Monday, November 18, 2013
For the last decade or so, every two weeks early Sunday morning, I would sit at my desk and write letters, first to my parents and then, once my father died, only to my mother. We live a day's travel away. I tried to be newsy and honest and open and, when I thought I could be and had to be, determined about what I believed. We didn't always agree about things; no man or woman is his parent's clone.
Writing those letters wasn't a burden really; but there were times, lots of them, when, come Sunday morning, I opened a new Word file, typed in "Dear Mom," and wondered whether I'd have anything to say. Dozens of those letters, I'm sure, start with "Not much news," then proceed to run on and on for a couple of pages regardless.
The ritual has fallen off lately. In the last months, my mother's ability to read a letter and stay with the contents has fallen off considerably. I'm not sure she was even all that conscious of receiving them. My sister, who's been her devoted caregiver for years, says one of the last ones--which included a number of big pictures of our new house--was, to her, brand new every time she saw it. "Is that their house now?" she'd ask my sister as if it weren't to be believed. Her mind, I guess, was on something akin to a four or five-minute loop.
So the last letter I wrote was going to be full of pictures again because I thought she'd like more, not of the house but of her Iowa family--especially her great-grandchildren.
Here they sit on the bottom shelf of a table in front of my desk. They never got sent. She'd not appreciate them anymore, not because she wouldn't want to but because she can't.
My mother is dying. In a week or so, on Thanksgiving, should she make it that long, she'd be 95 years old. She's had a good life, not without its problems and it's sorrows, but she's not buried any children and she's raised kids who've never wandered all that far from what she considers "the paths of righteousness." But after a shocking diagnosis last Friday, she's now in hospice care. When she leaves is just a matter of time.
Sometimes it's hard to believe that there are people who actually read the words I type in a box marked "new post," but I know there is. I just thought I'd let you all know that if the stream of blog posts wanes for a time now--as it will--they're falling off because my mother is dying.
The doctor said the surgery would likely be more than she could handle at her age, and she consented with the plan--no surgery, no more treatments, just drugs to ward off the pain before the end. There were times in my mother's life that she seemed to want to be so close to God that there wasn't room for anyone else. She's more than ready to live with the Lord and greet, once again, her devoted husband. There's just this thing called death.
We're off today to travel that day-away because, quite simply, we have to. I don't look forward to seeing her suffer; I've watched two parents, a father and a mother-in-law, stagger down the only road in life no one can walk with you. Those images will always be there, and I'm guessing they will be replenished by a new portfolio.
But we're going to see her--got to. And we're going right now. Just thought I'd let you know.
And this is, most simply, my morning thanks--that when she goes, she will die in the arms of her Lord.
Posted by J. C. Schaap at 5:57 AM