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Week of 11 August 2003

Latest Update : Tuesday, 12 August 2003 12:07 -0400


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Monday, 11 August 2003

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Tuesday, 12 August 2003

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12:07 - It has been a rough couple of days. Thanks to all of you who have sent condolences. Local friends have been bringing food and other gifts, all of which make things easier.

Neither Barbara nor me got much sleep Sunday night, but we slept well last night. When I awoke yesterday morning, I realized that for the first time in a dozen years or more, there was nothing I needed to do for my mother. When my dad died in December of 1990, my mom was left alone in their house. I started going over there every day to do things for her, run errands, and so on. A year or so later, we finished renovating the downstairs into a "granny apartment" and moved mom in with us. She lived down there for several years, and I'd be down there every day doing things for her. Eventually, we had to move her upstairs, both to eliminate the (literally) 40 or 50 trips up and down the stairs every day, and because we wanted her nearer us in case she fell or something.

With her upstairs, I saw her even more often. I'd bring her breakfast/lunch every day, empty and clean her potty chair, help her get a tape playing on her VCR, and sometimes just sit there and talk with her. A year ago, she fell and broke both of her legs, and at that point we had no choice but to move her to the nursing home. She hated it there. She really, really wanted to come back home to live, but we simply couldn't cope. But we were determined to make things as good as possible for her. Every morning, I'd go over and sit with her, talking, helping her work her crossword puzzles, or whatever. Every afternoon, Barbara would do the same. Except those few times that we were out of town visiting friends or something, mom got two visits nearly every day. When the press of daily life made it necessary to skip one of the visits, Barbara and I both felt terrible, as though we were cheating mom. But, as Barbara said the other day, mom probably got ten times as many visits in the one year that she lived at Brian Center as average residents got during their entire stays. We did everything we could. It wasn't enough, because what she really needed to be happy was to come back and live with us at home, but we simply couldn't do that.

Then when mom went in for surgery and ended up in the ICU, Barbara and I visited her frequently. Those visits were incredibly difficult for me, I think because I knew from the beginning that mom wasn't going to make it. I'd visit for an hour and leave feeling completely drained, as though I'd been breaking rocks for a full day. I couldn't let on, of course. I had to be cheerful and upbeat, which was as hard as anything I've done.

So when I awoke Monday morning, it was to a world that had changed. As Barbara said, the grief is mixed with relief. Relief that mom's battle is over and that she's no longer suffering. Death is never a friend. Never. But in this case, it was perhaps not an enemy.

So now Barbara and I need to rebuild our lives. Mom has always been there. Growing up, I saw her every day, of course. I went away to college in 1971, and saw her less frequently throughout my college years. In 1977, she and my father moved to Winston-Salem, and I didn't see her at all until I moved down here myself in 1979. From then until Barbara and I married in 1983, I saw my mother every day, and then from 1983 until 1990 an average of two or three times a week. From 1990 until now, I saw her every day. So having her gone is going to take some getting used to.

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Wednesday, 13 August 2003

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Thursday, 14 August 2003

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Friday, 15 August 2003

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Saturday, 16 August 2003

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Sunday, 17 August 2003

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