This is the last photo I have of my mother Barbara looking relatively healthy. It's from August 8.
Here she is with her sister Joyce.😘 We had a very nice lunch along with my visiting daughter, Rowan. (Mom was much more...distractable...that day.)
On August 14, Mom fell (probably her eighth serious fall since early 2019) and badly hurt her elbow and the side of her head. When I took her back to the memory care from the emergency room, I had to practically carry her from the car. 😓
She never really recovered. She started sleeping all day and being up all night.
A week later, at the recommendation of Michelle, the memory care nursing director, and Laura, her nurse practitioner, Mom went on hospice.
Hope Hospice is a wonderful organization, and they swarmed my mom (and me) with love and attention. 💖
On the 23rd, I removed Mom's bed so a hospital bed could go in her room. She was barely conscious of being put into a wheelchair while we waited for the delivery of her bed. The hospice doctor, Matt, was there. He promised to keep Mom comfortable.
On the 28th, Heather, the hospice nurse, called to say my mom wasn't doing well but was stable.
On the 30th, a different Michelle, the nurse on duty. called to update me again. She said I should definitely come see Mom. (This Michelle has a beautiful Jamaican accent. 🇯🇲)
That day was hard. I spent about 90 minutes with Mom. I brought her my teddy bear, Merriweather (given to me when I was in the hospital for two weeks when I was 15), to hold. (I have a photo of her clutching the Bear, but she doesn't look too good in that photo.)
Mom was unresponsive, with shallow breathing and an irregular heartbeat.
Heather came by and confirmed that Mom was transitioning, and we decided to order some morphine and some Ativan. She also said I should tell my Mom it was okay if she wanted to let go. The hospice chaplain, David, also came by, and, at my request, he said a prayer for Mom. 🙏
When I left, I gave Mom a kiss 😚 and told her I'd be back tomorrow.
I never had the chance.
At 1 a.m. on the 31st, Jackie from the hospice called and said that my mom had passed, peacefully, at 11:50 p.m. on the 30th. I waited until the morning to tell Joyce, my brothers, my Dad, Ed, my cousins, and some of my closest friends.
Today, my cousin Tim and his wife Courtney helped me empty out my Mom's room. We took the furniture and the clothes to Goodwill and the rest, including an Afghan crocheted by Mom's mother, Myrtle, and Merriweather the Bear, I brought home.
So ended my Mom's time here on earth. I believe she chose to check out when her quality of life was no longer worth the effort.
While I was able to prepare for this day, especially during the 34 months since Frank Gilbert died and my Mom became my primary responsibility, I'm feeling an incredible heaviness right now.
Barbara was the *best* Mom a man could want. 💝 She had a very good, rich, adventurous life. I'll write more about that later.
Among my more self-centered thoughts: Now that she's gone, what do I do?
Big up to the staff at Cypress Point Memory Care. They loved my Mom dearly (one aide called her "My Barbie Doll") and greatly appreciated her spunk and humor. Also thanks to the first responders and everyone at Gulf Coast Medical Center.
Special shout-out to Joyce ❤ for being there for my Mom and me throughout. She's the best Aunt and sister in the whole world.
And I'm sending another check to the Alzheimer's Association. We need to defeat this scourge ASAP.