On Saturday, I got a call from my sister Barb. It was the call you tell yourself is never going to come — or you convince yourself it’s so far out there in the future that you can safely keep it out of sight and out of mind.
My 86 year-old mother Grace was in the hospital, and it was deadly serious. Remnants of denial caused me to not even think about bringing overnight clothes until I was two-thirds of the way from Cincinnati to Columbus.
Mom’s temperature had hit 104 degrees overnight. She was rushed early Saturday morning to the emergency room and then to intensive care. The medical staff successfully stabilized her. Already quite frail before all of this occurred, she was now critically weak, kept alive with the marvels of modern medical technology which have advanced so impressively in the 14 years since I last watched them in action.
The first 24 hours would tell the tale, but Barb and I knew, barring a miracle — something the ardently Catholic Grace Blumer could have conjured up if anyone on earth could — that Mom’s time on earth would soon end.
A friend told me a story some time ago and repeated it when I called him Saturday. His late mother had been in a coma and came out of it several years before she finally passed. Thinking it was the end, he and his wife said the things they felt needed to be said. His wife even sang silly songs to lighten the moment. When his mom fully awakened, she was able to recite every word and lyric each of them had uttered.
Mom knew that Barb and I were there. She couldn’t talk because of the tubes in her mouth, but she responded to our voices and squeezed our hands when we held hers.
Sunday morning, the doctor told us that even the most heroic of life-saving efforts were overwhelmingly likely to go for naught. We were confident that our father and her husband Tom was in Heaven saying, “I’ve waited 14 years, one month, and 16 days to get her up here with me. That’s long enough.” Barb, who has been Mom’s heroic medical system and living arrangements shepherd for so many years, had the nurses disconnect the life-support systems. A short time later, Mom passed away peacefully.