Out of all of these entries so far, this one has been the most difficult for me to write.
However, in order to proceed chronologically with the days before Mother passed away, I must tell you about my first visit to the Respite House to see her.
After we had arrived at the apartment, Frank was to try and sort through Mother’s computers and begin to organize her paperwork while I went to the Respite House to see mother.
Having been to the Respite House before when Jim was a patient there, I was familiar with the place.
Noah’s Ark was the theme of the Respite House. Each room was named after an animal. It was quite serendipitous that I found her in the room called Ducky. That was her favourite nickname for me.
I was her Ducky.
Further, when Jim had been a patient there, he had resided in the room called Dolphin.
Mother loved dolphins.
Entering the room, I found mother sitting at the edge of her bed.
She gave me the most amazing look of surprise.
After giving her a hug and a kiss, I told her that we had just arrived after leaving home that morning. Then I informed that we were staying at her apartment.
The news of us staying at her apartment seemed to unsettle her a bit.
And I can understand why.
She was no doubt suddenly realizing that she found herself with little control over where she was and why, including the fact that Frank and I were staying in her apartment….
….without her being there.
Never before had she not been able to come and go as she pleased.
At about that same time, a volunteer quietly entered the room and placed a sandwich on mother’s bed tray, and left.
Both of us stared mournfully at the plate containing a toasted sandwich which was to be her dinner.
While I have a great respect for the Respite House and this establishments volunteers, along with the wonderful work they do, I must honestly say that was the saddest sandwich I have ever seen.
With a wary eye, Mother removed the top toasted slice of bread to see what was underneath.
We found a slice of generic turkey lunchmeat atop an obviously expired piece of lettuce.
Returning the slice of bread to the sandwich she waved the plate over to me.
“No thank you,” I told her, “I’m not eating that.”
After pushing back the bed tray I helped mother back into bed. After adjusting her pillows I covered her with a light blanket and raised the top of the bed so she could sit upright.
Then I took a good long look at her.
She began to fuss with her hair and informed me that she had showered earlier in the day.
As we continues to talk I could sense that her mind was beginning to wander.
From time to time would close her eyes and have a brief rest.
It was very strange for me to see my mother in bed, especially during the day. Only once before have I ever seen her in bed during daylight hours, and that was upon getting her wisdom teeth removed. I was only five years old at the time.
Throughout her life, she was always an early riser and out of bed before me.
And so, after waking up from her short nap she began to converse with me. Unfortunately, see seemed confused. What she said was out of context and made no sense.
I attributed this to the extensive regimen of drugs she was on, and perhaps even the cancer.
From time to time I would have to tell her where she was and why.
About an hour and a half into my visit, a team of nurses entered the room and informed me that it was time for her regimen of care. This included changing her gown and getting her ready for the evening.
I decided to take this opportunity to take my leave of Mother. I gave her a hug and a kiss and told her I would be back in the morning.
Being exhausted from the nine hour drive, I found myself hungry and in need of quiet time to download the events of the day.
Mother waved at me as I left the room. The door was closed behind me and I could hear the nurses begin their work.
For dinner, Frank and I decided to go to the Friendly’s restaurant across the street from the apartment. There, we enjoyed a pleasant dinner of fish and chips.
After paying the bill and leaving the restaurant the cell phone began to ring.
After answering the phone a voice on the other end informed me that my Mother wanted to speak to me.
I agreed, and the phone was passed to Mother.
In an angry and frightened tone, I began to hear my Mother repeat to me…
“I can’t do this Doris… I can’t do this.”
Trying to soothe her I told her that I would be back to see her in the morning. Then I asked for her to give the phone back to the attendant.
The attendant then suggested that it might be best if I come and spend the night with her.
I declined knowing that I needed to save my strength and get a good nights rest.
In case of an emergency I informed her that yes, she could call me.
After hanging up the cell phone, Frank and I returned to the apartment for a quiet evening. Being tired, we went to bed early.
It’s painful for me now to look back on that telephone conversation…
Because it was the very last time that I ever heard her say my name.