Saturday, August 11, 2012


As I sit in my mom's hospice room working remotely to pass the time, 19 days after she arrived here, I am reflecting on what the last few weeks has brought to me.  I want to be able to remember this time because although it has been one of the most trying times in my life, I also have a lot of beautiful special memories with my mom, family and friends.  As I sit here, listening to my mom's extremely shallow breathing with long pauses, wondering if that one might be the first of the last, I need to "re-member" my mom and the latest journey she has taken us on.
If you know my mom, you know that she has a beautiful soul.  She is reserved and sort of reclusive, but if you know her well, you know that when you are blessed to be in her presence, she loves to laugh, gives her love freely and is such a fun person to be around.  She is positive, extremely stubborn and has a never give up attitude.  I always knew she was stubborn, but it has been in the past sever weeks/years since this battle started that I realized that she is where I get my never give up attitude from.

From August 2012

On July 3, 2012 my mom went into the hospital with extremely low blood levels.  Her tumor had been bleeding a lot and she had been getting blood transfusions about every 7-10 days for months.  She stayed in the hospital for 3 weeks.  They told us that there wasn't anything more they could do but continue giving her blood, but due to the amount she had already had, there were beginning to be a lot of risks with continuing on that course.

From August 2012

On Monday 7/23/12, she was transported to a hospice facility.  That was the best decision that all of us made, including my mother.  They gave her some medicine that morning to help her not be anxious and to help her not be car sick.  When she arrived at hospice around noon, she spent the rest of the day sleeping.  One of the promises she had to look forward to at hospice was seeing her grandchildren.  By about 6PM she had woken up enough that I decided to bring them by for a quick visit.  Mom ate dinner the entire time we were here.  Devin colored two pictures for my mom, a little girl with a kitty and a horse.  They have been hanging on the bulletin board in her room since the day she arrived.  iI actually folded them both and put them in her hands to be sent with her body for eternity. My mom had spent a lot of time in bed for the previous months anyway and when we would come over, Devin would just climb in bed with her and Cooper would plan on the floor.  So it wasn't alarming to Devin at all since the facility here is a lot more home like.  My mom enjoyed watching the children play in her room and interacting with them in a limited capacity.  We left, and when I called my mom later that night on her cell phone, I was very surprised that she actually answered.  She told me she had slept all day and didn't get dinner and had asked them for some toast and yogurt.  I reminded her that she ate the entire time we had visited.  She couldn't remember any of it and kept saying she felt so stupid.  I assured her that they were probably just happy that she wanted to eat! 

From August 2012

Tuesday 7/24/12 was scheduled to be a big day for us.  We had been trying to plan a baptism for my children for this Summer, but with mom in and out of the hospital and pretty sick and weak, it just hadn't come to fruition.  So we planned to have the baptism there in her hospice room.  When I called for the morning update that day, my brother told me that mom had really taken a turn for the worse that day and that the nurse had said she only had 24-48 hours.  I left work and came straight to her room.  She was in and out of lucidity, she could barely even swallow anymore.  She was in a lot of pain and getting morphine often.  It was pretty crazy how fast this was all of a sudden happening.  We were able to have the baptism that afternoon in her room and it was a beautiful small ceremony.  Father Pool blessed all of us, and also read her her last rights without it being too obvious.  It was extremely ahrd for me to leave that evening knowing that she could die overnight but the nurses assured us they would call us if they saw any change.

My dad had planned to bring her kitty to see her on Wednesday but given her steep decline, he decided to bring the cat this day as well.  That went well. 
Wednesday 7/25/12: Much to my suprise, I didn't get a phone call overnight.  When I walked in and went straight to the nurses station, she told me that my mom was having a rally.  Wow!  She was sitting up in bed, eating, talking and carrying on.  She was very confused all day, and as the day progressed, she became less and less lucid.  It was such a gift to have one more day of her conversing with us all.  My cousin Awol came to town this day to help me with the kids for the week so I could stay focused on mom.  When she arrived in town and walked in my mom said to her: You two are just like sisters. You have always been like sisters. You are so lucky to have that. Those words could not be more true.  I am so lucky to have a twin cousin who is more like a sister to me than anything else.
Mom didn't remember anything about the day before including the baptism or the visit from her kitty.  So dad brought the kitty up again.  I also brought the children up again this day.  This would be the last time I would bring them. 
Also, important for me to note for myself, this was the last day she had any food or drink.

From August 2012

Thursday 7/26/12: Today when I arrived, mom was awake talking to my Aunt Emily, but she was not very coherent.  She said a lot of really funny and strange things this day.  First, she kept telling us they hadn't brought her breakfast and she wanted coffee.  She wanted cofee and coffee and coffee.  She was really adamant about getting her coffee, and once it arrived, she never drank any.  She also at one point was sitting up and said, "oh, I have lost a finger" as if it had just jumped off her hand and ran off.  I laughed hysterically about this.  This is such a typical type of thing my mom would say and it just really stuck with me.  She was also talking about someone from 20+ years ago and somebody trying to kill him.  This really did happen apparently according to my aunt Emily.  She made another comment about really needing to get that sand off her foot.  She went on and on about it until my cousin Alison gently wiped it off for her.  She also asked us if she had had a stroke or something.  This was all in about a 1-2 hour time span in the morning, after that she spent the rest of the day sleeping and very hard to rouse.  She had also told Emily the day before that she was hoping to get out and run errands with her today.

From August 2012

Friday 7/27/12: This day mom was mostly unresponsive.  The one thing that really sticks out to me about this day was that she cried.  It was while she was unresponsive, but it really made my dad and my brother and I really upset. 
Sunday 7/29/12: Mom had been mostly unresponsive now for several days.  I insisted that I stay this day while they gave her a bath because I knew that my best chance of any response from her was going to be while they were moving her.  She shows us that she knows we are there in multiple ways, but they aren't always super obvious.  That night, when I called for my nightly update, the tech commented that the night before when she had told my mom that I had called to check on her and that I loved her, that she had cried lots of tears.  As soon as I heard that, I told Chris I had to go up there and see her.  I had been having a really hard day this day missing my mom.  The reality that I would probably never have another two way conversation with her was really setting in.  I hadn't had any quality alone time with her in weeks either, since before she left the hospital. 
I went up there and I had a great conversation with her.  She didn't speak, but she knew I was there because she was crying and moving her jaw and moaning as if she was sobbing.  She and I cried together and it was a much needed response.  I gave her my blessing to stop fighting once again this night.  I noticed for the first time this night that her hands were starting to get cold which is a sign that things are changing.

From August 2012

Monday 7/30/12: This day I went into the office and worked in the morning then came back and worked from her room for the afternoon.  She didn't really respond to me that day at all.  I came up that night and I read her "Love you Forever".  This book always makes me cry when I read it to Devin.  I can't believe I didn't shed one tear reading it to her.

This day I also received a really sweet card from my Uncle David and Aunt Rebecca.  When I opened the card, there was my mom's birth announcement.  I read that to my mom as well and explained to her about how hard it is to be born, and that it is equally as hard to die.

Tuesday 7/31/12:  The next several days my mother was basically unresponsive.  Every now and then she would tell you she loved you when you said it to her.  She also had a lot of terminal restlessness.  She tries to lift her head and says she needs to get out of bed. 
Wednesday 8/1/12: This evening when I visited, I read her a poem titled "Life's Western Window".  I am not sure who the author is.  My grandmother loved this poem and asked that it be read at her funeral so I thought it might be a good thing to read to help her in her transition towards her next journey.


Sometimes when the day is ended

And its round of duties done,

I watch at the Western Window

The gleam of the setting sun.

When my heart has been unquiet

And its longings unbeguiled

By the day’s vexatious moments

Longing to be reconciled,

I look at the slope of the mountain

And over the bur-strewn lea

And think of that Beautiful City

That is not far from me.

My spirit is hushed in a moment

As the twilight falls so sweet

And in fancy I cross the River

And kneel at the Master’s feet.

And rest in the shade that falleth

From the trees with their healing rife

That shadow the banks of the River

Whence flow the Waters of Life.

Sometimes when the day is ended

And the duties He gave are done

I shall watch at the Western Window

The gleam of the setting sun.

I shall fall asleep on the twilight

As I never slept before

To dream of the Beautiful City

Till I wake to sleep no more.

There will fall on my restless spirit

A hush – O wondrous sweet

And I shall cross over the River

To rest at my Master’s Feet.

Friday 8/3/12:  This was Chris' birthday.  I worked from her room this morning and then went and spent the afternoon and evening with Chris and Kortnee.  I took Chris out to eat a really nice dinner since it was his 40th and I hadn't been able to pull together a party for him which I had really wanted to do.  He and I went by for a quick visit on the way home to tuck my mom in for the night.  She knew we were both there and was moving her mouth as if she wanted to talk.  It really upset Chris' because he hadn't seen her since the baptism.  But it was nice to have an obvious confirmation that she knew we were present.
Saturday 8/4/12: Basically the next several days she was pretty unresponsive.  She would sometimes track us with her eyes, or even blink, but that was about it.  This evening her blood pressure dropped to the lowest it had ever been as well as her O2 saturations.  Her heart rate also started to increase.  I felt certain that she only had days left.

From January 12

Tuesday 8/712: The next two days she spent a lot of time being very agitated.  She was very restless and kept trying to move.  This is terminal restlessness.
Thursday 8/9/12: My dad called me and told me that while he was there visiting, she started doing that fish out of water breathing.  I called and spoke to her nurse.  They were telling people that they should say there goodbyes.  No one will give us timelines, especially for my mom, because at this point, they feel she is a medical miracle.  She should have been gone that Tuesday after she arrived.  They felt she was actively dying then.  They felt it would likely be 24 hours or less, if that, but that it would probably happen overnight.  My brother and I both came directly to her room after work and spent several hours with her.  She had stopped the fish out of water breathing but her breathing has definately become more shallow and sporadic with apne mixed in.
Friday 8/10/12: I wasn't really surprised when I called this morning and she was still alive.  She is still hanging in there.  Her breathing continues to be very shallow and her apnea is lasting longer and longer.  I am working from her room today so that I can stay close by........more to come later.

From August 2012

Later: Almost as soon as I hit publish, my mom gasped for air and stopped breathing for about 5 minutes.  I had the nurse come give her some morphine to help calm her and help her not fight it.  She somehow from the depths of her body found a way to start breathing again.  Both the nurse and I thought that was her moment, but she had other plans.  We joke that it  took her 5 minutes to decide whether to take the hand of the angel leading her to Heaven or the one keeping her here and she changed her mind at the last minute.
Saturday 8/11/12: Mom has been fish out of water breathing on and off for 2 days now.  Most patients can't last more than 10-12 hours they say.  In the morning she did a lot of what I like to think of as talking to angels.  She made a lot of sounds, but we all agreed, she didn't not seem to be in pain. 

At 10:15PM After a long hard fight, my mother finally won her battle.  In true Woody Stallard fashion, she kept missing the exit to Heaven and was almost late. She found her way though right on time.  May you rest in peace sweet mommy.  Such a dear loving soul.  Her memory will always shine a bright light in my life.  My brother was with her when she passed, and I arrived minutes later.  I had resolved weeks ago that I was OK if I didn't make it in time.  I really wanted to be there, but I knew that what should happen would.  I know in my heart that she needed Edward to have this experience that will forever change him.  I am so thankful she was not alone and that her passing was very peaceful.

From August 2012

1 comment:

error7zero said...

Difficult reading, Sarah.
Glad you have so many wonderful memories of your mother.
My sympathy and prayers to you, Edward and your father.