I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “It takes a village to raise a child“. I’m here to say it takes a village to help someone die. That is surely the case if you want the experience to be the best it can possibly be for the one leaving this earthly plain and for those who must go on in the face of the loss. During the last seven months of my mom’s life a village of friends, family, and hospice professionals became the unit we lovingly and laughingly dubbed – Team Ruth.
I was the captain of Team Ruth. There were many responsibilities, physical, intellectual and emotional. Some of my responsibilities were easily met and others were more like “fake it until you make it”. Bold faith and a “I Whistle a Happy Tune” personal theme song can take you far in any situation. (click here if you aren’t familiar with that song from the King and I)
The physical care of my mom was the most worrisome of the responsibilities I took on. Would I and could I learn and execute the nursing skills required to care for Mom at home? Mornings were the most challenging times. Initially, the morning ablution could run into early afternoon because I was so cautious, clumsy and unprepared. The task was draining for both me and Mom. With time, I became more skilled. A pretty basket with all the supplies; a fresh stack of colorful towels and linens; all her favorite fragranced soaps and lotions at the ready; turned mornings into moments of connection.
We grew to like what became a sort of morning/mourning meditation for me and offered my mom an opportunity to take some pleasure from a body that had become her betrayer; the cause of her downfall. Sometimes this routine, this ritual, would be conducted in silence. Other times the task was accompanied by the murmuring of the morning news in the background. The events in the world, seemingly, distant and unimportant given our circumstances and inward focused existence. Occasionally, the happenings in the world would break through and prompt discussion, but mostly we’d spend the time reviving stories from our shared history; moments of mirth and mourning in the retelling.
For the Weekly Challenge: Good Morning, I’m sharing a collage of photos from a, particularly, silly morning with my mom. The morning was filled with bursts of soap bubbles and bursts of laughter. It was Halloween 2012. It was Mom’s last Halloween and she made it a rip-roaring celebration – a very good morning.
I am also, sharing a brief excerpt from the eulogy I wrote and delivered at her life celebration.
…not a day goes by that life doesn’t present me with an opportunity to celebrate the fact that she was; that she mattered; and that she gave me a gift that keeps giving. A gift that I proudly “re-gift” whenever possible. Her gift was her ability to face the moments that we label as good or bad with a joyful spirit and sharp sense of humor. She demonstrated that the good could be made great (and was always worth celebrating) and the bad was surmountable and survivable.
Even to the end – when we had some super scary moments – they were just that-moments.
We could be sober and serious in the middle of some scary shit and yet in an instant we could find something to smile about and laugh about. That’s pretty amazing.
Folks, who know me, know I loathe the overuse of the word awesome, but I will tell you in this she was AWESOME.