Monday, March 18, 2013

Memories of Ten Years Past ... and More

This morning's CBC documentary flashback to the SARS epidemic of ten years ago, took my mind back to my mother's last days. It was just about this time of year when we were visiting Shauna and Eric here in Ottawa, having left my mother in Sarnia where she still lived alone although I visited often. We knew that she was losing some steam in recent days, but we didn't realize just how much.

She had a fall while we were away and couldn't get up. She managed to reach the phone and call some friends who came over to help. They phoned us, but there was little we could do as we were across province with our vehicle stuck in repairs for a few days.

By the time we got home, Mom had been put into a home and was spending most of her time sleeping. They would take her down to the dining room, and she would even nod off during the meal.

After some finagling with her next-to-useless doctor, we had her admitted into hospice care. The SARS scare was on in full force in Toronto, so hospitals were also being very careful in Sarnia — to the point where she was permitted to have only family visitors.

Several weeks later, she passed away in the wee hours of April 12 2003. I had visited her earlier and was surprised to get a call that evening that she was failing fast. I headed to the hospital and waited for Sue, Shauna and Eric to join me. Since we had known that mom was fading fast (just not that fast) the kids had already made plans to visit and were well on their way.

Mom passed away shortly after they arrived. She regained consciousness for a few seconds shortly before the end and looked at us with apparent recognition but was unable to speak. She heard a noise from Eric shuffling on the other side of the bed and made an effort to turn and look, but she didn't have the strength. She closed her eyes again and soon took her last breath.

80th birthday: seven years before she left us
Mom and me: 1948
Mom and Shauna: mid-1970s in St Catharines
Mom and Allyson: elementary school graduation, 1991
Mom and me on my birthday one year. I have a note that she was 82 at the time, but that would put me at ~50, I seem to have
a lot of hair (comparitively speaking) and a really dark beard for that age. Mind you, at 66 the hair is still pretty dark
and the beard is still 50% dark, so the note may be correct.
Edit: I just took a closer look at the chairs and the lack of a deck, so she was definitely not 82, and I was sure younger than 50. I think it would be closer to 72 and 40.


Hilary said...

A fine tribute to your lovely mother. I can see such a strong family resemblance between the two of you, and especially between Shauna and Nicki Dee.

Gina said...

How lovely it was to read this and see the wonderful family photos!

Donna said...

Beautiful Lady and sweet memories Ac...(((hugs)))

Jinksy said...

AC in a pushchair? Priceless! LOL

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

Nice post even though a bittersweet one and also enjoyed all the family photos and seeing your mom, John. Nice that she knew family was with her when she passed away.

Lorna said...

Everyone has already posted the comments I wanted to post, especially the bittersweet part.

Pearl said...

Shauna sure looks like she has a doppleganger.

I's shocking how quickly older people can shift, especially past 80. when I look at photos of my dad, I can see the small strokes in retrospect but couldn't see them in person.

Lovely tribute to you mom.

Ruth said...

Nice memories. It sounds like she had a good life up until the final few weeks/months. It is hard watching a parent lose their health and independence.