Every time I go visit my 92 year old mother and see how her health is deteriorating, I go through a full range of emotions. When I first saw her, lying in bed, it was shocking. She was thinner and her face was almost caste in stone, mouth open, nose flared, skin drawn back. Her body was curled up as she took occasional, non-rhythmic deep breaths. My brother was at her side, crying because she wasn´t eating. I rubbed her feet and she looked up and seemed to recognize me.
Over the next few days, she started eating again and sitting up. She even said a few words.
Yesterday, I sat singing her an old hymn she always sang to us as children. Remarkably, she started singing along with me. Tears flowed down my cheeks but I wasn´t crying. When I mentioned what happened to my sisters, they said this happens sometimes. Her condition ebbs and flows.
My sisters and brother don´t see how much she has deteriorated. I go down to S.A. once a month and each time, it is worse and worse.
Seeing mom this way overwhelms me. I start thinking of my own mortality after a few days. Are these the choices we have? Old age/ poor health or dying? That doesn´t seem like a good choice.
In the evenings, as my sisters, their children and I discussed mom´s condition and mortality, my nephew said, “I hope I die before that happens.” He wasn´t joking. Someone else said, “Let me die in my sleep.” “Eighty isn´t a bad age. I want to die then.” Soon all chimed in, they wanted to die younger and healthier than mom.
Old age is not for the faint of heart. Do any of us really want to get there knowing what happens? All of us boomers are going to face this soon. I think it is a pretty scary thought.
Peggy Lee sure had it right: Is That All There Is