The Final Gift: Elizabeth L., April 1933 – 14 August 2015

ma-and-meMy mother passed yesterday, 14 August 2015, at 2:05 pm. She was 82 years old, same age as her mother was when she passed. 6 August was the day which would have been her mother’s birthday. 9 August would have been her husband’s birthday. 15 August would have been her father’s birthday. Leos galore. I like to think that they would have one big combined birthday party that runs from the 6th to the 16th, and I hope that she’ll be welcome.

On 13 November 2014 I had surgery to remove a slow growing, but malignant lung tumor (adenocarcinoma lepidus). It wasn’t bad, my worst pain and discomfort was the skin reaction to the glues of the bandages, but I was supposed to be careful when lifting anything. On 26 November I got a phone call from the day program my mother attended. They said “Your mother can’t walk and the Handi-Dart (transit system for people who have difficulties using regular transit) won’t take her. Could you come get her?”

About a month earlier I had taken over the apartment next door but seven steps down, intending to fix it up for her to live in, but possession date wasn’t until 1 December, so it wasn’t ready for her. So I moved her into my already very crowded one bedroom apartment (that also was my studio space) with me. I am an artist who makes things, so I have a lot of stuff in my studio waiting to be used when making something. What with all the stuff and the benches and desks and computers and printers and us two, it was a little bit crowded, but fortunately, because I sleep in a big comfy chair, she could have the bed, so we were able to manage quite well.

She was quite weak when she came to live with me, unable to dress herself and needing a lot of help getting in and out of bed, and over the next two weeks she got less able, I had to lift her when she wanted to stand. 12 December she had an appointment with her vascular surgeon who noticed that her heart rate was 31 beats per minute. Normal heart rate is about 60 beats per minute, so she was admitted to the hospital. In the hospital they figured that her kidneys were not clearing the atenolol (blood pressure med) from her system and so the atenolol was concentrating and slowing her heart more and more and more. They took her off the atenolol and her heart rate slowly went back up. They kept her in hospital until 2 January.

After she came home from hospital she seemed stronger – able to dress and stand and walk using her walker – ad she got stronger. I had hopes that she would be able to walk without her walker. Several friends helped me to get her apartment painted and ready for occupation, and in February she and I moved down the seven steps to her apartment next door to mine. When we first moved down to her apartment I was still relatively free to go out and do things (albeit mostly things related to her care and upkeep). One day I came home to find her sitting outside in the sun; it made me happy to see her enjoying her new situation.

outfitSoon enough though, she stopped going outside and went only from her bed to the washroom to her chair across from the tv to the counter where her water container sat. Then came the day when she stopped leaving her bed, except to use the toilet. Then came the day when she needed help getting into and out of her bed. Then came the day she stopped eating much more than a few mouthfuls. Then came the day she stopped drinking much more than a few sips of water. Then came the day, 14 August, she stopped everything and left. Two hours later they removed her, feet first and face covered, and in the evening I moved back to my apartment and studio seven steps up.

Patrick came over the next morning and helped me choose an outfit for her that would work regardless of what was coming. Jo came over that afternoon and helped me coordinate accessories. I am grateful to have good fashion consultants.

My friends tell me that what I did for her, dedicate the last 8 1/2 months to caring for her and enabling her to die at home, as was her wish, was a great gift, and those who knew her pretty well tell me that she knew what a gift I had given her. I confess that the last few weeks have been really difficult, and I couldn’t have gone on much longer. I had been having to do more and more physical stuff, helping her into and out of her bed so that she could use the commode, moving her on the bed (because she could no longer move herself), changing her clothes, feeding her, and general fetching and carrying.

I drove to Richmond today to have supper with my Auntie Ann and Uncle Doug (her youngest brother). At one place, Number One Road and Blundell, I always used to ask her if we were going the right way, and she would always know. She was my navigator, my copilot, and I miss her.

locketAmongst her bit and bobs I found a heart shaped locket without a chain. I looked through my jewelry box and found an unused chain which I put the locket on. Then I found a Foncie’s photo, taken on Granville Street, of her and my father in their early days, looking happy to be together, and scanned it and shrunk it and printed it. Then I found a photo of me as a toddler, and scanned it and shrunk it and printed it. Using tiny scissors I cut these tiny photos to fit in the locket, which I shall include with her body when it goes for cremation. The final gift I give to her.

~ by thiscassandra on Monday 17 August 2015.

4 Responses to “The Final Gift: Elizabeth L., April 1933 – 14 August 2015”

  1. I’m so sorry for your loss — hope you are okay and have some local support.

  2. Hi S., yes, I am okay and have lots of local support. Thanks for asking. Looks like you and RCA are doing well. tC

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