Heaven Help Us
By Corrie Lynne Player
I’ve been trying to consolidate my family history and writing files (we’re talking huge closets stacked floor to ceiling, as well as a bunch of banker boxes stacked in the car port). As usually happens, I spend more time reading things than actually organizing them. I came across this column that I wrote back in 2009. I shared my feelings about going through my mother’s final, wonderful days on earth.
Yes, it’s wonderful and joyful. I cry a lot, but the tears are part of the experience. Mostly, I tend Mama, with Arlene, my sister-in-law, at my side, and my daughter who lives nearby here several hours a day.
I laugh a lot, too, and Mama is alert enough to joke with us. We spend our time either puttering in her room, sitting beside her, smoothing cream on her skin, putting drops in her eyes and wiping her with a cool cloth. Sometimes, we read to her or just talk (we do most of the talking, but she understands, even though she can’t form the words).
The hospice nurse, Ethan, jokes, too. For example, he brought the alternating pressure mattress a couple of days ago. Katrina (the girl who rooms here to help with Mama), Arlene, and I were hovering nearby, because the hospice aid was showering Mama (who didn’t like it one bit).
Ethan smoothed out the wrinkles and held up two valves connected to the tubing. He turned to Katrina and said, “Are you here most of the time?”
Katrina hesitated and said, “Well, I could be.” She hesitated because she was getting ready to leave for an over-night trip home (she has her papers in for a mission).
Ethan solemnly indicated the valves, “Blow in each of these for five minutes at least every hour.”
Katrina swallowed and said, “OK, I’m sure I can do that, I’ll….”
Ethan interrupted her with a grin, “Gottcha!!!” And the rest of us cracked up; I said, “Serves you right, Katrina, you’re always playing jokes!”
I’ve known this day was coming since Mama moved in with us, but knowing that my mother would eventually pass away and realizing she is dying are two very separate and very different emotions.
When the rehabilitation center told me that Mama wouldn’t/couldn’t get out of bed to go to the dining room, I went right over. The Spirit whispered that Mama’s body may go on for a while, but her mind/self was slipping away. I made arrangements to move her back home.
I’m crying as I write this—I don’t want her to go just yet. The past six years have been wonderful: hard at times, but so worth the effort and puny sacrifices. I don’t want to go through all of this….I want to wake up and find out that, just like so many times before, she’ll come back to read, color, do a bit of latch hook and write birthday cards to her HUGE progeny.
The other morning, Mama woke up for a while. We talked about how she won’t be in pain after Daddy comes for her. I said, “You’ll be able to skip and run, and if somebody bumps you….”
She interrupted me with, “I’ll say ‘ow,’ but I won’t say ‘damn.’” I laughed and said, “You won’t even say ‘ow’ at all!”
As I arranged her pillows, I told her everybody was here for her comfort and that she only had to call to us. She plucked at the covers and said, “Where’s my phone?” I pointed to the microphone on her night stand and the receiver on my jean pocket and said all she had to do was call my name.
She responded with, “Corrie Lynne! Corrie Lynne!” Then she smiled and said, “Mama-Baby, too.”
She has repeatedly told me she wants me to hold her hand when “Clermont comes.” Arlene, Sherri, and I have talked about this being one of the most spiritual experiences we’ve ever had. While we’ll miss Mama, we will rejoice that she’s back with Daddy and her own parents.
This is an amazing time. The veil is thin and angels are in my house.