Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Bedside musings

Thanks to both Ellen in Conn and Karin for your kind words about my mom's illness and for your blessing of Peace. Actually, I've got a lot of that going down lately. Mom's imminent death is neither unexpected nor unwelcomed to some degree. She has had Parkinson's for a decade and in the past year has suffered additional neurological and cardiological issues, including an episode in January when we were all summonsed to her 'death bed' (only for her to snap out of a totally unresponsive state in about 4 hrs, after having been in a coma for 3 days). It was a trial run and I think we all had a chance to make our peace with her death then. Now the curtain's up for the real performance.

I've taken the night shift staying with her. It makes sense. I'm used to being up all night anyway, although I do doze off for little naps through the night. My father, understandably , is very upset with the pending loss of his life-long companion (next week will be their 49th wedding anniversary). My sister is much more useful at dealing with his issues and fending off the hordes of ever so helpful friends and neighbours who have the overwhelming need to "tell", not ask, about how things should proceed from here. I have no patience with this nonsense and Kelly is so very diplomatic, so my time is better spent with Mom. I knit and talk and she listens. We talk about textiles a lot. My mom was a very good textile worker and fearless in her project tackling capabilities. She was in her 40s when she went to the New Brunswick Craft School to study weaving for two years, just because she wanted to learn weaving. This was well before the day when mature/adult learners were commonplace in the classroom, but my mom was never one to let convention stifle her.

She knit and took up the crochet hook when she developed arthritis in her hands while still in her early 40s. She didn't bother herself with these silly assed granny squares...no, not MY MOTHER. Instead she crochetted a Queen sized bedcover out of butchers twine made into hexagonal pieces. It's gorgeous and it weighs approximately 5000 lbs. But that was my mom...go BIG or stay home.

Mom was 50 or so when she decided it was time to fulfill her life-long ambition of becoming a nurse and it was off to nursing school for her. She graduated and worked most of her career in the geriatric/rehab unit of the hospital where she is now dying. It's been an amazing thing these past couple of evening as I've sat by her bed, knitting away and reflecting on our life together. There's been a steady stream of nurses into the room, women she's worked with coming to say their goodbye to a much loved colleague.

Two things of the many I've learned from my mother have been foremost in my mind in the past few days. One is that age 40 is just the beginning of life, that there is no such thing as "too old" to learn a new skill or take on a new challenge. Second, I've come to realize how very proud I am to be Eileen MacKay's daughter. I may be losing my mother in the physical and temporal sense but the best part of her is blazoned on my soul and my character and that I have forever.


At 2:28 p.m., March 29, 2005, Anonymous Karin said...

How wonderful that you can spend this time with your Mom that way. That was actually my 'dream' of how it was gonna be when we got her diagnosis - ALS (which you'll likely know about with your Mom having Parkinsons).......but my Mom was very different from me, so the reminiscing at her bedside was not to be.

Liz - you're a good friend. No matter that they had a dry run - it will still be a time full of emotion and need. There, now I'm having a wee tear myself.

At 8:14 p.m., March 29, 2005, Anonymous Ellen in Conn said...

I am 45 and a new nursing student . . . Reading your story instead of doing my homework. Maybe it is the same, today.

At 6:34 a.m., March 30, 2005, Anonymous Ellen in Conn said...

Hi, Kate. Looking back over your posts, I noticed "Wifey" and want to tell you that we had a 78 rpm comedy record "back then" that featured a man being so polite and generous to someone on the bus and offering "you can have my wifey's seat".

At 11:36 a.m., March 30, 2005, Blogger Kate, the Odd Ball Knitter said...

giggles at Ellen's "wifey" comment...that sounds so exactly like Himself.


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