"The Jingle Bell Bum" (Read The Touching True Story...please!) Comment at patriciahanrion.com

"The Jingle Bell Bum" (Read The Touching True Story...please!) Comment at patriciahanrion.com
Still available on Amazon for Nook and Kindle, hard copy booklett to re-print November 2013

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Helen Left the Building!

I Think we all feel guilty when our parents pass away; for what we did; or did not do.

When the Doctor recommended Helen to be put into hospice I decided to get permission to leave my missionary area to make a visit. I could leave our assignment for an emergency but wondered if it was really necessary to travel to California. I had been there the previous month and Helen was eating well and was her usual complaining self. I hesitated to ask for the leave. as I  remember my friend Dee's mom was put on Hospice and she survived for three years. Tim my brother said, "Help mother manage her money. She's not going anywhere until she's 105.

I began to wonder if this was going to mark the end, or would my mom cling to all that she knew and reach my brother's prophecy. Mother was stubborn and a tough woman in many ways. I did not really believe this would be the end. I  thought that she would hang-on for a long time. But I drove to California anyway.


This time my visits with her were good. Not like some of the contentious ones previously where she was angry because she didn't bring her sewing-machine. This time, over a period of three days, I had 7 or 8 excellent short visits. I learned to be brief. I knew that for the first ten minutes she would make sense. Then she would get angry and start yelling, or talk about crazy things, or be paranoid or drift off asleep in the middle of a word. It was also best to keep the visits short so I could go to the hotel and gird my loins for the next salvo of conversation bombs.


In between talking to my mother I spent time reading and signing all the papers to set her up in hospice. I was hoping this would help pay for some of her medications...even diapers, so that her little pot of gold would last till she was the designated 105 yrs.


I understood her paranoia to some extent. Things had disappeared! Her flip phone was gone within a week. AND she wore it in a case around her neck.  This loss made me particularly sad because I knew she felt isolated. But on the other hand she had led an isolated life...maybe it was more sad for me because I couldn't call and find out how she was doing. I had to wait for one of her caregivers to be kind enough to call me on their phone. 


The few pieces of jewelry I didn't sell I left with her at the care facility. I wanted her to enjoy her things but on several visits she told me to take rings and watches home. "I know they must come in when I'm sleeping and take my few nice things." I left some pieces of costume jewelry and these disappeared. She wore a silver charm necklace that Timothy bought for her on one of their cruises. She never took it off and clung to it desperately. On this last visit she was not wearing the necklace. I didn't ask her where it was but looked through all her boxes and night table. I couldn't find it. 


When I left on the last day, I kissed  her and reminded her that this was her early birthday visit. "Mom, I'll come back in late October." We hugged. She felt so thin. While driving away, my thoughts said, "This is the last time you will see your mom." I pushed the thought down and away. "No, she will live to 105, like my brother said."


The Hospice nurse called me every week, sometimes twice a week to tell me all they were doing for my mom. The thing they stressed was that they were managing her pain. This made me so happy. Since I can remember my mom, Helen, has complained of pain. She was allergic to aspirin and many other pain medications. As she grew older her childhood Scoliosis and Osteoporosis and Kyphosis (dowagers' hump) ruled her life. The last 6 or 7 years she sat sideways. Timothy would say, "Mom, sit up straight."



Patrick, Rebecca, Megan, Mike, Grandma Helen Pat the Mom, Pat the Dad...colleen is missing...

I think the last time we all had a get-together was in 2014. She was a good sport and we loved teasing her.

Two weeks after I met with the hospice nurse and had all the paperwork in place I got a call around 4 in the afternoon. The nurse who did the initial evaluation said "Your Mom is failing, you may want to come see her. "Should I leave right away, I'm in Tucson?" I asked. "No, don't drive all night, you'll be fine. Start out in the morning" he suggested."  "Okay, I'll be there by noon." 

Another call came at 6:00 am. I was already three hours from Santa Clarita as I had left the house at 2:30 am. "Are you on the road?" Doty the nurse asked. "Yes, I'm more than half way there." "Good," he said, I think this may be Miss Helen's time." "I'll be there soon,"

 At 7:00 am, my daughter Colleen called. "Mom she's gone."  "Are you there with her? I asked. "I didn't know you were in California."  "I'm here visiting my boyfriend and had the funny feeling I needed to visit grandma.  When I came in the room I said "Hi Grandma." The nurse at the bedside said after she heard my voice she took her last breath.

In two hours I was at the bedside. I saw my mom looking thin and pasty, and obviously dead. I kissed her on the cheek. They had called the mortician at Glen Haven Cemetery. They came with a green gurney, picked her up and whisked her down the hall. "Bye Mom. Say Hi to Dad." 

to be continued...

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