Saturday, April 24, 2004

Mother's condition had been deteriorating for a while. Tuesday morning I dropped by the nursing home. She was sitting up front where she usually is. Instead of her usual surprised comment "What are you doing here?" I got nothing.

Mostly she said nothing but when she did speak I could not understand her because her voice was so low. She was feeling so bad that I could tell she really didn't care if I was there so I left but I was troubled.

That afternoon Julia called from the nursing home saying Mother was in distress. She was having stomach pains. We sat with her all afternoon, consulting with the nurse, trying to decide what to do. Julia wanted to request that she be sent to the hospital but when the pain finally subsided around supper time, she relented and we went home.

The nursing home called Wednesday morning saying Mother was in distress again. Julia and I went out there. She was in pain again. The lab called with critical results from her last lab work. Dr. Brooks ordered her to go by ambulance to the hospital.

We waited two hours for the ambulance. The ambulance service says that the insurance approval never came through. Now Tenncare and the ambulance service are accusing each other of the blame for this mix up.

Julia and I gave up and drove Mother to the hospital.

I will go to horrible, horrible Thursday. Mother's kidneys had shut down. From the time she entered the hospital on Wednesday till we left Thursday night, nothing entered the catheter bag. She was in excruciating pain. If Mother complains of pain, she is really in pain. They did not want to give her much pain medication because it would relax the kidneys and lessen the chances of them starting working.

I am trying to throw that day out of my mind. MOther, lying there dying, and in such pain.

Friday morning around 7:30 I called her room. Julia was there and reported that Mother was sleeping peacefully. I asked about the urine output. She said she had not looked. We really had no hope but I asked her to look. She came back to the phone amazed, there was urine, not just in the tubing, but in the bag itself. Her kidneys were working some.

When I got there about 8:30, Mother was awake and in no pain. She was also alert, so different from the day before.

They did take her to dialysis Friday and she tolerated it well.

On Thursday I had called Anne and Beth telling them they needed to come. I picked Beth up in Tupelo Friday and when she saw Mother she said Mother was better than the last time she had seen her.

Anne was coming Friday but now is coming Sunday.

We are not out of the woods on this yet, but we have hope now whereas on Thursday Mother's death seemed the only possible outcome.

Thursday, April 15, 2004


Tuesday morning after I woke up I went over to the TV and picked up a glass to take to the kitchen. This is by the two windows there in the corner.

The light coming through was very bright. I thought to myself that it looked like snow outside. But that could not be true. It is the middle of April.

Nevertheless I poked my fingers through the blinds, lifted, and saw snow. When I went to the living room, I could see out the big window that the ground was covered with snow and snow was still falling. Falling in big wet clumps. The temperature was in the middle thirties.

The forecasters had not predicted this but, sure enough, there it was, the latest snowfall ever. Later the meteorologists said if the ground had been frozen we would have had twelve inches!

By late afternoon the snow was gone but Wednesday afternoon when I went to Lexington to pick up my tax returns I saw snow on the north slopes of ditches.

I am left with a reminder of the snow when I look in my yard and see how the weight of the wet snow crushed the foliage of the daffidils, flat on the ground.

Monday, April 12, 2004

If I had ever visited a nursing home before Mother entered one, then I don't remember it. Now it is a big part of my life. Visiting gives me a lot of satisfaction and a little bit of frustration.

I usually visit only four times a week, but the Easter parade was Friday and I did not want to miss that.

But I was late. When I got there, they had just started the parade. As I walked down the row of wheelchairs searching for Mother, I saw the smiling faces of the old women and realized I loved them.

This was a revelation to me. It has always struck me as unfortunate how we love helpless babies but not helpless old people. I myself felt that way.

But now that I know these women, I feel differently. They are a lot of trouble. They never remember me or the way to their room. They don't know where they are, what is happening, or who most people are.

But most of them are pleasant and grateful and loving. For example, one day last week one of the women asked for a cup of coffee. After getting it, she decided to go to her room to drink it. I knew that coffee would never make it so I carried the cup for her. When I had gotten her to her room and settled her in her chair, she thanked me and gave me a hug. Who would not respond to that.

I found Mother toward the back of the line. Peggy, an old basketball-playing friend of my sister June, was pushing her. She let me push Mother and went to help someone else.

For the parade, the women wear brightly colored hats with flowers on the brim. Staff, family, and volunteers push them around the home and loop around outside while Irving Berlin's Easter Parade plays on the loud speakers. I myself wore a turqoise shirt and Mother's turquoise First Sunday in May hat.

Those who can't participate sit in their doorways or watch from their beds. We wave at them and they wave at us as we go by. It's really fun.

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