Last days

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Last days

Postby afernando » Sun Sep 26, 2010 9:31 pm

I would like to share my last weekend with my mother though an email I sent to some friends..

Band mates,

Thanks for your prayers. We rarely share our beliefs, I know a huge reason I enjoy you guys is because you are all very spiritual people.
First I am so sorry I was not able to join you Friday. But Alfa told me everyone had great time.

A little story about this weekend. Please read when you have the time.

Some background:
My Mom has had terminal illness for almost five years but has been fortunate enough to stay in her house. We managed to find several nurse aides that we could afford and also have hospice check in on her.

After hearing very bad news about my mom from the nurse and my brother, last Thursday, at 5:00 pm I headed for my car and for New Rochelle, NY with only had the clothes I was wearing. I had all my music equipment in the back seat ready for Thursday's practice. After a detour at B&N, getting stuck on the red line for an hour, then driving for 3.5 hours, and picking up a pizza, I arrived in NY at 9:45 pm. My brother arrived from Albany a few minutes later. My sister, Anne would arrived later from Chesapeake, VA at 6:00 am.

At the crack of dawn, I went inside Mom's room and I played quietly: landslide, black bird and let it be. My brother joined us, and I got him to read Shel Silverstein poems with me to Mom. Then Chris headed off to the airport pick up our sister Mary from a fight from San Francisco. Peter (my disabled brother, living with my Mom), Anne & I decided to go to a diner, where later, all five of us would meet. Afterwards we headed back and spent about hour hovering over our Mother.

My Mom had PSP, a neurological disease that quickly takes away all muscle control. Over the last 4 years, we have watched her loose her ability to walk, then move her arms, then move her head, her eyes, speak, and finally not be able to eat or drink. But she has always been able to understand everything that was being said and happening around her. The disease is also painful because her muscles were continually contracting. In the end, her spine was crooked, her leg, arms, fingers, and toes were twisted and she was bent like in a fetal position. Although she had an oxygen tube around her nose, she had her mouth open, to breath. She had lost a lot of weight. She looked like a holocaust victim. She looked emaciated. Her bones were clearly visible. Her skin was thin and her finger tips black. She had red sores on her joints. And now her vision was being taken away too. Her eyes are half open and glassy.

But she could her us. And able to understand what was going on around her.

After about an hour, without much to do and from the shock of seeing Mom is such a horrible state, Mary, Chris, and Anne talked about heading out and went to the living room. I told them I would stay behind. Mary and Anne had not seem Mom is many months. Chris & I live closer and could visit every few months. I had just visited her last weekend and spent almost the entire day practicing guitar in her room and later reading poetry to her on the porch. At that time, she was able to see and enjoy the trees in her back yard.

So once again, I thought I would play for her; the same songs, all over again. But Mom always encouraged and enjoyed my playing. At least that is what she used to say. (As much as any Mother can enjoy listening to her child fumble and learn an instrument, I suppose.)

So I a started with Landslide. Then in rushed my sister Anne and after her surprise (that I could play Landslide), she started singing. She remembered all the words! And we laughed and I asked if we could try that again. Because I had had so much practice with Alfa, we were even better the second time. Then Chris and Mary came back in and I played Let it be and Anne sang along with that too. Then I asked if she could try "Here comes the sun". And that was wonderful. Even Mary and Chris started singing. Then we looked up the words for "It don't come easy" and everyone joined in. Then Anne wanted to sing Landslide again with Mary. We all laughed. Finally I pulled out our play list and showed it to them. We did: crocodile rock, Sgt pepper, little help with my friends, and tracks of my tears.
A friend of my mother called, to let us know she had made food for us. So Mary and Chris went to pick it up . But Anne stayed and we continued with: blue bayou, you're so vain, wild night, stairway to heaven, and white rabbit (I had my loop pedal, so I recorded the bass intro and played over it; not great, but did it the job).

My Mom got a little concert from her children! Completely unexpected.
Randy, I would not have learnt these songs if not for joining the band you started. Alfa, I would not have been able to harmonize with Anne without our hours of practice. I would not be the guitar player I am right now if not for all of the time I have spend with you all. The moment my family had would not have been possible a year ago. And I would not have had all that equipment in my guitar, ready to use, if I was not planning to go to our practice.

Like threads in a tapestry we all effect each others lives.

Thank you

Thank you for being apart of a such a special, wonderful blessing for my Mother's last few days on this earth. She passed away the next evening. But not before enjoying such a unique treasure from her children.

I think the music was also a catalyst for what happened the following day. The next morning she was briefly energized and little of her eye sight came back. We could see her trying to focus on us. That allowed us to take her outside to her porch, where for a few hours, she was able to be outdoors and see all her children together, one last time.

She pasted that evening.

See you all soon!
Take care.

PS
Ruth, your CD was such a precious gift! I am so fortunate to be getting lessons from you!
afernando
 
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Postby Robin » Sun Sep 26, 2010 9:59 pm

My condolences on your loss.
Robin
 
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Postby ckiefer » Wed Sep 29, 2010 1:23 am

Simply lovely!

As the mom of a musically gifted son, I can tell you what a wonderful gift you all gave your mom....she must have felt sheer joy having you all there to entertain and delight her......what a lovely, lovely gift.

Thank you so much for sharing.
Diagnosis of PSP November 9, 2007
Age at diagnosis 59
ckiefer
 
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Postby dadscare » Thu Nov 04, 2010 6:41 pm

Thank You For sharing..!
So Sorry for your Loss....Yet what a Blessing the Music / Singing was..
My Father age 82 passed away September 2010 had probable PSP
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Postby Moderator » Thu Nov 04, 2010 7:20 pm

Yes, a wonderful send-off by a courageous, faithful, and appreciative mom. Thank you for taking the time to share the uplifting details.

ed p.
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