Some of you may recall the blogs I wrote on my Mom and Dad a couple of months ago. In the last one, my Mom was in Hospice, and my Dad was in rehab. My parents live locally in Davie.
Well, my mother, Rose Meister, passed away on September 3rd, at the age of 90. And, now, believe it or not, my Dad is on hospice. So I find myself, an elder law attorney – again – in the position of so many of my clients.
My mother’s death was hardly a surprise. She had been failing for years, and she had spent four months on hospice. And I had actually been mourning her (impending death) for years, as well. I can remember vividly the time it first hit me.
My son Danny, now in law school, used to love Grandma’s chicken cutlets. Once, about seven years ago, he asked her to make some for him. And her response sent chills up my spine.
“I can’t,” she said to Danny. “I just can’t.” For this woman, who loved to cook, it wan an admission that she just wasn’t up to it anymore. I knew then that she was failing. And that’s when I started to mourn her passing – seven years before she actually passed.
It was hard watching my son – who has already lost his father – dealing with the death of his grandmother. And it was tough watching my niece – who has already experienced several losses – going through this one, as well.
These days, I seem to drive past many things that remind me of her. And I seem to always think of questions I wanted to ask her, but can’t. In fact, I can’t ask those questions to anyone, because she was the last family member of her generation. She comes back to me at the strangest times, in life’s little vignettes…for example, at the doctor’s office, when I have to fill out a form asking for the names of my parents; or when I look at her Durable Power of Attorney and Living Will and know that I will and can’t ever use them again.
To be honest, I’m also feeling, these days, a sense of relief. Relief that the long downward slide, the long-term care journey, for her, is over. Relief that she – who had deep fear of death – never really understood that she was dying. Relief that she died peacefully, in no pain, without being force-fed by medicine or that would only prolong her – and our – pain.
And relief that she simply died of old age – not disease – and with dignity, in the comforting setting of hospice.
Now, more than ever, I can really identify with my clients.
Alice’s Mom and Dad, Part 3: My Mom Is Gone