Friday, May 27, 2011

Goodbyes and the Inevitable

This has been a rough week around the Ultra household. My great aunt passed away yesterday morning after being moved to Hospice Tuesday from an assisted living facility. I have posted about her earlier and the way her family treats her. Not saying she wasn't a handful herself, but she, anybody, deserves better. She had a rough life all the way around. An alcoholic husband. Living in a rented house, by the kindness of family friends for only $40 a month. No retirement of her own except social security and money from the Army from her oldest son that died in Vietiam. She had lost the ability to take care of herself. She couldn't half see, bathe, cook, clean or walk without support. I'm sad she had it so rough, but in all honesty, she wanted everyone to take care of her. For most of her life she had her wish. I spoke with my mother briefly this morning to find out about services and such. I neglected to ask if her son, daughter in law or her two grandsons were present when she passed. I have a feeling she died alone. So sad.

Also, Tommy's mother is in very bad shape suddenly. She is 85 years old, but until the last couple of weeks, seemed to have few problems health wise. When Tommy visited 2 weeks ago (like he does every week), she mentioned some lumps on her back that had suddenly appeared, as well as being very weak, tired and no appetite. Last week he took her to the doctor to have them removed and biopsied (he had one sister die of breast cancer last year) and a general check up. Turns out they are a form of aggressive cancer. He said there were about 5 or 6 of varying sizes. ***It has turned out to be far worse than expected. Hospice has been called in and he has taken a leave from work to be by her side.***

I want to comfort him in some way. I just don't know how or what to say. I haven't lost a parent, while he has already lost his father years ago. I have experienced many losses but none as close as a parent. The sadness emanating from him is overwhelming. I wrote the last two entries with him in mind. I've thought of passing copies to him, but not sure how they will be received. I just want to hug him till everything is all better. I wish it were that simple.

My father went for his check up today. His lung capacity is down to 15% now. He is constantly on oxygen. A new medicine, some inflatable jacket thing that suppose to help him breathe, his adjustable bed and lord knows what else. My mother ordered a wheelchair to help get him to and from doctor's appointments. (Since the first of the year, between the two of them, they have had over 100.) She has also requested my schedule to set up appointments so I can be there to help get him to and from the doctors on my days off. She just can't do it on her own any more. He talks a lot about things he wants to get done before he is gone. What he hopes for after he is gone. In between gasping and coughing when he takes the oxygen tube off. It breaks my heart, but I know it is coming. He knows it's coming. My mother knows it's coming. I'll be strong for my mother, some how.

I know that this happens day in and day out all over the world to people and their families in varying degrees. I always knew that my parents would never live forever either. Nobody does. I always expected my father to die in his sleep from a heart attack, not cancer or emphysema. (the latter appears to be doing him in more so than the cancer at this point.) I don't think my sister truly understands the gravity of their health issues. Nor the stress it puts on me. It doesn't matter though. I'm gonna do whatever it takes to make sure neither has to go to an assisted living center or that they die with strangers or worse alone. Not as long as I, myself am breathing.


Ur-spo said...

I want to comfort him in some way. I just don't know how or what to say.

This my dear is the universal worry of us all. Words are usually lame and useless. So just be there for others. Let them talk, ask what you can do (including small stuff) that is what iswhat you can do.

Good luck.

Russ Manley said...

Bless you buddy. You are going through what happens to all of us eventually. Death is rarely pretty. But at least you have time to say goodbye. Not everyone gets to.

Sean said...

I'm sorry for you loss. Please remember to take care of yourself, you won't be able to help if you don't.

Cubby said...

You and your family are in my thoughts, David.

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