Wednesday, June 4, 2008

When Life Is No Longer A Joy

While Mom passed away some time ago, I recall her 93rd birthday. Once or twice before reaching that milestone she seemed to finally be getting ready to leave us but, each time, she did what her nurses call one of Millie’s 180’s and again postponed her inevitable date with death.

I don’t mean to sound so casual about it but, truthfully, her quality of life had declined so much that I couldn’t see what joy she experienced from getting through her days. I don’t think I would want to live like her if I were at that stage—but who really knows what, if anything goes on in the head of a late stage dementia patient?

Mom had been receiving hospice services for over a year, the hospice having accepted her into its program after deciding she had but a short time left to live. The thing is though—no one asked Millie (Minnie in the book), and she went on and on in spite of expectations. Maybe this was good news. I like to think so, although I did have doubts whenever I visited her. It broke my heart when I recalled the vital, dynamic bundle of energy she used to be.

At 93, she was total care, never leaving her wheelchair, prefering to sleep in her bed most of the day,not participating in most of the recreational activities at the home, rarely speaking and when she did it was usually a one word response to a question. She'd lost a lot of weight for several months as her appetite lagged, but gained it back quickly when her diet was changed to thick liquids. Seems she couldn’t swallow whole foods any longer.

Her eyes would close as she drifted off into sleep moments after a visitor greeted her. And yet...and yet...she still lit up when she saw me (for a few moments at least). So again...who really knows?

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