Friday, June 29, 2012


Cecil Brunner rose from my bush, taken from a cutting of Mom's on the ranch.
Her favorite rose bush.

Today, June 29, 2012, would have been Mom's 100th birthday. Until she fell and sustained a hairline fracture in her spine just after turning 91, she was aiming at reaching this day.

The fall changed all that...

 It took the Drs weeks to finally figure out that she was in so much pain because of the fracture they only found after an MRI. They never figured out a way for her to get real relief, because she was so sensitive to any kind of pain meds. They tried several over a period of 2 weeks, all of which sent her off into another world where she didn't know who or where she was and didn't know me at all. It didn't help that her personal physician went on vacation just before she was hospitalized. Her Dr. knew how sensitive she was to all drugs, but the attending Drs at the Med Center refused to listen to me when I told them she was sensitive and when they gave her morphine just before the MRI that found the fracture, she went on a trip that would last several days, and since the attending changed all her meds, we had to wait for her personal Dr to return from vacation to change anything back.

In the meantime, she was discharged from the Med Center, [they had diagnosed the problem...], and was sent to the Skilled Nursing at the Selma hospital, where she had to continue on too much of all the wrong things. She was so out of it that she kept climbing out of bed and falling so they arranged to transfer her to a facility for dementia patients about 10 miles away.

Through all this, I kept telling the nurse at Skilled Nursing that she had been fine until they gave her morphine and changed her blood pressure meds. I kept insisting that she had NO history of even confusion, much less the total trip she was on now, [she was mimicking folding laundry and didn't know me at all, as well as being nasty to the nurses...]and that the change in meds had created the loss of her mind.

Finally, the morning she was to be transferred, her nurse came to me and said that she had been late in giving Mom her meds the night before and when she finally got them to her, Mom was lucid. She had to administer the drugs, but she remembered what I had said and had put in a call to Mom's Dr., who had just returned from vacation. Mom's Dr. promptly changed the med order back to normal, so they were hoping for the best. I went on to the dementia facility to meet Mom's transport and I knew that she would be OK when she waved at me from her wheelchair.

She spent about 10 weeks there, doing physical therapy, determined to get back "home", which she did on my birthday, October 22, 2004. She stayed at the ranch, with a 24 hour live-in caregiver for the next 6 months; organizing, selling, giving away and packing the accumulation of several generations and a hundred years on the property, she was born on the ranch in 1912 and had lived there since. Her father built the house in 1907.

On April 1, 2005, I drove her out the driveway for the last time, on her way to her new home. A terrible, keening cry arose from her very soul and marked her farewell to the place she was so bound to. She was never quite the same. Her new home was good. She had chosen it. But the ranch was her heart and soul. She never got over having to leave it.

She had hoped for a while, right after the fall, that perhaps I would move back "home" and care for her, but we both knew that wouldn't have been good for either of us and, when a freak windstorm in early December, 2006, blew a spark from the road that ignited a major, rapid-moving fire that consumed the house and trees surrounding it in a matter of minutes, leaving nothing but some charred bricks and cement steps, I knew that if she'd been still living there, she probably wouldn't have gotten out.

She continued to have pain issues and became less and less mobile, eventually getting blood clots in her right leg that impaired the circulation. She also was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer around Christmas, 2006. When she developed a blockage in her leg in January, 2007, the Dr. told her that if she did nothing, nature would take it's course and she would die of gangrene in about a week... or they would have to amputate her leg, which would probably kill her. Then there was the cancer...

She chose the natural exit. She had lots of visitors from her church, friends and family. For a couple of days, her room was filled with smiles, laughter and joyful remembering. She didn't want a "death watch", so my brother went back to Seattle and I traveled back and forth, the 300 mile round trip, from Mudville to Selma, daily.

On her last day, January 17, 2007, they had upped the dosage of morphine so she wasn't talking, but she knew we were there. She smiled when her pastor prayed with her and when I kissed her feverish forehead and told her that I was going back home but I'd be back and that she could "go" whenever she was ready.

I hadn't been back home in Mudville 20 minutes when I got the call that she had slipped away.

I wasn't surprised.

Whenever I visited her, I always had to call as soon as I got home, so she could, "rest easy", knowing that I was home safe and once I was, this last time, then she finally,"went home" too.

I miss her every day, but I know that some of the hard things that I've had to deal with since her death, would have been very hurtful for her to have to see. One again, God's timing was perfect. She had a good life, some hard times along the way, but she got to dispose of all her property as she wished and her last week was just perfect for her. She got to say a real good-bye to those she loved. No many get to do that.

Happy Birthday, Mom... I know where ever you are, you're celebrating.

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