I just got off the phone with my dad. He had gone to see my mom today...as he does every day. Our conversation went like this:
Dad: Hello? (I could tell by the tone of his voice that it had not been a good day...I can't explain it...in just one word, I knew.)
Me: Hi Dad. You sound down...
Dad: Oh, I guess I am... (He never wants to just come out with what's wrong...I always have to pull it out of him.)
Me: What's wrong? (I always feel a sense of panic...oh my God...did he get hurt? Is he sick? Did something happen to mom or my aunt?)
Dad: I went to see your mother today and it was a disaster. (Now, I have to say...my dad has ALWAYS had a way of being dramatic that sends me right over the edge...)
Me: WHAT IS WRONG?
Dad: Well, I went into her room and she was just laying there...eyes closed...her mouth wide open. No matter what I did, I couldn't get her to wake up. (Background info...when my mother first became so terribly ill just before we realized we had to place her in a skilled nursing facility, she went into what the doctor's described as a catatonic state. She had a fixed stare, mouth wide open and could not communicate with us. The doctor's explained that she was still very much in there and was very much aware of everything that was being said around her...she just could not communicate with us. So...every time we see the mouth open thing, we freak out.) So, when I realized I couldn't wake her up, I ran down the hall to find a nurse. The nurse came back to the room with me and we got her to open her eyes but then she shut them right back again and then we couldn't rouse her again. The nurse said they gave her something for nausea...
Me: What drug did they give her?
Dad: I don't know...she told me what it was but I couldn't hear her. (My dad is deaf and wears hearing aids but unless you are looking right at him, he can't hear.) It just hurts me to see her like this...if her mouth hadn't been wide open, I would've sworn she was dead.
Having elderly family members on their own so far away is the most frustrating thing I have ever experienced. I want to be there to help them but I'm 4 hours away. And when I call the nursing home, I can never get the same person twice...they have no idea what I'm talking about when I call.
And, this is so hard on my dad...he's alone and I'm sure he knows the day is coming when my mom will pass. Why does the end of life have to be so hard?
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