have been so happy ever since I received your letter. Darling, it was such a
wonderful letter. I’ve read it at least fifteen times. It seems as if there
could never be two people happier than we are together.
You’re the brave one in our family. What you say goes. I’m praying for your
safety and world peace. These two things are essential to our complete
happiness. My hopes and prayers are constant. Your safety means everything to
me. Darling, may God bless you and keep us for each other.
everyday I love you more. This being apart is terrible. No matter how much we
love each other, there would certainly be a lot of consolation in knowing we
could spend at least a small amount of time together. Somehow when a girl finds
the man whom she knows for certain she could spend the rest of her life with;
she naturally wants to be with him––but if she’s worth anything she will wait
proudly until the time is right. Now I’m saying to myself, “Sister, don’t dream
yet. The time isn’t quite right, but there’ll come a day. Your dreams can
Ed, will trying to be the best wife any
man ever had, and loving you forever, help to make you realize how much I
appreciate everything you do?
If you are sent out and we don’t get
mail as rapidly, it will be consolation knowing we have written often until
then. We are destined to be together, safe, and happy soon. I’m sure.
God bless you,
darling. I love you.
Annette had plans to
come again on March 5th
, but I received a phone call mid-morning at
school on Monday, March 1st
from one of Mom’s favorite nurses,
calling me to say she thought Mom had between 24 and 48 hours to live. My
students were in music class, and I was talking through my lesson plans for the
week with a student teacher.
I called Annette immediately. She worked quickly to obtain a flight home that night.
I ran to the office to tell my
principal I must leave. My student teacher knew what needed to be done. My
lesson plans were on my desk. As I hurried out the building I smiled––as though
everything was normal––to friends and coworkers who were having a typical day,
masking the knowledge that mine would not be typical. I was acutely aware that
today was pivotal.
While I drove, I
called Tim and filled him in on details, telling him Annette was trying to book a
flight for that night and asking if he could pick her up at the airport. As I
drove, I played a CD my sister had given me just a couple of short weekends
before––Susan Boyle’s first CD. On it were two of Mom’s favorite hymns, “How
Great Thou Art,” and “Amazing Grace.” Susan Boyle bolstered me and kept me calm
while I drove.
I felt alone and
uneasy as I contemplated going into this situation. I’d never seen anyone die.
Whom do you ask to be with you as your mother is dying? My husband was at work
and would pick up my sister from the airport when she arrived. My daughter was
at home with a two-year-old. I had to “chin up” and go into this alone. I
prayed for God to go with me––to ease my mother’s transition out of her earthly
life and into life beyond.
When I arrived
around 11:00 a.m., I went into Mom and Dad’s room. Dad acted as if it was an
ordinary day––he must have thought Mom was napping. He had no way of
understanding she was dying. I approached Mom’s bed. She lay unconscious, in a
fetal position. I sat on the edge of the bed and greeted her by saying, “The
angels are calling you, Mom. Do you hear them?”
As I removed my
coat and settled into a chair by the bed, I thought about the many times Mom
had sat by my bedside when I was young. I knew I’d never see her open her eyes
again or hear even an attempt at words. I understood Mom’s
death was absolutely logical––it was time. She’d lived a life of eighty-nine
years, rich with love.
afternoon and evening, I sat on her bed, held her hand, stroked her skin, and
sang “Amazing Grace,” “How Great Thou Art,” and “I Come to the Garden
I opened the family Bible,
which laid on the end table, and read the 23rd
Psalm. When I came to
the verse, “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,” I knew
Mom was making her way through that valley as she lay before me. She’d
continue until she came out the other side with her last breath. Perhaps Mom
and Dad’s entire journey through Alzheimer’s disease had been a journey through
the valley of the shadow of death that had just become darker and darker.
I stroked Mom’s
shoulders, face, and arms. I smoothed her hair, and massaged her hands––curled
up in fists like a baby’s. I talked to her. I prayed aloud for her. Dad and I
prayed some together, but he was confused by everything that was happening. The
aides tried to keep him in his routine of meals and activities so he’d be out
of the room during these hours.
It was another
three to four hours until Tim brought Annette at around 10:00 p.m. She and I spent
a couple of hours together by Mom’s bedside. We talked some with Dad about Mom
getting ready to go to heaven. Dad participated in the conversation, but we
weren’t sure he could absorb what was happening. We encouraged him to go to bed
and rest. He got into his bed, next to Mom, and slept soundly.
As Annette and I took
turns sleeping in the chair that night, Mom and Dad slept together in the same
room for the last time.
By morning, Mom’s
condition was somewhat more deteriorated. She was moved to the Hospice
wing of The Lodge––away from Dad, so he could rest without having to witness
what would soon happen.
We didn’t know how
he’d react to Mom’s move. Staff rolled Mom’s bed down the two hallways, and the
three of us followed––seeing her gently settled in. We surrounded her bed,
talking to her, and Annette and I offered Dad one of the comfortable chairs in the
room––but Dad said he needed to go back to his own room.
Annette walked him
back to the locked unit. I stayed with Mom. She’d become very agitated––shaking
uncontrollably. The nurses had to sedate her repeatedly, saying they’d rarely
had administer such heavy doses to calm a patient.
I believe Mom
sensed she was being moved away from Dad and had words with God, telling Him,
in no uncertain terms, she wasn’t ready to leave the man she’d loved for nearly