Tag Archives: death

Volatility

Storm surges –
not knowing from moment to moment,
whirlwind tempests
stirring waters into choppy, cut-up waves,
slicing bodies into fragments,
buffeted by forces beyond control.
Death and despair,
pulling up roots,
pushed over by greater forces.
one by one the fortresses’ buttresses
fall, stone by stone
smashing on heads
bruising damaged minds,
praying for resurrection
in the wake of thunder’s heartbeat,
lightening’s spear thrusts –
how are we to bear up
to life’s dark furies?

Ending 2

She lies in bed
her life leaking out –
so fragile now.
Medicated for calmness,
slips in measured increments,
easier to move, manipulate,
a rag doll . . .
her life ticking away
moment by moment
as I sit and watch and wait
for the end of
a remarkable woman
who did  so much,
rose to such high levels,
and now a hollow vessel –
life measured
by the sound of her breath.

Palliative Care

Hospice – Palliative Care
slowwww ddownnn
No routine
Eat however much
whenever mood strikes
even though mood is a misnomer

No more struggling
to make walk.
Showers out
sponge baths in bed in
Hospital beds
Wheelchairs
Pureed foods
Lifts if necessary

Trips are gone,
body too fragile
mind largely gone
pay attention to face –
grimaces? Stop, ease off
smiles, try more activity

For caregiver, its harder
if you have been with patient
a long time
two people needed
when one sufficed before
for moving patient from one place
to another or
simply to change clothes in bed
Taking are of person
is challenging – at best.
new, different skills are needed.

Putting away items
not needed anymore
in a few months time,
she will pass into great beyond.
Little time left –
starting goodbyes
in minute gestures,
tears filling heart,
sadness lining body cavities

A magnificent woman,
broke glass ceiling
in world of Finance
now beginning new work
breaking glass ceiling
to Heaven . . .

Palm Sunday

Are my whispering doubts
just the after words,
diluted by time,
of the rabid crowds in
Jerusalem, spurred on by
wrinkled, threatened old priests
perhaps lessened or camouflaged
in time’s passing?

I waved my palm today,
trying to weave a cross
from the dried out grass,
singing of love and adoration
and pain . . .
his, not mine.

Had spouted statistics
of 31 deaths in Egyptian
Coptic Christian Churches,
with many more injured
and felt sadness, mourning,
but not depth of feeling
for the atrocity and its effects

I’m outraged and worn down
simultaneously, by all the
madness and cruelty in our world.
Nightly I pray that the evil ones
doing ordering or following
be so filled with loving kindness
that never again can they do harm
nor for those underneath
to respond back in rage.

What is enough?
Enough for me to do,
enough for the world to bear,
enough for the Trinity to react
as was promised?
Where and when will it end?
Or is it still in it’s infancy?

When do you say Goodbye?

She was by turns feckless or feral.
ferocious, fickle, self-centered.
Twelve years spent in her company,
unable to respond or defend.
captive, as she came to visit
several weeks at a time,
several times a year.

Schizophrenic, Bipolar –
voices keeping her company
more than her devoted husband.
Her only caregiver –
he wore himself down
to bare nubbins.
And I worry now he will soon
follow the same path.

She appropriated my life
told me there was a cancer in me
she had to cut out.
Humiliated me in front of family
relatives, her friends – while they lasted.
Spoke in a foreign language
my husband wouldn’t teach me,
about me, in front of me,
my knowing the words were directed ,
about me, in front of me.
Told my children she
was their real mother.

She died last night,
first came mourning,
now rage . . .
It’s been 20 years since I have been
her daughter-in-law,
since I have seen her except
when my children married,
or graduated from schools.
And even in these years I treated her
with a consideration and kindness
rarely shown to me.

This woman who made my life
miserable, terrifying, unstable –
who did so much to ruin my marriage –
twisting, turning truth,
confusing my children,
angering my husband so he wouldn’t
speak meaningfully to me for months.

Who twisted my children’s
understanding of Mental Illness,
refused medication or therapy,
made her husband of 60 years’
life one of horror and despair,
beating and berating him,
listening to those damn voices . . .

After all this time, and I mourn
for her, for my children,
for her husband and my ex-one.
Mourning the woman she was
and could have been
if she had accepted her diagnosis.

Listening to her voices . . . .
Still feeling a relative,
Mourning the loss,
even as the rage pours in.
Some nightmares you never forget.

Mom’s Death

As I stand here today, I can’t reconcile the fact that Mom has died With the woman I knew.  She was a force to be reckoned with, a force of Nature, and the quinticential  matriarch.  I hurtled myself at her thousands of times yet she stayed strong, unwavering.  A mother.  I didn’t realize how much I would miss her until now when its too late.  The woman I saw on Monday evening was not the woman I knew in this life.  Her essence was gone and we all know how much a woman she was. She gave me many things in this life – helped me when I needed, probably more than she should have.  She encouraged me to be a strong woman.  There was no way I \could fill her shoes – One sister is much better that. Two others still follow in her wake, – I was her antithesis.  But even in this I defined myself by her measure. My sisters, aunt and I stood around her hospital bed and solemnly sweared we wouldn’t followed the same health choices she did.  We agreed we would be closer to each other. Some of that has come true, some not.  After she died, I moved to California to be close to my children.  I just didn’t realize they would feel about me Finally, I realized I had to o back to Connecticut to be where family could help me out when needed and where I was wanted.   In the course of looking for a new apartment ,I stayed in my mom’s bedroom for two months. I saw her life and the things that comprised it.  My anger dissipated and we made peace.  It was a tough one – one I couldn’t have survived.  She was a remarkable, powerful woman and I had just been too angry to see.  I miss her but I think she might be proud of me now.

Life in Memory Care

LIFE IN MEMORY CARE

Within the Memory Care unit, life goes on. Maybe not as we know it or even as they knew it, but it is there. As we work with the residents, we know where they came from, the accomplishments they achieved, the people who made up their lives and they are filtered on, layer by layer, to the people they now are. It is regression and progression simultaneously.

They go through cycles – sometimes violent- sometimes sweet, caring, and kind. A lady I work with was a trailblazer for women on Wall Street and opened trade between Brazil and the U.S. She traveled to many parts of the world. The people from her life are devoted to her. They call a couple of times a week as they live 3 hours away. They take care of her needs even though they have medical challenges of their own and are taking care of their own parents. They worked for her and her husband for 30-40 years.

She is mostly a sweetheart. She may not know my name, but she recognizes me even though I might be her husband, am considered often a male, although I look nothing like one. She is trapped in her past childhood and marriage. A child of privilege and wealth, when she eats on her own, she takes “Debutant bites”, itsy-bitsy bites, the way she was taught when training for her “coming out”.

Last night we sat on her sofa, she leaned over and put her head on my shoulder as I rubbed her side, saying “I Love You”. Five minutes later I am toileting and underdressing her for bed. She snarls, “who are you. get away from me.” Then she stands up and has diarrhea all over her clean clothes and the floor. I get her cleaned up, bring her to her room, and she does it again. All in a day’s work. She can’t help it . . . doesn’t really know what is happening. It breaks my heart sometimes.

A wonderfully talented poet lives down the hall, an inventor the other way. Upstairs is a world-traveler writer, a professor of English and publisher of 30 books, a thoroughly obnoxious Broadway man . . . the list goes on. Many of those upstairs should be downstairs, their short term memories are so poor. There just isn’t enough room. Then there are the touching situations. One man feeds his wife, reads to her, cherishes her. A woman was a teacher in a one room schoolhouse.

There are so many wonderful people in Memory. Some have passed on and most times it breaks my heart. I hate this disease – either dementia or Alzheimer’s. It ruins the lives of so many gifted, helpful, generous people. But once in a while, it does an interesting trick . . . someone who was not very nice during their adult lives mellow, their edges fade. When you care for someone 24 hours a day, its a great thing.

The Right To Choose Suicide

THE RIGHT TO CHOOSE SUICIDE

Suicide evokes such a rash of feelings and jumble of thoughts in me. Nothing is easy in this arena. I have always been a firm believer in a person’s right to choose the time of their death, and in the past couple of years, I have been examining those values as my personal health issues have made me increasingly aware of my mortality.

When I was in college, my parents owned a residential home for the elderly. One of the women in the home, Marjorie, was a quiet woman, someone who held her own counsel. She shared the bedroom with another woman and we rarely heard her speak. It wasn’t that she was shy necessarily; just that she had an economy of language. She had been in the home for several years when she found out she had inherited a disease from her mother. The disease caused a slow and very painful death. Marjorie refused to accept those terms. She waited until she had a full prescription of her sleeping medication. During the two days before, she quietly went to each person in the home and let them know how much they meant to her. Then, she swallowed the entire bottle. When we woke the next morning she was gone, but she looked peaceful and had the trace of a smile on her face. We all respected her decision.

I fear I may develop dementia as my father had. I have no qualms about choosing to end my life before it gets too bad or I become a burden to my family. My children have a right to their own lives and having worked in Memory Care units and private duty care of people in the early, mid, and late stages of dementia, I know I don’t want a life like that. It’s a very hard, often long, way to go. I want my family to know me in better ways even though, as my daughter said, God will not except me in Heaven. To which I replied – then I will fertilize flowers right down here.

No one came to remember

She died one night
without warning,
no fan fare, the one time
in a harrowed existence
when silence reigned . . .

Mother of four,
wife to a shell, she fought,
scraped, strove to win wars
against innocent bystanders –
each carrying a glimpse
of a face who had wronged
her in a disturbed past.

The funeral was brief,
lasting no more than 15 minutes.
Even her children debated
whether they could spare
the time to attend.

Now she rests, finally,
a state sought fifty odd years
by all concerned
beneath poison sumac
in a removed corner
of some country cemetery
where few would go
to visit her remains.

The quest completed,
she’s no longer restless
her tomorrows are infinite
no more worry about bills,
callous children,
an inept husband.

After so many hard years
she is at peace, under the sumac
in a country cemetery’s dark corner
where none will go to
remember her . . .

Yet, none
will ever forget her . . .

 

 

Family Relations

IN THE FINAL PARTING

Looking back from this not so distant future,
The bed and its occupants glow –
All anger and distrust and hurt gone –
for now, this period of time;
gentle voices, soft laughter and tears mingle freely.
washing away old animosities at this time of parting.

In the face of the task –
to ease this frail, overused body
to relinquish its claim on the radiant soul within
all else fades

Caught up in the normalcy of daily living,
time rushes past and we fail to hear
the heart’s true message from one to another.

It is only in this parting, so full of pain and sorrow,
that such pettiness can be lifted.
His life was dedicated to healing hearts –
and in his final hours, he defies expectations,
and created a surcease of souls’ angst
intertwining embittered hearts and bringing peace.