Saturday, June 28, 2008

Planning for the End

Uncle John is moving closer to "active" dying. I am taking Mom tomorrow to see him, she's having trouble and this may be her last visit. So this morning, I explained to her briefly that when he entered the active phase, I would take the dogs to the kennel and go keep a vigil so that he wouldn't be alone when he died.

"It doesn't work that way" she protested, "they just call you and tell you they are dead...YOu can't PLAN and, and I don't want to know....."

So I gathered my thoughts an said "Ok, then I won't tell you. But I have animals to attend to and I want them with me up until I need to go, so I have to plan. When the truck is gone and the dogs are too, you'll know that's where I'm at, but at that point I will not be worrying about you and Daddy worrying about ME, so I want you to know what's going to happen"

Americans, as a culture, really really suck at death. We are getting better, but it's still the boogy man taboo thing to do. You are not supposed to piss, shit, fart, belch or die. EVER. And you certainly don't talk about it.

Maybe that's why we release our sphincters at the end, we are just tired of holding it all in.

The truth is, that side of the family really does tend to just die in their sleep without much ado. And if John wants to do that that's fine with me, my feelings will not be hurt. If he chooses a more visible progression, I will be there, as promised. It's what I signed up for, and I will keep my word.

Mom and I trip over ourselves a lot trying to take care of each other. It's funny and sad at the same time. She mowed the front yard today and the crop circles are no longer stark, but are fading away. Unfortunately, now I know how it's done....heh heh heh....but I will contain myself to my own backyard. Every girl needs a hobby.


Forever Young said...

when my mom died 27 years ago, she just waited while my bro and i hovered for days and hours around her, then the moment we were told to go home and rest, she went...
they don't like to be hovered over,so i would say, sit with him and tell him how you feel about him, then go away and leave him be. he needs to rest now. bless you uncle john,
and i so wish i could wave my magic wand and take all this pain away between your mom and you, i feel it so rawly every time you talk about it.

BBC said...

Well, it's true, you can't plan. Spend some quality with them if you love them and also make the rest of your life work.

After all, it is your life and theirs are ending so there isn't a heck of a lot you can do about it.

When my uncle John (I really did love that little fucker)was dying I went to visit him in the hospital and spent some time with him and then got back to taking care of the business I owned.

Then I went to his funeral. He was being taken care of, I didn't haven't to be there every minute.

kj said...

when i look back on my father's death, it turned out to be a moving and reverent experience and i cherish it. for sure it would not have been that way were it not for the angels of hospice. again i hope the hospice folks are there to help uncle john and you.

and i'm with forever young re: you and your mom. i wish there were so way, or some words, to free you from the painful side of it.

take care, debra kay.

Debra Kay said...

It IS painful, but pain is not necesarily a bad thing, and I seem to do better acknowledging it, feeling it, and then moving on. I believe that unacknowledged pain is the source of a lot of woes.

And BBC, I'm not saying that you sit around and dwell on everything that ever hurt you 24/7. My own parents tend to do the stiff upper lip thing, and there are times when I sense a hurt in them that is older than I am. I'm no shrink, so the most I will do is say "wow, you've carried that a long time", the are adults and if they wanted to pull it out and work on it now, they would.

Part of what I need to do is not dwell on things when I am not caregiving. I'm wearing myself out obsessing about it. The writing actually helps-I sit down, formulate the thought, share it and move on.

Getting Mom to accept that John is dying and nothing can be done was a little harder. But I want to say that I'm proud of her-she's a crusty old bird and I think people give up on her too easily some times. It's not always been an easy thing to be her daughter-but I really owe my ability to work with difficult animals to her. And she owes my ability to tolerate her to my working with difficult animals for so long.

The key to it all is to recognize that it's not about YOU at all, or anything you did, particularly in the case of animals, but often in the case of Mom.

I believe John's dementia puts him closer to an animal's state of acceptance of his situation, and my own comfort level with that state allows us to sit quietly together without words.

Fern said...

I want to say something good and kind and helpful, but it seems your own words are the wisest.

you are lucky you have you.

studio lolo said...

I totally agree with sitting there so he won't die alone. If you get the sudden urge to leave the room for even a second and then he passes, you have to believe he "willed" that. That's what my dad did. (And FY's it sounds like.) I sat with my mother as she died, right up to her last breath. Even in the end thay have their own needs.
I agree with Fern. Your own words are the wisest because you're the one who's deep in this. It's your experience and you're taking the most you can from this lesson, and in the process you're helping your mother and Uncle John process it too.
We're all thinking of you.