Friday, October 21, 2011
My mother-in-law passed away last week. It was unexpected and it was quick. Two weeks ago she called Steve and told him she was going to the er by ambulance for shortness of breath. He told her he would meet her there since he was at work and about twenty minutes to a half-hour away from where she was. That was Thursday. They decided to keep her in the hospital because they thought she had pneumonia. Her oxygen saturation level was in the 70's and she needed closer monitoring.
She'd had a lump in her neck but thought it was possibly thyroid cancer like I had years ago. She was going to get a biopsy eventually, it was scheduled, but since she was already in the hospital it was decided to do one there.
On Friday she was diagnosed with cancer. The lump in her neck turned out to be a tumor that had wrapped itself around an artery and the bone in her neck.
On Saturday different family members spent the day with her.
On Sunday Steve went up to spend the whole day with her.
On Monday we both went up and the oncologist came in while we were there and basically told us the cancer was untreatable. Even with chemo it might add three months on to her life. It was decided that she wouldn't do chemo and go home on hospice instead.
On Tuesday we had a meeting with the hospice team and her little studio apt was set up with hospice care equipment and she went home about 6:30 that night. Steve and I went home and our niece, her husband and Steve's sister went to moms to help her get settled and Steve's sister was staying with mom.
On Wednesday about 3:00 in the morning we get a call to come because mom has taken a turn for the worst. This wasn't even twelve hours later! She was pretty unresponsive but I did help her get up one last time to try and use the restroom. We got her back in bed and changed her top since she was damp and clammy.
She would open her eyes and respond if someone spoke to her. I was able to tell her thanks for taking me in when I was only fifteen and for taking me on as a daughter. She told me, "You're welcome." Most of the grandkids who lived in town and all of her kids were able to be there on Tuesday. We had fun together remembering our family times, we would get shushed to be quiet when we got too loud, but most importantly we were there to help mom pass from this world to the next. Every now and then she would ask us to help her sit up so she could look at everyone in the room and then lie back down.
We ended up going home that evening. Thursday I went to home school class day like I do every Thursday and then went to the doctors because of my darn leg. While I was in the drs. office Steve called to say that his mom had died.
She would have wanted it that way. She would have wanted to go quickly. She wouldn't have wanted to linger on needing someone else to take care of her. She was feisty. She told it like it was. She was tolerant of others as much as she could be. If you rubbed her the wrong way well, then, she had no patience for you, but it didn't take much to win her approval. You just had to be nice to her. That was it!
Back in 1976 I moved in with mom when I was only a fifteen year old teenager with a past of running away from home. I lived with her my high school years until we moved out and got an apartment of our own, when I was a senior in high school. She called every birthday and anniversary. Her kids and her grandkids were her pride and joy. They could do nothing wrong.
She was loved. She will be missed. She left quite a legacy. Five children, twenty-two grandchildren, fifteen great-grandchildren.