Wednesday, March 10, 2021
(This is the final “Parental Journal” entry for this blog.)
On Monday, March 1, I received my last kiss from my mom.
It was the first day visitors were allowed to schedule visits again, and I was on the books for a one-hour visit with Mom at 2 pm. I was contacted by two staff persons the Friday before because they wanted me to know that Mom’s decline had become more pronounced due to her not wanting to eat much.
At about 8:30 a.m. Monday, March 1st, I was called and asked if I could come “now.” Mom had had a difficult weekend. When I arrived, there were indications that her passing would likely happen soon, and the hospice coordinator confirmed this.
Mom was experiencing the expected agitation that often happens…pulling at her blanket, reaching out, moving her hand to her throat and then to her abdomen. At one point, I took her hand and she squeezed it. I squeezed back, and then when her eyes were opened a bit, I leaned over and said, “Hi Mom. I’m so glad I can visit you today.” I could see that she recognized either my face or my voice. She pulled our locked hands to her mouth and kissed my hand. “Oh…you gave me a hand kiss,” I said. “Thank you! I’ll give you a hand a kiss, too!”
Throughout the day and night, we would often hold hands and she would firmly bring my hand to either her mouth or her chest. I was thrilled because my goal was being realized: that I would be with her during her transition time and she would know she was not alone. I spoke to her frequently, hummed melodies, and played soothing meditation music to comfort us both. My hand rested on her arm, and I watched as she transitioned through the various stages of end-of-life breathing. Shortly after 6:00 a.m. on Tuesday, March 2…my birthday…I rang for the nurse and said I thought my Mom was gone. Her death was confirmed.
Personally, I thought it was wonderful that she transitioned out of this life on the same month and date she brought me into this life. Very cool, actually. Way to go, Mom.
I can see her blue eyes light up as she responds with a smile…”You’re welcome!”
Those who travel the journey of a long-term illness with their loved ones know that the grieving process begins long before the final days. This is especially true for families dealing with dementia/Alzheimer’s.
Being on this journey with Mom has been one of the most meaningful and profound experiences of my life, and I am grateful to have shared this time with an extraordinarily determined, witty, feisty, independent, and caring woman: Pearl Inez Leogrande. August 16, 1926 – March 2, 2021.