sunrise rockport

2015 – 01/20 – 

The next morning the sun rose in the sky like my world was not crashing down around me. Mothe Nature seemed oblivious to my pain. I gathered my wits about me the best I  could, quietly asking the sea to give me the strength I needed to make it through this day. I then got in my car and drove back to the hospital for the last time.


When I got to the hospital there was paperwork to be signed. They were eager to get her discharged, but I had one last request. She had not been able to see my stepdad since she got to the hospital because they were in completely separate parts of the facility. I asked if she could visit with him before leaving for the nursing home. I knew it was quite likely the last time she would see him. Tears come to my eyes as I think back on that. The hospital agreed to allow the visit so we got my mother up to the area where my stepdad was. This was the first time I had seen him since he had gotten admitted. I had been so consumed with taking care of my mother that I had not had time to see him. 

I remember how different but the same he looked all at once. I teared up a bit, but tried to stay strong. My mother walked quickly to his bedside, they held hands, she kissed him on the head and asked how he was, asked how she could help. He glanced at me in that moment. He knew that this was the last time he would ever see her, and he silently thanked me. They looked lovingly at each other, they kissed each other, and the tears fell unbidden from my eyes. This was the single most heartbreaking thing I could imagine. It was tragic.

His internal organs had started to shut down. He would not be going home. She was too far into her dementia to go home. Their world would be forever changed, and in that moment I felt all the pain, all the gravity of this whole impossible situation. My mother had no idea what was going on. She had no idea how sick he was. She had no idea that she had inadvertently started his final decline.

She glanced over towards me. She saw that I was crying, and she said in a very cold voice, “What the hell are you crying for? There is nothing to cry about. Just stop it. There is no need of that.” Looking at her as she said that brought me back to a day years before. My grandfather had passed away. We were at his funeral and my grandmother was seated between me and my mother. My grandmother was already suffering from dementia at that time. I remember my grandmother crying, holding her handkerchief to her face and holding my hand in her other hand. And I remember the same expression on my mother’s face that day as she looked at my grandmother and said, “That’s enough! Just knock that off. There is no need of that.” As much as I knew my mother was suffering from the same disease as my grandmother had suffered all those years ago, I don’t think I will ever forget that moment. It was all I could do not to totally break into wracking sobs. I still can’t think of being in that hospital room without crying. I told my mother it was time to go. My stepdad looked at her one last time, as though trying to memorize every inch of her face. He put his hand to the side of her face, told her he loved her, kissed her again and then my mom walked out of the room. I stayed a moment longer. I kissed him, I hugged him, I told him I loved him and he told me he loved me. And he asked me to take care of my mom for him. He had tears in his eyes and so did I. He knew it was the last time he was going to see my mom. It was awful, and undoubtably one of the hardest moments of my entire journey with my mom. 

Golden Living

I headed to the nursing home ahead of my mother so that I could get everything ready for her arrival. She came soon afterward and we set her up in her room. We showed her where her bureau and closet were, showed her the television. She sat on her bed and we were talking. Very soon afterward the activities director arrived.

He was a wonderfully vibrant man named Marcos. He was extremely exuberant and had a big smile on his face as he welcomed my mother and gave her a smoothie he had just made “especially for her.”  He had a very thick Brazilian accent.  She took the smoothie but didn’t drink it and as he left he said that there were lots of things to do in the common room down the hall and to come join him once she is settled in.  As soon as he walked out of the room she looked at me and said, “I do not like that man AT ALL. You keep him away from me.”  I brushed off the comment and distracted her.

It was time I needed to head back home, and I honestly needed an emotional break. Being strong in front of her was making me even more of a wreck than I already was. I put on an overly cheerful demeanor that totally defied the turmoil within me as I asked her to come with me to the room down the hall to see what’s going on there. 

There were fresh baked goodies being served and coffee, which made her happy. I helped her get a seat and Marcos came over with a treat and some coffee. She seemed to have forgotten her earlier opinion of him. I sat a while with her and we talked. Then I had to leave. I told her I needed to head home but would be back tomorrow. She proceeded to get up and follow me to the elevator. She said, “Let’s go then.”  I must have had a deer in the headlights look on my face because Marcos was there so fast. He engaged her in conversation. “Cathy, come help me with this.” He told me without words that she would be fine. It was so very hard to leave her there but I had no choice. 

As the elevator door closed the tears started coming. I left the facility in a blur, not sure if I even acknowledged the two people from the office as they said good bye. I somehow got to my car, and I sat there for I am not sure how long. I tried to just breathe, tried to regain my composure. I needed to get on the road for the long drive home. 


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