On Friday night, late, Mama came to the hospital with a UTI, pneumonia, and sepsis. In the wee hours of Saturday, she had to be resuscitated twice and was put on a ventilator.
She is not in a coma, but she is not all the way here or all the way on the other side, either.
My brother and I made the difficult decision to have the ventilator removed and for her to go on comfort care, which is exactly what it sounds like it is.
There is no telling how long she might be in this state – it could be hours or days.
Some of you also know that Mama has been suffering with dementia for several years, during the course of which her very vivid imagination spun out stories beyond our wildest dreams – funny stories that sounded true, up until the point where it all just went off the rails.
This woman in this bed is our mother, but she is not our mama. Our mama is brilliant and does her taxes (the long form!) in ink and creative and can make anything out of a handful of raw ingredients as varied as a Coke bottle, a piece of screen wire, and a light bulb.
She has used more than her fair share of felt and she never met a can of spray paint she didn’t love.
She is an enthusiastic beginner of flower beds and has baked and decorated cakes that people still talk about decades later. As long as she lived at home, there was always a white-frosted sheet cake, in the freezer, ready to be decorated, just in case.
Her sense of humor is sly and dry, and upon being startled, she comes out with colorful exclamations, my favorite being, “My butt just swallowed my underwear!”
She is married to the love of her life, Bill Coward (fourth time’s the charm!), and she will make her grandchildren Rice Krispy Treats on demand.
She has made so many cheese straws that she figured out how many inches of cheese to cut off a giant block to make a pound. She catered her own wedding because she just knew if anybody else did it, it would be “tooty,” whatever “tooty” is.
Our mama can turn you sour with a glance, and if fact, she just gave me one because she thinks I’ve put her in the nursing home. She has a knack for voicing her displeasure and she holds us to the same high standards she holds herself.
I have never seen her not help someone who needed it, and I have seen her help many, many people who she didn’t know and who had no way of knowing she was the one who helped.
She is a voracious reader and can ignore anything if she’s in the middle of a book, except for the sound of a corn chip being crunched, which she cannot abide.
Mama is a piano player, having learned as a child from her aunts and then saving up to buy her own piano. We could always tell what kind of day she had had by how many times and how fast she played “The Entertainer” in rapid succession.
Even through dementia, she has never lost the ability to read music and play flawlessly from memory; she played the day she had to come to the hospital.
We hope for peace for the rest of her journey.
My personal hope is that Tom Petty is there, his smirk matching her smirk, and asking her to be in his band.
I guess now I’ll never know if a cat has a running gear.