So, 9 days ago I lost my first ever best friend. My mom.
She had a very rapid type of dementia that came like a theif in the night and stole a piece of her each time.
I noticed the first signs years ago but she hid it well , she was smart. I told my brothers and every time I mentioned it they said she’s just old Louise leave her alone. But I saw through the charade and I knew she was too proud to let on.
So I just kept I watchful eye out on her, checking up on her more often than normal involving her in my life more than normal just to make sure she was OK. I remember one time I went to her house to check on her and in the dog dish was some cereal Froot Loops to be exact. And I looked in her freezer to see if she had been eating the microwaveable dinners I had brought her since she could no longer remember how to use the stove and I feared for her leaving it on and burning the house down. I went to check the freezer they were all still there so I know she wasn’t eating and she most likely forgotten how to use the microwave was too proud to tell me. And then I saw some dry dog food in a snack dish on the counter and I knew she had been eating it I just broke my heart thinking she couldn’t confide in me. That day I went home and told my hubby we are taking my mom and she’s not living alone anymore and the next day we went back and moved her in. She was so happy she cried.
For The next two years she lived here with me and I watched a steady decline in her mental state. I had to bathe her and help dress her and I couldn’t trust her to be in the house alone because she would wander outside and we live on a busy highway.
Eventually she became incontinent and it just became too much for me anymore. She would become extremely pissed at me that I was trying to put her in diapers but I had no choice but the fighting me off was too much I couldn’t handle it all by myself. She would always end up in tears because she was so ashamed It would break my heart. I had to make a decision to put her in a nursing home June 2016. By September she was in a walker, by December she was in a wheelchair and come no longer move her arms or legs the dementia was taking more and more of her brain every day.
Christmas day I had lunch with her in the chapel at the nursing home, her food had to be puréed and I had to hand feed her it was just her and I , It was so peaceful. I’ll never forget that day. She didn’t even know it was Christmas although I had told her a few times. She always made such a big deal about Christmas when we were young and made it super special for us even though we didn’t have much money. She always found a way to make it awesome.
By New Year’s I noticed a huge change, she no longer want to eat I had to force her to eat in or take up to three hours to finish a half of one meal and I knew, if I wasn’t there feeding her the people that work at the nursing home we’re not gonna spend three hours trying to make her eat they would just give up after a couple of mins. By her birthday, Jan 30 she had lost so much weight and could barely respond usually just with a nod or eye movement. I brought in Zoey her little teacup Chihuahua and she didn’t recognize her for the very first time. She was giving up. I knew it. My mom was always a very active person and to be stuck bedridden was not the way she wanted to live, she was slowly leaving. I took every chance I could to talk to her while she was still lucid tell her she was amazing , apologize for being such a shitty teenager and thank her for being a wonderful friend , my best friend, mother and grandmother. She would smile then and a tear would slip from her eye.
February 27 – March 10 2017
So, her last 2 weeks of her life were spent in palliative care in the “butterfly room” in her nursing home. I left work to be by her side. I promised her I would hold her hand until Jesus took the other. And I kept that promise. Night after night I would push this tiny love seat up to her bed and lay down beside her hold her hand and just talking about old times and just being there. Looking in each others eyes for extended periods of times not saying a word. Just locking eyes and holding hands and smiling at her and telling her that I would never leave her. I sang ‘You are my sunshine’ to her so many times like she sang to me when I was little. That was our song. I haven’t sang it since the day she left.
My mom always took care of her appearance so I curled her hair everyday for the last remaining days even though every time the nurses came in to change her or reposition her it would get all messed up. I would just redo it after they were gone. I spritzed perfume on her and told her she looked beautiful. I gave her sponge baths myself. I know she wouldn’t want strangers doing this except for a few psw there that she had grown close to.
I remember washing her feet, and they had started to mottle (one of the last signs they are dying) and they were so cold, I just broke down. I tried miserably to warm them up but of course, that was never going to happen. Then, another sign , “doll eyes”. Where her eyes no longer were aligned. Those beautiful eyes that had specks in them like rare marbles couldn’t see me anymore. Each day something else stopped and each time it tore a piece of my heart out.
She had stopped eating completely the first day in palliative. Then by Thursday she had stopped all fluid intake.
I stayed there 24/7. Every few days I would race home and get a good shower in (sponges baths don’t quite feel the same) my hubby would come straight from work and sit with her while I left. I was always afraid she would leave while I was gone. 😦
I watched her slowly die of starvation for almost 2 weeks. Although her brain was no longer telling her she was hungry and she didn’t feel starvation pain ,It was the most horrific thing to see. Each day something else stopped working and she was just a skeleton of my mom by the end.
I was lucky enough to have caught some lucid moments with her and she knew I was there and that I loved her deeply and wouldn’t leave her side.
The last night, and I knew it was the last I pushed the love seat up to her bed got in an pulled the covers up , then I took her hand which was so tiny and frail in mine and said 1 more slumber party k mom? Kissed her forehead and laid there looking at her. The nurses had so kindly propped her up to lay on her side facing me.
Around 2 hours later her breathing changed drastically and I knew she was leaving. I cradled her as best I could and looked into her eyes and told her not to be scared and it was ok to fly home. I kept caressing her cheek speaking softly , repeating ” I love you mom, you are the best mom and best friend I could have asked for.” And just like she held me when I took my first breaths, I held her while she took her last.
Rip mom I love and miss you so much ,
Your ever loving daughter and partner in crime , Louise
Natalie, momsie , Nana ….. 1938-2017 🦋
And to Julie, my best friend who has always been there for me even when I thought I didn’t need company was there and has always been there for me and mom. I love you. Mom loved you like her own. She appreciated you and loved your visits and the sweets you snuck in for her. Bless your big heart. Xo.