriptions of the events, but what stuck in my memory was his discussion of being questioned by the fire department investigators about the fire, because he had been the last one to bed, the last one in the kitchen that night. Tony talked about how it felt to be grilled and to be considered suspect in that fire. Of course, he was not at fault. That fire was one of life’s events that just happened. Again, his sharing this moment in his life with us, confirmed his authenticity in my mind.
Tony taught us how to die. As he lived out his life before us, his Colan cancer diagnosis, his treatment, his cancer return, and ultimately his death, we observed the grace, dignity, optimism and faith which characterized Tony’s life, also characterized his death.
Log on to this Christianity Today written by Tony Snow for an amazing perspective on cancer and it’s unexpected blessings. http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2007/july/25.30.html
Thank you, Father, for Tony Snow. Thank you for allowing us to learn from his life, his faith, and his death. Bless Ton’s family with your Presence and your Peace during this difficult time. In the name of our Savior, Amen.