This year has already been a hard year. My parents' health struggles continued (there was a blip about it in my post about Dani's hooves). I tend to keep this blog horse focused but there has not been much horse stuff for me aside from the regular care for my babies who are both doing well. Anways I digress.
The horrible news is that in January my father passed away after a long struggle to gain strength in the aftermath his emergency intestinal surgery last September. He was doing better and had just gotten through a surgery to reverse the ileostomy bag. His heart began beating faster so he went to ICU. The morning of January 14th he was talking with a nurse and then suddenly had a heart attack and went quick and peacefully. It was instant we were told which is at least some comfort.
My mother had two additional back surgeries to clear out the infection. The second included a graft of muscle due to her skin around the wounds turning black. Then she had an emergency surgery for a perforation of the intestine. She was so weak I was surprised she made it through any of those three surgeries.
After the memorial I had wanted to get her on a plane with me to bring her home to NC. That did not happen since she was so weak I couldn't possibly have been able to help her navigate the airports. The hospital would not have discharged her either. The plan was to get her strong enough to be discharged to rehab and we could then have her on a plane to NC with a nurse to assist her during the flight. That was apparently not going to happen either. I received a call from the palliative nurses at the hospital in early March. I had a conversation with my mother that she didn't want to fight anymore. She would have to have more surgeries to fight her infection and her physical improvement was virtually nonexistent. She wanted to be on hospice. It was a hard phone call. I figured out what to do financially and chartered a medical flight from CO to NC on March 18th.
The fact that she was nearby was a blessing. She got to see her grandchildren and son many times and I got to spend time with her as well. Mom was on hospice but they did evaluate her for physical therapy. That was not a possibility since she was in such a fragile state. The nurses did get her up to sit in a chair but my mother was not able to stand that for long. She continued to decline. I freaked out shortly after she arrived when she had a urinary tract infection that manifested with major confusion and hallucinations on her part. It was very scary to me but at least cleared up quickly, certainly a new and disconcerting experience. Then Mom had an Emergency Room visit due to uncontrolled bleeding from her abdominal sutures that should have been long healed.
My mother just wasn't healing. She ate some food but not enough and what little she ate didn't really absorb into her system. In mid May I was told by hospice that she was declining and they felt she would pass in the next two weeks. A day later that timeline was one week and the next day we were told and could see for ourselves that it was very imminent. My brother and sister-in law came down on a Thursday, my aunt (mom's sister) flew in from the Caribbean and Mom's brother from Pennsylvania came down as well as a cousin from Georgia.
We spent Thursday, Friday and Saturday with her in the small nursing home room. She was aware she was dying I'm sure on Wednesday when I saw her and held her hand and told her how much I appreciated and loved her. She was aware on Thursday and told us she loved us, it was hard to talk and she was more moans than words but we knew and she knew and much love was exchanged as we all held her hand. When she rested the family talked about memories and we hope that with hearing being the last sense to go that Mom heard the happy memories and about how much we loved her. Friday she somewhat responded to us talking to her. Then Saturday her breathing was very gasping and labored. We didn't get much response from her. We all said we loved her and said our goodbyes probably 5 times throughout the day between going to lunch or taking breaks. When we left that evening we felt like this was the very last time we'd speak to her.
This has been the hardest thing I've had to do. Caring for my mother, trying not to be overwhelmed with everything that comes with being a Power of Attorney and Executor of an Estate, grieving for my passed father while staying strong to support my dying mother and then also trying to be there for her in the end and questioning whether I did enough. Now we live on...without Dad and without Mom, to carry on their love and reflect on the memories.
Dad died January 14th and Mom died May 14th. Exactly four months apart. I'm still in shock that both my parents are gone. Their lives over and plans ended. They were 72 and 74, still young enough to have been able to enjoy the golden years. It's hard to believe that 2022 isn't even at its halfway point and I feel like I've aged several years thus far. The road of grief lies before me but hopefully healing and peace as well. Peace be with you Mom and Dad, I'll love you forever.