Last year with my mom… (Part 1)
I typed the title and then realized that putting an article at the front is a better reflection of this story. It’s not me recounting something that we did in 2014. It’s about The last year. Or My last year. With my mom. I’m just going to go with it as is.
My mom died on April 21, 2013, a little before midnight, in a running ambulance parked under her favourite maple tree at the side of her home - which for 25 years was an apartment above the store of the campground she owned, operated, sweated, loved, and refused to leave, even though she was pushing 80 (I have to say here that she didn’t really look much more than late 60’s, and had a vibrancy that belied her years, or she will not forgive me). I had been trying for some time to get her to consider retiring and living a life of leisure. Maybe a cruise, where she might meet a man who would dance her around and love her up and make her laugh. But she was a tough nut to crack. I’m not sure if it was because she couldn’t imagine herself not working/doing something for others, or that being joyful for no good reason was a bit too decadent for her Irish Catholic upbringing.
After her husband died of cancer in January 2006, I started trying to talk her into taking an apartment in Kingston, at least over the winter. I thought that once she got used to being back in the city, she might be more likely to consider socializing. She finally agreed in fall 2007, and she had started to get accustomed to it but eventually gave up in early 2010 because she was having anxiety — about life, and living, and dying, and what might come next in general. They say that depression means you are living in the past, and anxiety means that you are living in the future. She was doing a bit of both, and she wanted to be in her home and not alone. That’s when I more or less moved in. I had spent a lot of time at camp since moving from Vancouver in May 1993, but this time it was serious. This time, I brought the cat, so I didn’t have to keep driving the half hour to my place to care for him. But I digress. Hopefully you’ll get used to it.
Not quite a year before she died, she was loaded into a similar ambulance around the same time of the night in the throes of yet another anxiety attack, telling me not to let them take her and that she was certain that she was about to die. She was nearly right. After they left, I came in and sent emails to my brothers and prepared to make the rainy drive to pick her up after her anxiety was once again stabilized. When the hospital number came up on the call display within the hour, I was surprised. It was at least a 45-minute drive and surely she couldn’t be ready to come home so soon? I told myself I should have followed the ambulance instead of dallying because she wouldn’t want to be kept waiting for a ride, and picked up the phone. It was a friend who worked in emerg, asking if Mom had a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order. I was confused — it was just an anxiety attack. No, she said, she had aspirated in the ambulance and was being “bagged”, or manually respirated. She had arrived not breathing. My friend was kind of hoping that I wouldn’t pick up, she said. That I was already on my way. Which I was, I said, and she told me to drive carefully.
It was a very crappy night. I went into my DreamWalker mode — where I communicate with people who are between the worlds, standing on the threshold between here and whatever comes after this. I know that some of those who work with Spirit will say that I should NEVER go into that mode while driving!! And to that I say — you work your Work, I’ll work mine. ❤
Now, my mother had first told me that she was tired of this world and ready to go Home back in 2002 — 10 years before this night. I reached out to her and told her how much I loved her, and that if she really wanted to go I would never hold her back. And then I did what I am not supposed to do when working in those realms — I made it personal. I asked her to stay for a bit. I asked her to stay to say a real goodbye to everyone who loved her so much. I asked her to stay to help me begin to put her affairs in order so that my job as Executrix wouldn’t be quite so messy. Yes, I know that was selfish, but I am a Capricorn and we are as a rule rather practical. Besides — for all I know, this stuff is all just in my imagination, right? How can it hurt to ask?
When I got to the hospital I went right into emerg and headed for the curtain where all the action was. My friend came out with the very kind doctor, who stood in my way and told me he needed me to know that my mother had not been breathing when she arrived. I said “OK” and continued around him. He stepped in front of me again. “There was absolutely no air movement in her lungs, and we don’t know how long she was like that or what damage may have been done.” “Well let’s find out, shall we?” I said, and headed in to get my healing hands on her. I said hello and she made some sort of response that had the nurse noting that she knew me — well of course she did. I’m her Nancy!
I talked to her and asked her to breathe a shade of green deep into her lungs, which is how we usually got through an anxiety attack. My friend on the bag said that the air was going in more easily. They were giving her ketamine to relax her lungs and keep her sedated, and she was still trying to open her eyes, which surprised them. I suspected that she was letting me know that she wanted to stay for a bit. We continued to work — my friend in her field of emergency care, and me in mine of vibrational healing. I was grateful that many years ago, I had attended a Therapeutic Touch workshop that she had organized in our community. It gave us a common place to work from. She asked me if my mother, a nurse herself, would want to be put on a ventilator and live the rest of her life that way — should I perhaps make the tough but kind decision? I knew of course that she wouldn’t want to live on the vent — she had always been very clear about that — but I didn’t see that happening anyway. The hospital did not have a ventilator available, which is why she was being bagged, and the doctor was making arrangements to transfer her to a larger centre. They were calling a nurse from the day shift to ask if he could come early to make the ambulance ride and continue the manual respiration for the hour’s drive. I was not prepared to live with the “what if” of that decision, especially at that stage of the game. I figured if she didn’t want it, she would find a way to leave, and I asked my friend to continue with her much appreciated efforts — it’s not easy to squeeze a plastic bag in and out for several hours to produce enough breaths per minute to sustain a 79-year-old woman! It was breaking dawn when the day nurse and the kind doctor drove off in a different ambulance with my Mom, and I followed along without the benefit of lights and sirens at a much slower speed. I will be forever grateful for what nurses do for our loved ones. I also feel rather certain that if my friend had not been working — someone who knew my mother as a vibrant business woman, and not just the small old non-breathing woman arriving by ambulance — the story would have ended here.
NOTE: I have just realized that this “year” could get a little long, and I have added “Part 1” to the title. I suppose that a writing coach might say that I should end it here and leave you hanging, but I have always hated that kind of trickery. So I will carry on for a wee bit here.
I was scheduled to cover someone’s holidays at the post office that morning, and when I got to the hospital, I called someone from a nearby office to say that I was definitely going to be late! As I sat in the ICU waiting room, a neighbour who worked there came in to tell me that she had seen my mom, that she was ventilated, conscious and communicating, and that she believed she would be fine. Since there was nothing I could do and they wouldn’t let me see her, I left my cel number and drove the hour back north to get to work until more suitable arrangements could be made. Catholic work ethic — making my mother proud.
To be continued…….