My mother’s death
For the past 15 years we’ve assumed that I would die before my mother. Nobody hated that idea more than mom. As Ginny and I have said many times since the death of our son Preston twelve years ago, parents aren’t meant to outlive their children.
My medical condition has encouraged me to think about death more than I naturally would have. A year ago mom wasn’t very happy. She could recognize the nasty effects of the dementia that was eating away at her. One of the most social people on the planet, she couldn’t keep up with conversations. She didn’t feel good. She often didn’t know where she was. Although I worried what mom’s death would do to my sister, who had built much of her life around caring for our mother, I thought mom should die then. It turns out I was wrong. She moved into an area at her retirement community for more advanced dementia cases and she thrived there. She was smiling and happy. The last seven or eight months have been good. The dementia helped her forget my condition. Last week she made her exit gracefully. There was little pain or suffering. We don’t know how much of our conversation was able to pierce her coma, but at least we had our chance to say goodbye. She’d had 90 years and only one of them–the year my dad died–was less than wonderful.
She died like I want to die. Maybe that’s why I haven’t shed any tears about her passing, not even as I comforted cousins who were weeping. I choked up once or twice, but I didn’t even have to fight back tears. It’s felt like everything has happened the way it’s supposed to happen. Patti and Ginny feel the same way.
The right kind of death can be a gift.