18 February 2015

A long life, a bittersweet farewell

Sorry for the lack of posts.  I've been sick, hurt my neck, and generally haven't had anything interesting or meaningful to post (good or bad).  

My wife's mom passed away on Saturday.  Not exactly how we had intended to spend Valentine's day but life moves forward despite our calendars.

Anne had been in an assisted living home since last year.  Several years ago, my wife and her sister decided that they would take care of their parents at home for as long as they could.  Both David and Anne had been suffering from various ailments over the years - Alzheimer's, hip replacements, pacemakers, dementia, blindness all of which limited their mobility and activities.  David was in and out of the hospital the last few years with infections and illnesses.  At one point over Easter weekend when we were at the hospital, I honestly thought he wasn't going to survive the night but I was wrong.  David passed away two years ago in hospice care.  

Before her cancer surgery last year, both SIL and my wife decided that they could not take care of her during SIL's recovery and it was time to consider assisted living.  That was a hard decision for them to make and took a lot of heated debate.  Lots of unsolicited advice and opinions were offered by the rest of the family but ultimately it was their call and I respected their choice.

For the past year, Anne has been doing well in the home.  She was well cared for and had been stable for a long while.  Friday afternoon she started having problems breathing and the hospice nurse called us and said she was going downhill.  My wife and SIL went up to the home Friday to spend the evening with her.  She wasn't fully conscious but she seemed to recognize them being there.  They left late in the evening and were planning to go back up on Saturday when the nurse called and said she had passed peacefully.   

Given her age (91) and ailments, we had expected this day would come.  Given that, we were still not fully prepared.  The suddenness of her passing is what caught us off guard.  We felt that we would be sitting with her for at least the weekend or longer.  My wife was torn up from not being there when she passed.  We spent the afternoon with her saying our final good-byes.  My son and his wife were on their way down from Austin but did not make it in time.  We did spend the weekend with them remembering Anne and all of the good times/stories.  

Now comes the post plans.  People keep asking me what we are going to do.  Both Anne and David are from Arkansas.  All of their family is up there and they have a family plot.  When David passed two years ago, we had him cremated and have kept his ashes at home on the idea that, when Anne passes, we would take them back home to be buried with the family.  That is where we are at now.  The problem is SIL is too ill to travel.  She can barely tolerate a trip across town much less a trip across the state.  And flying is completely out of the question.  On top of that, my wife is taking full time car of her sister (still taking chemo), so she is not sure she can go for an extended trip.  We are not sure what we will do at this stage, but we are working out tentative plans for a trip north.

I know a lot of you guys have dealt with this exact same situation and I admire how you handled it on your end.  Grieving comes hard for me.  I know in my mind and heart that this is inevitable, but, when it happens I am still never prepared.