Making sense

Anne Lamott, on writing ...

"We are a species that needs and wants to understand who we are. Sheep lice do not seem to share this longing, which is one reason why they write so little. But we do. We have so much we want to say and figure out.”

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Going gently into that pecan-pumpkin good night ...

My mom is still hanging on.
Here in my dining room, she lies in the hospital bed, sleeping 20 hours of every day, waking to try to toilet herself ("Mom, you have to let me know before you try to use the commode!") or to ask for a piece of pie. Since coming here, she's consumed an entire pecan pie ~ one tiny slice at a time. She's now eaten half a cherry and pumpkin pie.
In thirteen days she's eaten two turkey sandwiches, some French toast, three slices of bacon, and twelve pieces of pie.
I am reminded of what my diabetic grandmother said in the weeks preceding her death: "If I can't have pie, then I don't want to live." She meant those words.
And so history repeats itself. At times I want to withhold the pie, say No, Mom, you need to eat something more nutritious, but then I remember what her hospice nurses have said: "It's about quality, not quantity."
It's no easy feat watching your mother waste away; it's hard to hear her talk nonsense as her cognition fades; it really sucks to have to empty one, two, three ... eighteen ... thirty-six commode buckets.

Death is not pretty here in this house. It smells bad and there's lots of moaning. Yesterday Mom cried, but I cannot remember why. She had a very good reason, but I am so tired from the caregiving that my own cognition is fuzzy. Lack of sleep. Tending to a dying parent is like having a newborn in the house again, only far more depressing.

It is not easy as pie.


Susan said...

Dear Kate ~

Having just experienced this a year and a half ago, your words conjure vivid images of commodes and nonsense-talk and exhaustion - they also remind me of the honor of accompanying a loved one in their life transition. I agree with your mom (and grandmother) - let there be pie... and let there be peace for all of you soon... <3

Bee said...

Oh, Kate. I'm so sorry.
My mother-in-law is dying of pancreatic cancer right now. It has completely overshadowed the last 4 months of our life. She hasn't even been able to keep down water this week. I think what I'm trying to say is, "If you can still eat pie, why the hell not eat as much as you can manage?"