I knew your mother, so I met you.
Your mother, when I met her, was plummeting into the depths of a neurological affliction. An affliction slowly taking away the essence of who she is, her ability to talk and her ability to express herself.
Because of your mother I met your dad. Your dad, a devoted figure at your mother’s side. Everyday trying to do the right thing. sometimes, struggling to hold back a tear or two or three. Sometimes leaving the room if your mother’s mood changes because of her disease and she says something hurtful.
You, when I met you, almost always polite, smiling and gracious in difficult situation. Do you get this from your parents, I wonder. I can tell, though when you are having a harder time, your mouth hardens and your skin color pales.
Your mother, day by day, fading. Still though, her face bears a royal countenance, a sort of beauty to be immortalized forever in a statue. Sometimes a smile breaks the stillness of her face, a beautiful smile, a smile to be treasured. A smile to connect her with husband, her children, her grandchildren. A smile not to be forgotten.
Your dad, a representative of both parts of the married couple. Stories to be told. Connections to be had. I, who pride myself on being professional, steely and detached, soften as I get to know your dad.
You. I see much of your dad in you. Always trying to do the right thing. What did you get from your mom, it is harder to know, apart from your clear blue eyes and shape of your cheekbones. Oh and you have your mom’s smile as well.
Your mom. Fading. Withdrawing. Hungry only for the smallest amounts of food.
Your dad. More tears, sometimes hidden. Trying to get your mom to eat bites of most anything. Mashed potatoes, sherbet, foods that take little effort to swallow.
You. Are you aging or just simply weary? You’ve grown a beard which partly masks your beautiful smile. As you stand next to me, talking about your mom, I look up at you, your teeth almost seem like aging tusks emerging from your beard. No matter the physical price this journey seems to take, still though you are devoted.
Your mom, slipping away from the world.
Your dad’s tremendous loss and sorrow.
You, your devotion. Though not your intention, a lesson about family for your children.
The chapter of this book has closed. Tears I did shed for the life of this lovely woman. Memories will be saved of her, and her wonderful family.
I wrote this post in early 2017, after the death of one of my patients. When you are in nursing school, they don’t really prepare you that you are taking care of family members as well as your patients. The family members I wrote about here were incredibly gracious in such a difficult situation. It was an honor and privilege to know them.
Some family members aren’t so gracious. My work family closed a chapter this year with a daughter of one of our patients who was always a challenge. Wild accusations, swearing , insults and even slapping one of the workers who was caring for her mom was part of our time with this particular woman. Thank goodness she was the exception and not the rule.