For me, it is the anticipation of an event that causes excitement, apprehension, or foreboding. The planning of a vacation. Waiting for a special day. Saying good bye..
It is not always a bad thing to know that your loved one is dying. I think of a friend whose mother died unexpectedly right after an argument. We have been given this special time to mend relationships, to end things on a good note..
Friday night we took Angel to say good bye to her grandma before leaving for college. Friday my son Alex came down with strep, the second in our household. I didn’t want Angel to leave without saying good bye to her grandma. I admit I was worried that although Paul, Angel, and I weren’t symptomatic that we could be carriers of strep into a nursing home full of vulnerable people. It wasn’t a good feeling. I asked the nurse and pharmacist, but they didn’t give me a straight answer. We decided to go anyway, since this would probably be Angel’s final visit with her grandma.
We arrived at the nursing home late on Friday night. It was a big complex and we didn’t know where to go. The outside doors were locked and we ended up walking around outside in the bitter cold on icy sidewalks trying to find a way in. I felt exhausted and cold. I was so tired that I didn’t want to be there, but it wasn’t about me.
We were finally able to find the main entrance. It was warm, empty, and inviting. There was a video showing a happy elderly couple entering their new home. It pleasantly reminded me of a time share commercial. We were the only visitors there on a Friday night, with the exception of my mother-in-law’s husband Darryl.
It was quiet there. The employees talked about when they were going to take their cigarette breaks. Curious elderly people wandered over to Martha’s room to see the excitement of visitors on a Friday night.
Martha was in her bed hooked up to oxygen. She looked good. Darryl said that his mother was in the nursing home now because she can no longer take care of herself. The conversation got too close to the truth of Martha’s situation. We talked of funerals that we attended together of other family members and Darryl’s moms declining health.
Martha wondered why she was in the nursing home like her husband’s mother. She told us that she was going home soon. She said that they were going to start her on Chemo all over again. She was so convinced of this that I almost believed her. I wanted to.
Martha told us how great Darryl has been to her all of these years. She said that her only regret was that she didn’t meet Darryl sooner. She wished she could have given Paul a father when he was a child. Martha held Darryl’s hand and told him how much she loved and appreciated having him in her life.
When it was time to go, Angel sang a prayer. It was very peaceful and calming. There weren’t any tears or sad good byes like I was expecting.
Our visit ended on a good note..