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Friday, March 10, 2023

How Hard It Is to Say Good-bye!

Part of the sorrow at losing a loved one is the sense that you could or should have done more. I've been there. My mom lived with us the last four months of her life and, after she died, I remembered all the ways I failed. She died in 2002 and I still tear up when I think of specific times when I could have done something differently or showed her better that I loved her. So I wasn't surprised to get the email below from my friend whose mother-in-law died on Monday. Please keep her and my friend and his wife in your prayers.

My wife is crying often. She says she thinks she could have done more. 

I've got videos from about 5 years ago showing Mom's visible decline in her physical & mental state. Mom's reasoning & mental acuity declined. As time went on very bad decisions were made with her Pekingese, how when and where she would walk him. Especially when Mom would walk the dog at 6 am, with cars on the roadway and darkness all about; not the best of decisions.  Mom would have obvious physical coordination problems, falling off the treadmill in the basement and never alerting us about it.  I can now assume Mom knew she had problems, but was afraid of the changes we'd have her make.  She'd walk up and down staircases arns full of stuff, walking like a 17-year-old with a devil-may-care attitude; knowing I'd enlighten her if I found out. 

Could we have done more?  There is always that probability.  We could have spent more time with Mom in our circle of two.  We all used to eat out on Friday's, spent too much time together as a threesome rather than a husband and and his wife enjoying very few hours together going anywhere.  
Mom was in her 70's when her daughter and I married, so I knew Mom would be living with us.  I could never let a parent be cared for by someone unrelated.  Parents care for us as infants; I believe it's my duty to care for my parents and inlaws when they age and revert mentally and physically. 
  I had a precursor for my taking care of Mom when I worked as a Free Servant with the Missionaries of Charity (MC).  I enjoyed every second (well, Almost every second) with the MC's.  I was honored by being the godfather to children born to the Street Girls, I was given the opportunity to feed, bathe, and clothe Aids patients and others needing assistance and kindness.  I was blessed by their Regional Superior in charge of the Western Hemisphere to buy reading material for the Order. So obviously GOD prepared me to assist my dear wife when her mother was in need of caring for and LOVE.

 My wife and I discussed her mother's care. Would we let others care for her or would we continue to do it together?  We chose together.  It was VERY, VERY difficult not knowing what to do, when to do it, and how much and how long.  This is MY reasoning for writing these hopefully somewhat cogent sentences. 
Taking care of another adult is very difficult and depending on their handicap, is challenging and time consuming.  Caring for someone, a loved one with Dementia, is a full time job for two people.  Feeding often takes hours because their refusal to eat and drink.  Bathing is hazardous for everyone involved. No shower chair is sturdy enough until safety dictates bathing in bed.  Toileting is difficult.  We all do it, but helping someone else, related or not, same sex or not, takes Divine Intervention.   
Yes, that's it, Divine Intervention.  God Wills it, therefore you do it. 
Nuff said.

When my dad died, I was almost immobilized by grief.  He was only 67. For six months I spent hours rocking my youngest who was two and crying. Rocking and crying. The four older children were in school. There was less pain with my mom after she died, because she lived with us for the last four months suffering from terminal cancer. I did a lot of my grieving as the disease took its terrible toll. But it's still hard to say good-bye, even when we know our loved ones was prepared with the sacraments and that their suffering likely eliminated or reduced their time in Purgatory. But we still live with the regrets: the "what ifs" and "if onlies." Jesus cried at the death of Lazarus even though He knew Lazarus would walk out alive from the tomb. May God bless our tears.

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