On New Year's Eve, at 11:40am, my mother finally gave up the fight for her life. I have mentioned her throughout this blog because she has been in one hospital or another since just before this blog was begun. Emmy Simmons fell over nothing at all on July 21 and broke her left hip. At the age of 86, most people would accept this was a death sentence. But not Mom.
After almost not surviving the hip replacement surgery due to complications of her congestive heart failure (CHF), she virtually bounced back! At one particular visit to the rehabilitation hospital about 2 weeks after the surgery, I remember the staff nurse chasing her down the hallway as she followed my grandson to the play area. Don't get me wrong, she was using a walking frame and moving at a snail's pace, but this was faster and more energetic than I had seen my Mom in years - honest! The nurse was only concerned that Mom would push herself too much and get too breathless (that old CHF again).
Literally the very next day we got a call that she had been sent back to Ayr Hospital and later learned this was due to an infection in the hip joint itself. Tuesday "running" down the hall, Wednesday - back in acute care, Thursday transferred to High Dependency, Saturday put on the Liverpool Pathway of Care for the Dying.......Monday woke up calling for me, transferred back to the orthopedic ward, where I spent 8 days sleeping on her floor and helping care for her. I stayed until she was well enough to irritate even me with her demands through the night because she was bored!
Bored! That meant she was getting better!
And she kept working at getting better, one step at a time, then 2 steps back. She got urinary tract infections, chest infections, shingles and a few other things. Luckily, no hospital acquired infections! Considering she was in one hospital or another for almost 6 months, she was extremely lucky in that respect.
Mom was discharged and sent home at the beginning of November, but only for 4 days. The medical staff did not realize she was now suffering from bleeding ulcers. Took us over a week to convince them Mom was not ever confused before and that there truly was something wrong. She did get her memory back, but not her energy.
At the end, it was Pneumonia that got her, like so many other elderly people who break their hip and end up in hospital....
Mom was valiant and gracious throughout this whole period. And we were blessed with many friends who took on regular visiting rotas to allow Alan and I some days off. This was much appreciated by both us and Mom. I think she really enjoyed seeing someone other than us!!
And when Mom chose to leave us, she picked a time when all the family was in town. My son lives and works in London and was scheduled to leave on the 1st of January. Everyone else lives nearby, but might have been working. Perfect timing, apart from the fact that I got norovirus and didn't get to the hospital when I should have because I could not move without being sick. That was when she passed away. Maybe it was meant to be, maybe we willed her to stay longer than what she would have chosen. I have to tell myself this, otherwise I will become heart broken that I was not with her at the end, after being with her at every other step of this journey.
Mom's funeral was yesterday and I have never been to a more lovely service. Our minister, who is also our friend, has regularly visited Mom in hospital and had known her through social and church occasions as well. Not only did he sum up her personality and spark, but he also incorporated my niece's planned eulogy for when we have a service for Mom in her home town in Belleville.
It was such a wonderful, interesting and uplifting service, that even I did not cry very much! And I am deeply grateful to Neil for captivating my attention at such a delicate time.
Why am I writing this tribute to Mom on my food blog? Because "Pat's Kitchen" would probably not exist if she had not insisted on helping us fund it. Mom lived with us and her "wing" was through the kitchen. She might even have wanted it jazzed up more than we did!
And she did get to see the finished product, when she came home for those 4 short days.
"A mom's hug lasts long after she lets go."