I got a call from Jerilyn, my mom’s hospice social worker, in the second week in December, letting me know that my mom’s condition had been stable for six months, and she was no longer eligible for hospice services. Hospice coverage was to end on December 18th, and Jerilyn said she’d be sending me papers to sign. My mom was becoming anxious about this change; she’d grown attached to Jerilyn and to some of the other hospice staff who worked with her, and was afraid that not having this additional care would send her back into the abyss. But Jerilyn told her she would still stop by to visit with her, and the main difference would be that she wouldn’t need to keep notes about their time together. By the time Jerilyn called me, my mom had begun to accept the situation.
Though my mother’s mood is a lot better, and her appetite GREATLY improved – Jerilyn told me a couple months ago that she was routinely cleaning her plate at many meals – she still gets out of bed only rarely. But she did get out of bed on Christmas and was brought out to the nurses’ station to talk with me on the phone. I called and the aides were busy, then called back but they were still looking for a chair for her to sit in while she talked with me. We were leaving to bring Sue to the airport, and I didn’t think I’d be able to call back. Just a few minutes later, my cell phone rang: my mom was at the nurses’ station ready to talk with me, so the nurse called me back.
My mom was very emotional for the first couple of minutes, and said that she missed my dad. But then she settled down, and we had a very good talk. She asked how Sue was doing, and said she knows how it feels: “It’s hard to be alone.” I told her a little about GriefShare, and how I’d talked about Da’s death in there more than about Papa’s death. Grief has a way of hanging on, and then cropping up even years after the loss occurs. I was impressed that my mom was asking about others – a very good sign, because in her deepest depressions, she can only see her own difficulties. (That’s probably true for most people in the well of darkness.) I promised that our Christmas card and a few new photos HAD been sent, and she should get them in a day or two. She was looking forward to that. We talked a little over 15 minutes, then said goodbye. It’s been a very hard year, but my mother is better. She is eating, and she is not dying. May 2009 be brighter for her.