This is one of many stories from a wide variety of sources and a multitude of forms contributed by people upon request for my 70th birthday. They will be posted without editing, with the attribution that was with them. I will be posting these regularly until they run out next year sometime: if you have others to add, please send them to me.
The story that I want to share is the experience of being at the hospice where Mom was being cared for.
During Mom’s last week, she was more ‘away’ than present. She was in and out of consciousness but seemingly able to hear even if she couldn’t respond much. Mom passed away on Oct 25, so this story is from Oct 22-24.
The nurses at hospice are incredibly caring and compassionate. In spite of dealing with people at the end of their days and feeling sad about it, they approach their jobs as a calling, a gift they can bestow. They were so kind to my Mom during her stay. On the 22nd or so, when Mom was not able to speak any longer, the nurse came in to administer Mom’s medications. They entered the room, calling her name. Mom put up a very frail arm to reach out and hug the nurse. They leaned into the hug and returned it.
On her last night (Oct 24) – it was about 8:30 pm, as I sat beside her, it was time for her evening care. The nurses came in to change her clothes, reposition her in bed, and wash her. I stepped back to give them space. The nurses called to her by name, they told her what they were doing and what would happen next. They talked to her about the night gown they were putting on her. They treated her, in her last hours as a person, still comprehending albeit less capable – they offered so much dignity – applying skin lotion to her feet so her skin wasn’t so dry.
I asked the nurses, in their experience, how much did they think people could understand at this advanced stage – they said – she continues to respond to us in small ways, so we know she is aware. Mom passed away at 5:00 am on the 25th.
When we arrived the next morning to pick up Mom’s things – we walked the ‘hall of hugs’. The nurses, the cleaning staff, the meal staff all gave us hugs. It is an incredible experience to receive so much compassion from people – just doing their jobs. 😉