Friday, April 13, 2007

Golf and oxygen tanks


My mother is dying. Her health has been steadily declining for years, but over the past few months that decline has accelerated. She has COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder [i.e., emphysema, in her case]), congestive heart failure, and partial kidney failure. It is unlikely that she will live much more than a few more weeks at most.


The prospect of my mother’s death has been dominating my thoughts for several weeks now. The actual tasks of helping her have consumed much of time over that same period. Fortunately, my wife, one of my sisters, my mother’s friends, and the staff of the place where my mother lives have all been very generous with their time. It is comforting to know that my mother is getting a lot of company and assistance. I wish I could do more for her, but I am doing as much as she wants me to do.


She understands what is happening to her, and she insists that she is not afraid to die. Nevertheless, she experiences a great deal of anxiety. She does not like to be alone anymore, so despite the fact that she lives in an assisted living facility, we have a private home health aide spend each night with her. So she is never alone for very long, as there are people with her for most of each day.


We had a scare on Wednesday. She was incoherent and unable to express complete thoughts for several hours. The doctor who examined her told me that she wouldn’t live for more than another few days. My wife and I spent the afternoon with her, and surprisingly, she rebounded in the early evening and she was able to think straight and speak normally again. So she might have a few more weeks ahead of her, or she could have a recurrence of this disorientation again tomorrow. We don’t know what will happen and the medical professionals who work with her don’t know either. Whatever else happens, she will succumb to her respiratory and heart diseases soon.


Until she is gone, I will be spending as much time with her as I can. My employers are understanding about this, which is great. On this past Saturday and Sunday, my wife and I watched the Masters golf tournament with her. She became a golf fan late in life, so she was very interested in the tournament. It was not a typical way to pass the time for myself or for my wife, but I am glad we could be with her to watch golf.


We take one day at a time. It is a cliché, but it is what we do.

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