Sacred Times

Goldie
When our sister-in-law's father died, his family were all in the room with him at home. The hospice nurse was there. Though he was not responding anymore, his wife, children, and grandchildren talked to him and encouraged him on his journey. They sang Broadway show tunes as they had at many family gatherings for years.

Death has a mystical, spiritual quality and this makes us want to do it the right way. Anything less and it becomes a tragedy. I had heard so many wonderful stories like the one above and I wanted so much to help my Dad have a peaceful passing, surrounded by his family. Unfortunately, life doesn't allow us to write the script.

When Dad had become so weak, he needed help walking to and from the bathroom, I knew we needed to make some decisions. He didn't remember he needed help. My sister and I took it in turns to stay with my parents and listen for Dad. Often, he would make it to the bathroom before I woke up. I'd jump off the couch and grab the walker on the way. When he was finished in the bathroom, he would see me and, with a look of gratitude softening the lines of pain a bit, he would turn and sit on the seat of the walker. I'd push him back  to the bedroom, the walker facing backward, me leaning forward to stabilize Dad, my face against his, cheek to cheek, for a slow dance back to bed.

My brothers had gone back home. My sister was on a mission to try and find a place for both Mom and Dad to go together into a nursing home. She and I visited a couple of places. There was one place which had been recommended by friends and was not far from my parents old home and the church they had attended. My sister felt this would be a good place and we started the process of putting them on a waiting list. Then we talked with Mom. She was thrilled they could go together and be closer to their old home. I was wary. My sister was convinced this would work, but we hadn't gone through the PACE program, which managed their Medicaid. I was afraid we were jumping the gun.

My sister left for her home in California the next day.

We were jumping the gun. When I talked with the Palliative Care Nurse, she let us know that Mom would not meet the requirements for needing nursing home care. Dad might meet the requirements. He was still looking good enough and greeting people and even joking a little with them. His vital signs weren't bad for having gone through a recent bout of pneumonia. She wasn't sure he would qualify for hospice yet.

What we could do is admit Dad for observation - 5 days of respite care in a nursing home. After the 5 days, he'd be evaluated. The nurse started the paperwork and got in touch with the nursing home we had seen and we waited. On her recommendation, we also added a second nursing home possibility in case this one didn't work out. The second one was on the other side of town, but seemed very nice. When I visited, a resident came to me to tell me how much he loved living there. That helped.

The first nursing home never called back and never followed through with any of the paperwork. The second one had an opening and ... guess what? It was now up to me to talk to my parents and convince them this was what we needed to do.

(and onward.. )

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