My mother lived August 24th, 1920 to October 29th, 2007
Miriam, Robin, and my father John Glover
The last picture of the three of us taken together, August 29, 2007, exactly two months before she died.
Picture taken October 10, 2007; just over two weeks before she died.
That same day--October 10, 2007--with her brother Bob.
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My mother passed away on Monday October 29, 2007.
The last year of my mother's life:
My mother was certified legally blind on January 2, 2007 after many years of declining vision and operations. "Legally blind"--Well she couldn't watch television or read anymore but she could see slightly. This became worse over the rest of the year and it ended up I'd be telling her what was on her plate. "The potatoes are from 8 to 10 o'clock, the peas are at 12 o'clock, and the meat is between 3 and 7 o'clock". She didn't go blind all at once so I was able to keep reminding her things like "Now remember there are seven steps from the porch…now feel the ball at the end of the railing; that means there's only one more step". At the bottom she'd then slide one foot forward looking like a Fred Astaire soft shoe to check for anymore steps. I was ready for the challenge. I'd cut my hours at work so I'd be home at 5:00pm to make supper for them and I was off on weekends and Wednesday's.
In October we had a very hot Thanksgiving weekend (the 6th to 8th) and my mother complained about the heat and how hard it was to breathe. She was right! We shouldn't be getting this warm weather this late in the season but with global warming, we better get used to it. A few days later the temperature dropped but she was still complaining about it being hard to breathe. She was falling asleep at the table and not eating much. We resolved over the next weekend that we'd go Monday morning to the doctor or the hospital. When that morning she could only get halfway down the steps from the bedrooms, I ended up turning it into an ambulance call. The paramedics then came and put an oxygen mask on her. They gave me a choice of two hospitals. (I'm now glad she was too weak to get into my car or I would have driven to a hospital that may have been full). Sunnybrook was close by and the place she has her eyes checked twice a year. My father and I drove the hospital soon after and waited. We found out my mother had heart failure and fluid was draining into her lungs. The emergency staff was able to clear her lungs and get her heart rate back to almost normal. Then they said she was suffering from delirium. That's a condition where a person's confused and is explainable because of my mom's advanced age-87, the shock of what had happened to her and her blindness making it difficult to realize what was happening. They were asking questions about what her name was and what day of the week it was and she was answering OK. By the next week I got her eating again especially after they started her on intravenous and a mineral intravenous. I was taking time off work and going twice a day to try to hit lunch and supper. The therapists came in and were discussing a recovery program. Then on the weekend of the 28th and 29th my mother took a turn for the worse. She couldn't poop anymore. The hospital staff tried laxatives and an enema but the food must have been too far up her body. The last two days it looked like she was going to have a baby-well maybe that is an exaggeration. She was put on a full oxygen mask respirator because she had a shallow shortness of breath. The specialists were ready to try to do something else to clear out her stomach on Monday but we were warned she may not make it and it may be just a few more hours to live. I went home on Sunday at about 7:00pm and we got a telephone call at 1:15am that she had passed away.
I was grateful and I think she would have been too that it was a 'short' illness. Her parents had long suffering with cancer. If she had died suddenly on the staircase that day while we waited for the ambulance I think I would have been upset for the rest of my life. This gave me some time to prepare although it was still a shock because the hospital was already planning therapy.
I remember she said earlier this year for me to 'look after your father'. "Yes I promise". We plan on staying in the house where I've lived all my life. I was off the two weeks she was in the hospital and a week and a half after she died. I'm watching to see how my father takes all this. He's such a quiet man but we both miss her so much. [My father walks with a cane but for longer distances uses a wheeled walker].
I also thanked everyone for coming out and asked them not to forget us (my father and me). This was the only time my voice broke. There would be no burial right now. Her ashes may be buried on an anniversary or her birthday.
The last five paragraphs of this message I more or less outlined as my speech before the minister did a summary of her life and read some prayers in his sermon.
I organized the whole funeral except that my mother said she wanted to be cremated. We had been to a neighbour's funeral a few months earlier and thought it was well run so I chose their facilities. I summarized the last month of her life much the same as the last four paragraphs above before the minister did more of a summary of her life. I phoned everyone I could find on our Christmas list and knocked on some neighbours' doors to let them know. We had nice turnout of family and friends. I had taken in a CD disk and got the camera store to print out dozens of pictures of three different shots. One was the last one taken by a family friend exactly two months before her death and is the last one ever taken with the three of us together. I gave out two others of pictures taken October 10th…just two and a half weeks before she died when I drove my parents and my aunt to visit their brother in a hospital where he's suffering from Alzheimer's. She doesn't look at all sick and no one would know she's blind. I thought it was great way for people to remember by giving them pictures of her.
I made another visit to the hospital later in the week to cancel an appointment for her eye checkup and try to get some records of her actual cause of death. I may have to wait a month for that and had to pay $25. On my walk through the hallways I said thanks to some of the staff for their care and happened to see the specialist coming out of his office. He said his feeling is she actually died of pneumonia because of the final respiratory problems.
Goodbye for now.
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