Mom fought Multiple Myeloma for nearly eight years. Such a prognosis was unheard of for a woman of her age. Her determination to be with the family she treasured kept her motivated. The months between chemotherapy when she felt more herself to enjoy a somewhat normal life with her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren was all she needed to tackle the next round of treatment, even though it made her so ill during that time.
The last two events my mother longed to live for was my son's wedding and the birth of her 9th great-grandchild. With God and all the angels above, she was able to enjoy both of those special events. Shortly thereafter, this beautiful woman became tired, and disease was overtaking her body. Even then, she wondered if another round of treatment would help. But, her illness was too advanced and there was nothing more we could do but keep her comfortable.
Because she was suffering with much pain, it was suggested that hospice would be the best way of keeping her comfortable. Since her needs surpassed our ability to care for her at home, the decision to place my mom in a hospice residence did not come easy, especially because of her continuous will to live, even at her age of 91. A medical social worker guided us through the process of her admission to hospice care.
When Mom was moved to the place we knew would be her bridge to heaven, my sister, brother, and I were immediately overcome with a calmness as the atmosphere was full of love and compassion from the first words spoken to us as we registered her into the home. While signing appropriate documents with the registrar, a nurse and an aide went into my mother's new room and closed the door behind them. Apparently, they were getting her set up in her new surroundings. After she was clean, fluffed, and tucked, the three of us stepped in to be with her and were mesmerized of her home-like comfortable surroundings. It was not only a room for Mom, it was a room for all of us. When someone says hospice takes care of the patient as well as the family, I now have an understanding of just what that means. The bed wasn’t a standard hospital bed. Mom's bed was large enough for three so we could be next to her whenever we wanted, which was often.
Her pain was always attended to by the nurses. They knew just when she needed less, and then needed more. Mom already looked more content than she had been in weeks. Throughout her time there, the staff continued giving her whatever she required for comfort care. At the same time, they always asked what they could do for us. A priest and chaplain prayed with us. Volunteers crocheted for us a memory square which was accompanied with a prayer. The entire family, children, pets and all were welcomed for visits. With the spaciousness of her room, my brother, sister, and I were with Mom day and night since it was indicated it wouldn’t be long before she’d leave us. At times, we sat in the beautiful chapel and prayed, ate as a family in the full kitchen where cookies were baked fresh every day, or took comfort in front of the fireplace set in a sitting room which even had a grand piano.
The more hours which passed, the less mom verbalized. However, the staff assured us she would hear whatever we were saying. Due to her vitals and other signs, the nurse expressed she was close to the end. We told mom she’d see Dad very soon, and that they’d be dancing together once again. When she was taking her last breaths, the nurse confirmed it was over, and mom was passing. We kissed her, we cried, we held her hand until her last breath. As sad as it was to see the death of our mom, it was also a beautiful moment to feel we somehow guided her peacefully to the angels.
Without the hospice team of people being at our beck and call, I don’t believe we would have had the same experience. Whether a hospice team cares for a patient in his or her own home, in a hospital setting, or in a residential type hospice home, the care they give is tremendously selfless and superlative. They are the experts. They know what a patient and family needs. They care, they comfort, and they provide compassion to all involved with their patient at the end of their time.