Yesterday morning, January 30th, 2013, my mother went home.
I had just been to visit her the evening before, for our usual visit on Tuesday night. She was groggy most of the time, but woke up a little, said a few things to me, and wanted me to take her out into the hall so we could talk without the distraction of the television. We sat in the lobby, holding hands, and I sang Amazing Grace and a chorus of 10,000 Reasons. She was very alert during the hymn, and we had a nice visit after that, but then she got sleepy again. I had forgotten to bring the book I've been reading to her, and promised to bring it next time. She ate a Hershey's Drop.
The next morning, I had just come downstairs when the phone rang. We screen the landline, especially on school days, but I could hear that it was Teri, the day nurse. She asked that I call back as soon as possible, and said she'd try my cell phone. I tend to answer my cell, so I picked it up right away. She said that Eleanor passed away at breakfast this morning. I squawked the most inane "What?!?!" just like Mom would have. Teri said that Mom had seemed all right when they woke her, so they dressed her and brought her into the dining room. She looked around the room, and then she just died.
I called Gary, Joan, and Tim, got dressed, and by the time Gary got home was ready to go over to the home. Joan called Chris. Erwin had been called by the chaplain there, and the social worker had called North, so Sandy had already announced on the Extraordinary Believers prayer chain. That made me kind of mad, because by the time I got home again there were numerous messages on the machine.
Hans happened to be home because he was sick. He didn't think he should go, being sick. Grace didn't want to go see a body. I sent a text to Libby because she wasn't answering her phone, and when she got it she called and Gary went to go get her. He brought her back to the nursing home because that's what she wanted. Joan came, and then Joe also came in. The nursing staff who cared for her came in and we had a time of prayer. Then after the staff went out, and Joe left, and it was just me and Gary and Libby and Joan and Erwin, we told stories about Mom. Erwin asked questions, which helped us know what to tell, and Joan has told me several times how much that helped her.
The social worker, Joani, called for an ambulance service to take her to the College of Mortuary Science, which was where her body was going. They needed payment up front, and I didn't have the checkbook, so I went to the credit union to get cash. By the time Libby and I got back, the transport was arriving, and so we waited while they took her out, and then we sorted through her belongings. I look all the pictures, a few pieces of clothing, but I left most of the stuffed animals and the bulk of her clothes for other residents to use who have need.
Right now I don't know quite what to do. I guess I need to contact Medicaid, the pension annuity, close out the bank account. I don't have energy to even explore what I'm supposed to do next. I keep getting phone calls: "How are you doing? Let me know if there's anything I can do."
Is it wrong to be relieved? Because I'm unspeakably relieved. The pressure of making sure her bank account stayed below $1500, not knowing what to do with the overages, and the fear. Long ago, Mom had gall bladder surgery, and made the horrible discovery that she was allergic to morphine. I was very afraid of what was going to happen when she got to be in a lot of pain. Becky was in such great pain that the nurse was afraid that the morphine doses were what was going to kill her. I could hardly bear the thought of Mom having to face pain so enormous without adequate medication. I'm so relieved she doesn't have to do that.
Now the pressure seems to be, when are you going to plan a memorial service? Chris said he would do whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted to do it. If I aimed at St. Patrick's Day, he thought both Myles and Ross could come. That might be a good idea. I guess I'll try to get with Joan tomorrow and talk to her about it. Maybe. It's snowing, and it's dumped about 3 inches so far. I haven't talked to Tim since I called him yesterday morning, I guess I need to call him again and see how he is.
Relieved, and yet I miss her. Every time I've driven past Llanfair Avenue in the last 24 hours, I have thought, I should stop and see Mom after supper--oh.
I probably won't ever go in there again. I miss her, even though the person I knew as my mother has been gone for a long time. These last two months, I have had glimpses of her, mischievous looks in response to something I said that she clearly thought was ridiculous, grins, giggles, and singing. On Christmas Day, she sang O Holy Night
with us. When she stopped smoking, she became a soprano again, and really loved soaring up high.
Eleanor Virginia Winburn Wooley, called Wendy, the last of her siblings, almost the last of her peers. June 28, 1927, to January 30, 2013. There were none like her.
I miss her.