A Tender Tale of Love and Compassion for a Mind Lost - Part 2

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic
My words are emotionally laden. Love, understanding and compassion were never challenged in such a way before, at least not in my wildest of dreams. I think one never truly understands the dynamics of such an event until it actually happens to someone you care for. It was a demoralizing and dehumanizing time for the entire family as well as for I.

Submitted: August 06, 2010

A A A | A A A

Submitted: August 06, 2010



Then she disturbingly asked, “Who are you?"

Suddenly our tears became noisier as they now authoritatively splattered onto the floor, attempting to rinse away our emotional attachment from her. Her words unknowingly ripped out our hearts as she seemingly and violently slammed them to the floor, stomping on them until there was nothing left.

A few of my sisters turned to leave to stand in the hallway outside her room. Uncontrollable sobbing was heard. The situation was understandably difficult to deal with.

But after the moment was swallowed where it remained in our collective throats, everyone introduced himself or herself one at a time, along with I’m very happy to meet you introductions. She replied in kind saying she was happy to meet all of us as well. And after the introductions were complete a new friendship was born from out of the past, a past no longer we owned.

Although my siblings and I greatly feared it, our hope for instant recognition from her held on to every last thread of our connections to her. Eventually all of us came to understand that those past connections were of lesser importance than her present heath and mental condition. We loved her dearly and we eagerly embraced however she turned out to be. Her survival in whatever shape or form was never so paramount than the present.

The proceeding days produced many emotional moments, now that we were forced to view her in a condition of obscurity. In knowing who she was and with us possessing loving feelings for her, it was tough to handle when we ourselves weren’t recognized. We repeatedly had to introduce ourselves. Her diagnosis of irreversible brain damage began to seep more into our daily conscious as time moved forward, permitting a necessary reality to be born in each of us.

When the doctor informed us that it was imperative that she have as many relatives around her as often as possible, especially in the next couple of weeks, Kathleen, Barbara, Myra and myself were there every day to try and communicate with her, to try and make her recall her past. Her remaining brain cells needed to be stimulated. We were totally consumed with thoughts about her welfare and the unbelievable reality that she will never be the same.

The four of us became a quartet of what I like to refer as common sense interns with no medical experience. We were the real deal behind our mother’s eventual partial recovery, giving her the kind of love and attention she needed to improve. As time went by the more our ability to successfully communicate with her on many personal levels was nurtured. And as our relationship progressed, we adjusted our emotions and thoughts in alignment with her progress to allow her to be whomever she could.

My sisters and I were constantly bringing up the past. And working with her was a challenge at times. She now possessed a child-like quality that was totally innocent. We were always attempting to speak to her in a way that she would understand, sometimes as if she was no more than seven or eight years old. When she actually began to remember parts of her past, it was like this marvelous gift from Heaven rewarding us for our efforts.

We questioned her about her husband, our father, if she remembered him at all.

She would say, “Ooh, he was a good looking man!" as a happy glow embraced her face. One could tell that a warm feeling for him still remained by the way her eyes sparkled at the very mention of him.

We questioned if she remembered specific episodes we had as children, or people that we knew she was aware of, or places where we lived. We sometimes connected with her, giving us hope. But in the beginning, failure happened more often than not.

Reconstructing her memory was a responsibility we employed every second spent with her. Parts of her former self would sometimes break free, allowing us to be thankful in every sense to our Lord Jesus.

When she began to eventually recognize us on a regular basis, as soon as we would walk into her room it was impossible not to have a broad smile on our faces. She even developed a sense of humor often laughing to the numerous jokes I would tell her. This implied to me that she had the ability to follow and understand what I was saying in order to get the punch line. She was really turning out to be amazing.

My three sisters and I began a rotation of visiting her after the first two months of her recovery taking turns on different nights of the week. The strain of the four of us being there every day began to be a bit too much for all of us to sustain. We would still have at least one family member by her side every single day so she would never feel alone or abandoned.

In the evenings after work when I would come, sometimes she would be asleep. I would remain by her bedside so if she should happen to awaken, she would then see a familiar face. I cherished my responsibility to her.

The more she would recall her past, the more magical those visitations became and the more I felt blessed. I knew her complete recovery was never a possibility, but those times when she would remember something for the first time it seemed a miracle took place beneath my very nose. I thanked the Lord numerous times during our one-on-one get-togethers.

However, sometimes those visitations weren’t so wonderful with the negative conditions that existed in the nursing facility. Too often the place was severely understaffed. Debilitating folks were left in their beds after they were soiled upon. The smell of human waste and urine filled the air in the hallways more times than not. Many times I had to simmer my anger to avoid erupting into heated exchanges with the nurses and aides on duty at the time.

I’ll never forget the time when I came to see her one night and discovered her covered from head to toe in her own excrement. My better judgment erupted as I began cursing at anyone dressed in a white uniform.

After a minute I returned to her room grabbing all the bath towels along with a bar of soap from the bathroom to clean her. And when an aide finally arrived in ten minutes I demanded my mother be scrubbed from head to toe with a disinfectant to kill all that bacteria on her skin. I stood nearby to ensure that happened. I still get upset thinking about it and it’s been over seven years.

She despised her life there. Several times she pleaded with me to take her away. She even said once that she would be happy to live with me, which made me feel atrocious because I couldn’t afford the amenities that would have been required to sustain any kind of a life for her. The cost of fixing up a room with all the medical equipment necessary, plus to have a nurse live there around the clock, or to even visit her on a regular basis, would’ve been impossible for me to afford. Again, I cursed my lack of wealth. All my siblings wished we could have had the means to do more.

Many times when I would be with her, either in her room or sitting next to her in the lobby, she would gingerly lean over toward me to speak just above a whisper and beg me to take her away. I think she was trying to be sneaky, like she was planning a secret escape of some kind. She would get real close and barely be heard, causing me to lean in more toward her just to hear her speak. She would give me this ornery expression where it was just her and I that only knew of her plot to get away from her tormentors (nurses and aides). I would have enjoyed nothing more than to take hold of that wheelchair and roll her out through the front doors with the intent of never coming back. But, sadly, I couldn’t afford such an act of mercy.

She would say, “Rob, let’s go. Take me out of here. I don’t belong in this zoo with the rest of these weirdoes. What do you say?" Her crackling voice was full of sincere desperation. She would look at me with those big pleading eyes, begging me. Her entire face would light up with hopes of me fulfilling her wish. She sounded as innocent as a child. The woman made my heart melt and I wanted to cry whenever she would talk to me in that manner. My conscious was never at rest.

The next several months my mother’s health declined greatly. At some point she began losing interest in living, so it certainly seemed. I think the combination of her mind mostly not there and living in a nursing home eventually began to strip her of the will to continue the struggle. A feeding tube was even inserted to give us hope in improving her life. But it didn’t help.

It came to the point where we were forced to realize and accept that any recovery of her mental welfare has dwindled down to zero. Near the end all communication with her had stopped. Why prolong the inevitable when it was obvious to everyone that the time had come to end her suffering.

So Hospice was called to ease her eventual departure.

And when that dreadful day came, that dear woman from Hospice informed us that we had enough time to grab a quick bite before our mother would take a last turn for the worse. We had been with our mother all morning and none of us had eaten. So, we went to grab a sandwich while this wonderful woman sat with her.

Kathleen, Myra, Pam and I returned to the nursing home about an hour later. And as we remained in the car, Kathleen announced that since she knew that the State would claim any money my mother had left in her account at the facility, which she did, and that they ought to use that money to purchase a dress for her to wear at her funeral. So off they hurriedly went.

I remained behind at the nursing home to sit with our mother since her time to join her Lord was so near. I felt strongly that she should have a family member there to help ease her transition into another world.

So, when I returned to my mother’s room Hospice informed me that my mother had taken a sudden turn for the worse and that her time to leave was extremely near. Instinctively I rushed at her side.

After looking at her I could see that she was in great discomfort. I instantly grabbed her hands that were clasped together in front of her and held onto them very tightly. I leaned over near her ear so she could hopefully hear me. I didn’t know for sure if she was mentally aware of things but I gave her the benefit of a doubt that she was.

I told her, “It’s all right, Mom. Jesus is on the other side to greet you. He’s there in his kingdom waiting for you." I further said, “Your father and mother are also their waiting for you, along with Fred." Fred was her brother. I kept repeating these things over and over.

“It’s okay Mom, its okay. God loves you. It’s okay to leave this world and enter Heaven. Jesus is waiting. I love you and your family loves you. Everything is going to be all right."

I could see she began having some difficulty in breathing as her chest suddenly started heaving up and down more rapidly. She was soon grasping for every breath she took. I could see the strain on her face as she struggled to remain alive. My heart ached as I stared into her face. I tried to remain strong as I held on to her as tightly as I could.

All of a sudden she sat up and began rocking back and forth. And just as fast I noticed she stopped breathing. All the while I kept softly whispering in her ear, “It’s okay to go Mom. It’s okay."

For a good thirty seconds she determinedly held on to that breath until she could no longer. Then a final blast of breath bolted past her lips. And in feeling so afraid along with her, I could only watch as her last exhale dwindled down to nothing.

This magnificent person no longer possessed the wonder of life and it was all I could do just to gaze upon that magnificent face. The woman that brought me into this world has now gone on to bigger and better things.

As her eyes blindly returned my stare I very gently laid her head upon her pillow. I was interrupted for a moment when a nurse took her wrist to check for a pulse. As I looked up at the nurse as she held my mother’s wrist aloft, she shook her head back and forth implying the obvious. Then she slowly reached over me toward my mother to softly caress her eyelids to close them. The moment is so entrenched within me that I can never forget.

Again, one must do what one must.

When Hospice and the nurse left the room so I could have a final moment with her, I softly spoke to her saying “You’re in Heaven now, Mom. You made it."

I caressed her pale cheeks, which have always felt like satin. No longer apparent was the distorted expression that she wore since her nightmare began. I was so grateful that she would suffer no more.

Then I stood and wiped the tears from my eyes to give her a long last look before leaving the room to stand outside to wait for the others to return. God rest her soul, I knew that she is once again whole and complete.The End

© Copyright 2020 Berto. All rights reserved.

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