I first posted this story on my other blog, which I have not updated in nearly a year. It was/is mainly about my trip to Spain in 2007.
My mom passed away Tuesday, July 11, 2006, in Atlanta, GA, where she had lived since 1967. G. and I arrived at her house from Colorado on Sunday evening, went to see her in hosp. on Monday morning, where she had been in and out of ICU for a bit over a month. She initially went in to have treatment for a diabetic foot ucler, then progressed to breathing problems because of CHF, and the night they released her out of ICU and into a regular room, she had what we later found out was a cardiac arrest, coded, and they revived her. Well, after they “revived” her, basically she was on a vent and pretty non-responsive. It was something she was adamant she never wanted.
When we visited her, she was back in ICU, and unable to speak, but she recognized my voice, and she looked at me when I asked her to, blinked when I asked her to, and so I know that she knew I was there. My sister had told me that practically her last words had been about my daughter, her oldset grandchild, who, as usual, had been going through a lot of rough times. I was able to pass on to my mom that things were looking up with her, that she was working, and that her 2 great-grandsons were doing well.
We only stayed for a short while, kissed her goodbye, and said we would come again in the morning. We also wanted to talk to her doctor about DNR, etc. She had been very clear our entire lives that she did not want anything “long and drawn out” if a good recovery wasn’t possible. That was Monday.
In the wee hours of Tuesday morning, my brother called me, stating the hospital had just called, and mother’s breathing was becoming very labored. We had requested a do not reintubate that day, and the nurses had kindly put it in the chart. Paul said that the nurses told him that they were making her comfortable. I woke up Glena and told her what was going on. By the time I even got laid back down, Paul called again, and said the hospital had just called, and mother had passed. It was about 2:30 a.m.
Paul lives about 60 miles away from my mother’s house, where the rest of us were, so he said he would head over. I woke up everyone else and let them know. My sister was exhausted, and was having cancer surgery the next day, so she went back to bed. My other brother and I waited up for Paul, and when he got there, we just sat quietly in the family room, crying a little, laughing a little, and thinking how strange it was knowing that Mother wasn’t ever going to be in that house again.
Around 5:30, we all started to fade. The boys said they were going to try to go back to sleep, and I said I wanted to go out on the back deck for a while. Mother had built that deck on the back of the house after my dad died in 1990. She loved it, and always said HE would have loved it, too, but he would never have let her build it! Like everything else around the hosue, it had kind of fallen a bit into disrepair since my mom’s health began failing, but it was still very sturdy and safe. I pulled a lawn chair out and sat in the middle of the deck looking out into the dark back yard. It was very quiet.
My mother’s house is only 4 miles from the Atlanta airport, one of the worlds busiest, but where her house sits is surrounded by a few acres of undeveloped woods, and her house is at the end of a dead-end street, so there is almost no traffic. It was that magic time of just barely beginning to get light. I could see the silhouettes of the trees, but only as darker images against a nearly black background. From time to time, I thought I saw something move quickly around my head, but didn’t give it much thought.
A few minutes passed, and increment by increment, the yard began to get lighter. I continued to see/sense SOMEthing moving, just out of the corner of my eye, gone even before I could begin to focus on it. Then, I suddenly, I realized what that perceived movement was–it was bats. HUNDREDS of BATS. They suddenly appeared swooping and flying all around me as I sat mesmerized in the chair. I lived in that house from 1967 to 1992, on and off, and visited many times after that, and usually spent all the early mornings on the deck. I had NEVER seen anything like those bats. As I sat, amazed, I had an incredibly strong feeling that these bats were souls, and that this was my mother, come to say good by to me, to us, to her house, to her life. It was at once comforting and awe inspiring. I felt the wings around me, the breeze they lifted across my face, and in the coolness the morning air, I felt the tears I didn’t know I had shed drying on my cheeks.
I think about that morning a lot. I can’t believe it’s been seven years since she’s been gone. I want so much to be able to call her on the phone and commiserate about this current situation. I want to hear her make some wise-cracky comment and have us both laugh even though we want to cry. I suddenly realized that maybe one reason these last few weeks have been really hard for me is that, in addition to everything else, both my parents died in July, though 13 years apart. I’m trying to be gentle, with myself, with G, with GS1, even with BOC, but no one is making it any easier. Maybe I’ll sit out on the porch tonight and watch the sun set. Maybe a bat will fly by and I’ll whisper a soft hello on the breeze. Maybe I’ll feel better soon. I hope.