Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. For Mom

 

UPDATE: They let me in.

UPDATE 2: Mom passed away in the early morning hours. Thank you to everyone for your kindness.

Four weeks ago, I spent one of the best days of my life in Provo, Utah—recording a poem at BYU for later publication, attending a friend’s poetry reading, and visiting my mom in the assisted living facility she moved to only months ago.

Mom is wheelchair-bound and has been struggling with constant physical pain and loneliness since Dad died last year. After some recent panic attacks, her doctors thoroughly evaluated her and determined that she qualified for hospice care and the pain medication she needs to be comfortable. That Saturday when I visited, my family celebrated her 81st birthday. Mom was even well enough to sing in the Sunday church service at her care center. Hospice care could last for months, years even. She was going to be fine.

I haven’t been able to visit over the last several weeks because of the extraordinary measures being taken to protect the residents at the care center; until today they finally let my sister in. Mom is dying; it could be any day now. She is withering away mentally and physically, and all I can think is thank heaven we were able to all visit and get her the help she needed before they locked down. She is struggling so much to live and I wish she could relax and let go.

I don’t know what else to say, but I wanted to tell someone. Here are two poems I wrote for her after one of my last visits.

Retirement Home

She says it isn’t home,
this place where she stays
with walker and wheelchair.
It’s more like a garage,
a place to park and wait,
get maintenance till it’s time to go.

She buys me lunch when I visit
and I slip in payment undetected.
She plans to make a pie,
but has no oven.
She arranges music for church
that no one will sing.

Interminable guest in this living space,
she’d be happy to spin her wheels
if the key would just turn in the ignition.

Enduring

Mom doesn’t know how to die.
She tries to relax, fall into it,
but keeps waking each day.
Her body shuts down around her
without release.

Dad hasn’t come for her yet.
She asks us to pray for death.
Who can take up those sharp words?
We pray instead for peace, healing.

We make her stay.
She endures and endures,
to no end, bitter
or sweet.

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  1. OldPhil Coolidge

    My wife’s Mom is in the same situation. She has dementia and we haven’t been able to see her for over 3 weeks. Yesterday my wife said she doesn’t think she’ll ever see her alive again.

    • #1
    • March 30, 2020, at 9:57 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  2. Stad Thatcher

    Sorry this is happening at such a bad time . . .

    • #2
    • March 30, 2020, at 11:18 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  3. Susan Quinn Contributor

    I’m so sorry, Merrijane.

    • #3
    • March 30, 2020, at 11:44 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  4. TheRightNurse Member

    I’m so sorry, but I’m glad they let you in to see her.

    • #4
    • March 30, 2020, at 1:26 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  5. ShaunaHunt Coolidge

    I am so sorry. You and your family will be in my prayers. You can message me anytime.

    • #5
    • March 30, 2020, at 4:09 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  6. Merrijane Thatcher
    Merrijane

    Thanks everyone. I had a good long sit with her today. The few words she spoke to me were not coherent, but I think my being here helps her feel less agitated. My sister is spending the night. If she’s still with us tomorrow, I’ll be back for another visit. 

    • #6
    • March 30, 2020, at 5:10 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  7. Susan Quinn Contributor

    Merrijane (View Comment):

    Thanks everyone. I had a good long sit with her today. The few words she spoke to me were not coherent, but I think my being here helps her feel less agitated. My sister is spending the night. If she’s still with us tomorrow, I’ll be back for another visit.

    Wonderful! 

    • #7
    • March 30, 2020, at 5:53 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  8. Stad Thatcher

    Merrijane: UPDATE: They let me in.

    I’m glad to hear that.

    • #8
    • March 31, 2020, at 6:06 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  9. Trink Coolidge
    Trink Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    She is so blessed to have your caring and now immortalizing her passage with your poignant poems.

    It brought back memories of Western Chauvinist’s and my mother’s passing. I too found that distilling the pain and longing for her comfort in words – was healing,

    Prayers for peace and comfort.

     

    • #9
    • March 31, 2020, at 6:18 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  10. Front Seat Cat Member

    We went through that with my husband’s mom last year at this same time. She was at home when we called in hospice. They helped ease her and our family in so many ways, pain management, instruction on how to soothe her even though she slept most of the time. My sister in law, a home healthcare nurse lived with her. Someone was by her side at all times. We played classical music, she played piano in her day. Each step through the process was explained to us – the body shutting down one place at a time is like cleaning a room, then closing the door. It was a natural process. It was still a very stressful and sad time. She was 83. I know what you are experiencing, and your mom is being cared for in the right way. God bless her and you and your family.

    • #10
    • March 31, 2020, at 6:27 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  11. 9thDistrictNeighbor Member

    I love Provo. People are so kind there. 

    I am so sorry about your mom. My mother-in-law broke her hip yesterday and is supposed to have surgery today. She lives in Washington, DC and the hospital won’t let my brother-in-law in to the building either. I am sure there are many people in this world who are struggling with the everyday suffering that occurs without the overlay of a pandemic. Praying for you and your family.

    • #11
    • March 31, 2020, at 8:10 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  12. Stad Thatcher

    Merrijane: UPDATE 2: Mom passed away in the early morning hours. Thank you to everyone for your kindness.

    Awww, I’m so sorry to hear that. You got to see her again, though. My thoughts and prayers are with you . . .

    • #12
    • March 31, 2020, at 8:10 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  13. The Dowager Jojo Inactive

    Merrijane, I am sure you were a joy to her.

    • #13
    • March 31, 2020, at 8:20 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  14. GrannyDude Member

    Bless you, Merrijane, and bless your dear Mom. 

    This is such a good line:
    she’d be happy to spin her wheels
    if the key would just turn in the ignition.

    One of the things that has consistently surprised me in my life is how hard it can be to die. I attend so many sudden deaths that snatch a healthy person out of life that death begins to seem like a snap-of-the-fingers change from one state to the other. And then I visit a dying friend in the hospital, gaze upon their attenuated selves enduring insult after insult, blow after blow, day after day, month after month. Even in a perfect storm of immune system collapses, organ failures, anorexic starvation and the earnest desire to be done and gone…I marvel at how tenaciously life will cling to even the smallest bit of flotsam and stubbornly keep its head above the warm, inviting water. 

    • #14
    • March 31, 2020, at 9:07 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  15. Front Seat Cat Member

    No more suffering, and there’s so much suffering right now. Take good care.

    • #15
    • March 31, 2020, at 9:11 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  16. Merrijane Thatcher
    Merrijane

    GrannyDude (View Comment):
    I marvel at how tenaciously life will cling to even the smallest bit of flotsam and stubbornly keep its head above the warm, inviting water. 

    That is such a beautifully expressed truth. 

    • #16
    • March 31, 2020, at 9:42 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  17. Jon Gabriel, Ed. Chief

    All of our love and prayers are headed your way, Merrijane. I’m so sorry for your painful loss.

    • #17
    • March 31, 2020, at 10:14 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  18. John Park Member

    May your mother rest in peace, Merrijane.

    • #18
    • March 31, 2020, at 10:29 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  19. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member

    Merrijane, I am so sorry for your loss, but thankful that you got a chance to see her. God bless.

    • #19
    • March 31, 2020, at 11:30 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  20. Chris Member

    Most sincere condolences.

    • #20
    • March 31, 2020, at 12:24 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  21. Nick H Coolidge

    My condolences, and prayers for your family. 

    The poems are wonderful. Thank you for sharing them with us.

    • #21
    • March 31, 2020, at 12:35 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  22. danys Thatcher
    danys Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    May God bless you, Merrijane, your mother, and your entire family.

    • #22
    • March 31, 2020, at 1:49 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  23. OldPhil Coolidge

    OldPhil (View Comment):

    My wife’s Mom is in the same situation. She has dementia and we haven’t been able to see her for over 3 weeks. Yesterday my wife said she doesn’t think she’ll ever see her alive again.

    My wife was certainly prescient. Her mother also passed away this morning.

    Merrijane, our thoughts are certainly with your family’s, as well as ours.

    • #23
    • March 31, 2020, at 2:30 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  24. Merrijane Thatcher
    Merrijane

    OldPhil (View Comment):
    My wife was certainly prescient. Her mother also passed away this morning.

    I’m so sorry! My sincere condolences to you and your wife. It seems like this quarantine situation is especially wearing on the elderly even when they aren’t sick.

    • #24
    • March 31, 2020, at 3:05 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  25. Doug Watt Moderator

    Condolences Merrijane, may she rest in peace, may you and your family find peace in the days to come.

    • #25
    • March 31, 2020, at 4:39 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  26. Mike Rapkoch Moderator

    Msy the divine assistance be always with you, and may your mother rest in peace.

    • #26
    • March 31, 2020, at 4:44 PM PDT
    • 2 likes