Yesterday was Mother's day. You all know that. The MLB was sporting pink bats, pink magnetic necklaces and pink arm covers. I was planning a day judging SJ at Fair Hill and then a quick call to my mom, hoping that she would be able to speak to me. My mom has been declining for the past 3 years, both physically and cognitively. It is tough to watch as my memories of my mom are all of a super strong, positive, independent to a fault woman.
We were never really close, but we had our moments. A mutual love of a good brunch, her trying to teach me about flowers, joking about my brother, sharing stories about my nieces and nephews (her grandkids). And, I have never for a second doubted that she loves me and is proud of me and of my brother. She is one of those women who has done so much and achieved at work and in her personal life (she spent the year after she retired working tirelessly on the John Kerry presidential campaign), but whose center was always her family. No matter how far her cognition has eroded, she remembers me, my brother, our families and Scooter (the dachshund). Family is always family for her. She kept pictures of my ex-husband's kids on her refrigerator beside those of her grandkids. She and my dad have been divorced since 1986, but she was still at all the family events on his side of the family and as long as she was able, continued to be in touch with him and concerned about his life and health.
So, yesterday my brother called and she is in the hospital with pneumonia and it is not looking good. Can they get her through this, probably, but in many discussions over the years, my mom made it very clear that when it is time, it is time and she wants no heroic measures. My brother and I are in easy agreement on this (thank all the powers for a sibling in accord during these difficult times), so we will enroll my mom in hospice and I will fly to California in a few days and we will spend what is likely to be some final time as a family. I feel guilty to feel relief as well as sadness, but I know we are making the right decision. My enrolling her in hospice, she will spend her final time at home with the family. I cannot be so eloquent, but I want to thank my colleague for this article that really spoke to how hard this can be even when we know it is what our parent wants: http://jama.ama-assn.org/content/304/22/2452.full