Together we were one perfect person.

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That's what my mom and I always said about the two of us. I am disabled, with spinal and leg problems. She has bad hands from years and years of finger joint replacements that kept blowing out. Between us, we made one perfect person. :) We were probably closer than most - we own two houses on the same lot and spent just about every moment together. Not just Mom and daughter, but two Best Friends Forever. Even as a teenager, when other kids were hiding things from their moms, my friends and I were telling her everything.

I lost her on February 2nd of this year. My life has stopped. I'll be honest - it is a struggle to have purpose in rising every day, to feel anything more than grief, to even open the drapes. I have been to the doctor once and the grocery store twice in 4 months. I switched grocery stores because anytime anyone asked how my mom was, I would sob like a baby right there in the middle of God and everyone.

I used to be a tough, take-charge former Woman Marine. Now I'm a shameful, messy puddle.

I answered a post here today from a woman who was a little overwhelmed doing caregiving for her dad and realized that was the first time I have actually tried to do something comforting for someone else since my Mom died. Did my sense of "care" end when caregiving did?

The end was horrible for my Mom. Nothing like what we had planned and talked about. I knew all her wishes, had them all in writing but still had to make decisions that gnaw at me. It was slow and painful and agonizing and horrible and nothing I did helped.

There is but one large thing that keeps my heart from shattering into itty bitty pieces. From the end of November to the day she died, she spent so much time going back and forth from the hospital to the rehab center. She just never could get well and became extremely physically abusive. (We won't even talk about what colorful words came out of my sweet little Mama's mouth!) :) I can't even count the times I, the physical therapists, nurses and aides got slugged when we weren't expecting it. ANYtime you messed with her - whether it was to try and get her to eat, adjust her in her wheelchair, change her adult diaper, turn her in bed -- well, just do it and duck is what I used to say.

Because of her aggressiveness and tendency to "break out", they had to put her in the locked Alz ward. I was shellshocked. I cannot conceive of how it must be for those who must stay in a rehab center, locked Alz ward or hospital alone, frightened and sad. It was horrifying to me that she had to be there and most days I spent between 8 and 12 hours there. She was much easier to handle when I was around. I brought her little dog every other day and ended up falling in love with almost every single patient there. What floored me was that some had been there 12 years or more and had NEVER had a visitor. Sometimes I think I went just to get all the grateful lovin' from those dear, sweet, lovely alz patients. God, how I loved them. I miss them too. And if I wasn't afraid that I would rip one nurse up with my teeth and spit her out, I would probably go back just to see those darlin' souls. ;)

Anyway (how I do blather on and on, huh?) I felt that some of the nursing home staff was being neglectful and even disrespectful to patients at times. The admin there always had an uh-oh kind of attitude with me because I AM outspoken, vocal and pull no punches when it comes to dressing up how I feel. After several horrible days and many more complications from what I felt was neglect, I decided one night to go home, call hospice and get her back home ASAP. She came home the next morning at 8:30 a.m., and though she was slugging away at the ambulance EMTs, the moment they wheeled her into her old room, she grabbed my hand, crying, and thanked me. "Oh baby, I'm home, I'm home!" That's all she cared about, that gave her peace I guess, and it was the beginning of the end. The hospice nurses told me maybe what she wanted was to know she could go now. She was safe at home. She died four days after coming home.

THAT is the moment that saved me. That one moment of perfect clarity in all of the horrible, heartbreaking ones made me know that my Mama was still in there and what I had done mattered.

Still and all, I feel like half of a very imperfect person. I wonder if that will ever go away. I still use present-tense when talking about her almost all the time. There is nothing more painful than going from "we" to "I". I still pull out two coffee cups every morning. I'm pissed that miniature roses and huge, fluffy peonies are blooming and she's not here to see them. I nursed a pear tree back to health years ago when we bought this place and she watched it closely for fruit daily - one day I used double-stick tape and hung a big, juicy pear (from the grocery store) there and died laughing when she saw it, gasping open-mouthed & smiling. All that memory does now is make me cry.

4 Comments

Oh BodyBytes, tears are rolling down my face. Your poor sweet (and combative ;) ) mom and your lovely devotion to each other- it is awe inspiring. I think it is OK for you to still be so sad -you went through a lot and you probably did not grieve when you were fighting for your Mom's rights. And now it is catch-up time --not just for your Mom's passing but for all the hard times in between-the aggressiveness and the locked ward and all the pain you shared with her throughout her disease.
I think that you will be able to laugh again sooner than you think. You are a strong woman- I can tell from this post-- and smart--and I am sure you know your Mom would NEVER want you to let her passing destroy your future. She would want you to be her strong girl and learn how to make it without her physically with you. And , personally, I think you are still one perfect person together--maybe more so now than ever. She is with you still, I think. She is in your heart and forever ingrained in your memories. But now she is not in pain or in anguish. Celebrate that. Celebrate that she is free from pain and fear. Even though you miss her terribly. And celebrate your wonderful , beautiful friendship you too had.
And , when you feel stronger, maybe go visit those poor souls in the NH. It may be a calling for you.

Keeping you in my prayers if that is OK. (((((hugs)))))
too often hospice steers elders towards an institution. its not hard to see why. they only have to visit an hour every now and then and the NH staff provides the round the clock care. hospices' first priority isnt the elders well being, their primary goal is making money. glad you brought her home, she clearly appreciated it.
Thank you for sharing your story bodybytes...it was so poignantly written and truly inspirational. The love and friendship you shared with your mom is palpable and her loss is still very new. Allow yourself time to heal. As Mishka said she is still with you and always will be. When I lost my dad at age 16 someone (can't even remember who) consoled me by saying he was "up with the stars"....for some reason I found great comfort in that and to this day every time I look up at a star filled sky I feel him looking back down, and smiling. Take a moment tonight to glance up at the stars. (((((Hugs)))))
Thank you Mishka. I have had trouble with my faith, but please... prayer seems to be the only thing that feels right at this point in my life. So yes, thanks for the prayers as well as the message. capnhardass, hospice didn't have anything to do with the decision... my mom had emergency gall bladder surgery early in December but never recovered. When she went to rehab to "get stronger", she contracted pneumonia in rehab. Back to intensive care, then back again to rehab. Caught the flu being passed around at the rehab center and back to the hospital. It was after she was transferred back to the rehab center and developed horrible bedsores that I told them I didn't care what they thought, I was taking her out of there. And yaya, you know what? When I go give my miniature horse her midnight snack before bed every night, I often stand outside and quietly sing that song "Somewhere out there, beneath the pale moonlight, someone's thinking of me and loving me tonight..." and yes, I feel her there, because the last thing we always did at the end of our day was to go visit the BabyHorse that is named after her. :)

Thank you all for your kind words.

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