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The last few months with mom

Updated on August 22, 2013


Mom's last picture, she had a smile always!
Mom's last picture, she had a smile always!
Happier days
Happier days

The beginning

“I feel like I’ve broken a rib and I think I may go to the emergency room”. Those were the words spoken to me by my mother one bright September morning. I told her “Ok, do you want me to go with you?” She said she wasn’t sure if she was going to go just yet but would call if she decided to.

Several hours later I called to see how she was doing, she informed me then that she had been at the hospital for more than 6 hours. I was appalled, we live in a small town and the hospital isn’t too busy so why would they take so long? And why didn’t she call me to go? I would have lit a fire under those folks to get her out of there.

I was sure there was more to it than what she was telling me.

Several days later her and my Dad came to the house to talk to me. Mom had received a phone call earlier that day, her Doctor told her over the phone “You have a mass on your lung that is probably cancer”. WHAT??? What kind of Doctor does that? I mean don’t they usually have you come into the office to talk? He had to be wrong.

It was set up that she would have a biopsy done. More tests were ordered. They came back that she not only had cancer in her lungs but also in her liver. I was in denial. No way! This can’t happen to my mom, she has been through enough in her life for this. She had quit smoking for 10 years, it had to be something else.

It came back that she was in stage 4 cancer. This was the first time I had to deal with issues of cancer, so I hit the internet. Looked everything up that I could find.

Treatments and Living

“Ok, so what happens next?” Was my question to my folks. She had gotten an Oncology Doctor who was going to treat her. We were on the road to recovery! She received the recommended treatment for her cancer. Quite rapidly she lost her hair due to these treatments, this was probably the hardest thing for Mom, her hair loss, she had always felt her hair was her "Crowning Glory". I had decided I was going to convince Mom that we needed to shave her head, rather than watch in horror of it all falling out. In her mind, she had already decided that was the best thing. She tried on a few wigs and decided which ones looked best, put on her lipstick and she was ready for the world. Over time the treatments were complete, things looked good.

Christmas came and we celebrated with Mom and Dad, as was our custom. Mom and Dad's presence just seemed to make the holiday's for us. I don't know if we put Mom's cancer out of our minds, but at least it was in the very back, this was a time for celebrating.

My parents took a vacation to Florida and had a fantastic time. They returned home and because my Dad is a Shriner, were attending the Shrine Circus and helping out as was their usual custom. I had a ‘feeling’ that something wasn’t right, so I called their cell phone, I had to call repeatedly until my Dad answered. They were on the way to the hospital, Mom had a seizure.

I headed straight to the hospital. She looked bad, she didn’t remember what had happened. I stayed there until someone had some answers. Apparently the cancer had come back with a vengeance. Not only did she have lung and liver cancer, it had attacked her bones as well as her brain. Appointments were set up for her to have radiation treatments, she would have a special skull cap made and something that fit on her right shoulder, where the bone cancer was most prominent. I went with her and Dad on one of these appointments. After the treatment she would be all red, like a serious burn. Sometimes it hurt, sometimes it didn't. Whatever it took, I wanted Mom better. There were more treatments, this time causing pneumonia.

She ended up with pneumonia and had a week long hospital stay. It was bad. On one visit I took some crocheting for her to do, while she spent her time there. It was too difficult for her to comprehend. It was a simple pattern for a prayer shawl. I didn't say anything to her or my Dad, but for Mom not to remember simple stitches such as 'double crochet' and chains? I went home and cried. Then I took up the yarn and made the prayer shawl, I felt if she couldn't do it, I would do it for her. It helped immeasurably, I spoke with God as I worked, and I felt peace within. Just prior to finishing it, the news came that a young girl that my daughter went to school with, had died. I talked to God and he helped me decide that the best thing I could do was finish the shawl and with a note of explanation, give it to the Mother of the girl. So that is what I did, I knew how much it helped me, I only prayed that it would help her.

After the pneumonia, her Doctor explained that the treatment wasn't doing her any good, it was in fact killing her. He that told her there really wasn’t any more they could do for her, any treatments they could find wouldn’t prolong her life, just make her miserable while she was still here. The Doctor asked if she wanted to know how long she had, she said she did. He told them Mom should get her affairs in order, because she didn’t have long, 2 to 4 months at the most. On the way home Mom said she wished that she hadn't asked, she really didn't want to know.

As much as I loved my mother I had to respect her decision of no more treatment. She had spent almost all of her adult life in pain, due to an auto accident when I was 2. One leg was shorter than the other, she had to wear special shoes with a lift and could never walk barefoot. She had to use a walker to get around now, and her back was misshapen due to her uneven walking. The pain sometimes became intolerable for her. If I wanted to keep her alive it would be for my own selfish reasons. At times, because of the pain, she said she wanted to go.

She and my Dad were worried how I would handle her passing. I did a lot of soul searching, I had to tell her my thoughts. She had her good days and bad, somehow I managed to get her on a good day. I called my Dad and asked if I could kidnap her for the day. I knew he needed a break and he thought it would be a great idea.

I had some running around to do so she went with me. We talked and talked all the while I drove. We decided together that if she couldn't take any more medicine then we would let laughter be her medicine. We wouldn’t cry, we would laugh over the good times. This is how we decided to spend her last days. It would be harder than I ever imagined, trying to keep up a brave face.

Mom and Dad did some running around of their own, from time to time they would stop over and see me, telling me what they had been up to. One of these times had me crying and laughing, sending me into an emotional tailspin. This time they informed me they had been 'Funeral Home' shopping. I thought this was some sort of sick joke, but no, Mom informed me that she even looked at caskets. Ewwww, that was the creepiest thing I'd ever heard! She even wrote her own obituary. "Mom!!" I exclaimed, "that is just too weird!" She said "Well Honey, these are just the things that you need to do sometimes." After they left, I went in my house and cried.

The whole family pitched in to help, my grown sons and my younger daughters would come and sit with Mom. My brother came over often to help her, as did I. At times it was just the four of us Mom, Dad, my brother and I. It took us back to the days when we were all happy. We would cut up and tell jokes, just to keep a smile on Mom’s face. Mom would have me doing things, she knew exactly where everything was, and if she needed it, I got it. She had one of those electric carts that she'd drive around the yard, telling my brother which weeds to pull and which bushes to trim. From time to time people would come over for a visit, she always had a smile for them. She made it easy for everyone to be around her, just by smiling, never showing her pain.

Death is Inevitable

On July 1, 2006 at 11:42 pm, my Dad called with the news. Mom had taken her last breath. Because it was her wish to remain at home, we hurried over to their house. It was too soon!! Her time wasn’t up yet! I didn’t get to say goodbye!

I couldn’t believe it, I thought maybe my Dad was mistaken. She was just sleeping.

It was not to be. I finally had to admit the truth, my Mom was gone.

My Dad had called the Nurse from Hospice, so she would be coming soon. She was a very kind lady that I am sorry to say I cannot remember her name. She told me that she needed to clean up my Mother before the funeral home came to get her and told me that if I wanted to I could leave the room. I asked her if I could stay and help. My mother had spent all of my life caring for me, I wanted to be able to do this one last thing for her. It was a very healing time for me, I was able to reconcile her to God, as was her wish. I knew that she would be running barefoot thru the daisy’s very soon.


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    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 7 years ago from Michigan

      Aww, Thank you Sharon. I still need to write her story. It will certainly be interesting! She led one heck of a life!!

    • profile image

      Sharon 7 years ago

      Awesome & heartfelt Hub. Thank you for sharing. you were blessed to have such a wonderful mother. She too, was blessed to have you! Sad & beautiful at the same time...Someone hand me a Kleenex!

    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 7 years ago from Michigan

      Some days are easier than others. She always had good words of wisdom when I was feeling down. I loved all of her quips and quotes. One of her favorites "This too shall pass"... Yeah, I miss her.

      Thanks for stopping by!

    • LillyGrillzit profile image

      Lori J Latimer 7 years ago from The River Valley, Arkansas

      Dear Sweetsusieg, thank you for sharing the beauty of a true mother. Thank you for sharing the good of her love and life. I am sorry for your loss. Death is unfair to the living. The very best to you and yours. You are your Mother's daughter, very kind and sweet.

    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 7 years ago from Michigan

      Oh I'm sorry you cried!!! Well, I cried as I wrote it, but then I knew her and her fighting spirit! I know she is in a better place, but I truly do miss her! We talked daily on the phone and she was my friend as I got older.

      Thank you for reading and commenting!

    • joaniemb profile image

      joaniemb 7 years ago from New York

      As I read you hub I cried. What a beautiful story of a caring and loving family. I lost my Mom a year and a half ago and we also had Hospice. My sister and I took care of her till the end. I still cry from time to time not for Mom because I know she is in a better place, but because I miss her so much. She was my best friend.

      I look forward to following you.

    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 7 years ago from Michigan

      Thank you for your comment, Hospice Nurse's have a very difficult job knowing that they are going in at the end, and do their best to try and ease the passing.

    • PaulaHenry1 profile image

      PaulaHenry1 7 years ago from America

      Lovely Hub. Please feel free to read mine regarding how I was inspired to be a Hospice nurse. We have a lot in common- I will follow you and hub up!

    • susanlang profile image

      susanlang 7 years ago

      Sometimes every detail is not needed to get your point across. This is one of those times. However, if you feel like adding more, I'll be sure to come back and read it again. Still a wonderful read just the way it is! Blessings to you and your family.

    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 7 years ago from Michigan

      Thanks Susan, I appreciate the vote up! I had my Dad read it, he said I was missing a few details, he reminded me what they were, treatment etc... I told him that as I was writing it, I cried so hard it became my goal just to finish it. I then let him know as soon as I can I will revise it, for more accuracy.

    • susanlang profile image

      susanlang 7 years ago

      A Masterpiece of true expression, A devoted family full of love, A daughter who cared for mother even to the end of life as we know it here on earth. Excuse me while I get my kleenex box... beautiful. Rated it up!

    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 7 years ago from Michigan

      Thanks Blark! We did our best to make Mom's last days memorable not only for her, but us as well. It wasn't hard, for we love her dearly!

    • blark profile image

      blark 7 years ago from Minneapolis, Minnesota

      You have painted a lovely picture with this hub. Though it is a sad thing, I imagine that the coming together of the family during her last days filled her with joy.

      I love the paragraph near the end that starts with "I had some running around to do...". Very beautiful.