So much has happened since my last post.  My mom kept my dad home for another week, even though something clearly had broken in his brain.  He stayed up all night, every night, calling out, reaching for something on the ceiling, trying to get out of bed.  And of course, mom gamely "slept" next to him, telling him to settle down, keeping him in bed, not getting any sleep herself.  I went over there on Friday morning and her hands were shaking and she was gray.  I'm not ashamed to say I cried to make her call and get someone to come watch my dad at night that night.

So she got a good night's sleep, which was good, because the next day she decided to take him to see the doctor.  The doctor took one look and called the ambulance to take him to the hospital, where he had every test known to man and was finally admitted.  They never did figure out what exactly had happened, but he was just out of his mind.

Monday was the worst day ever.  I got there first thing in the morning, and he kept drifting off to sleep and then starting awake and screaming.  He wasn't making any sense, and when he wasn't screaming he was moaning.  I asked for help, and they started giving him medicine.  It didn't help.  I asked for hospice, and everything stopped.  Hospice? they said?  Yes, please, I said.  There's no hope, right?  This is the end?  And the doctor said yes.  So they started working on comfort measures, and he settled down and seemed a lot better.

My brother got there in the early afternoon and was horrified how much worse he was than the day before, and by then he was 100% better than he'd been when I got there.  By the time Mom got there he was peacefully asleep, and she decided that I'd been over-reacting and we shouldn't rush any decisions.  (argh!!!)

But after that he just didn't wake up again.  We had a meeting with the palliative care team on Wednesday.  Mom was thinking that dad was counting on her to keep him alive, so I dug out a letter he'd written years ago, and had witnessed, saying that he didn't want any extraordinary measures.  Then she started to worry about what the church would have to say about letting him go, and by great good fortune the parish priest stopped by for a visit.  He assured her that it was okay to let dad go.  She laid that down, then, and maybe she told dad it was okay, because he died the next morning, very peacefully, never having woken up again.

Nobody tells you how much work there is when somebody dies.  You have to go to the funeral home and go through the details and pick out a casket (and if you're mom you pick out the one you want in five minutes and then spend an hour worrying that maybe it looks cheap and what will people think). You have to go to the cemetery and figure out which plot you want, and then worry because maybe the headstones in front will block the view of the graves behind them, which I am still laughing about.   You have to meet with the priest to plan the funeral.  There's obituaries and eulogies to write, and mom to keep an eye on, because this is the very first time in her entire life she's lived alone, and the first time in fifty plus years she hasn't had to take care of somebody.  Emily needs to have a new dress for the funeral (of course she does -- also new shoes).  Danny needs a haircut and can't find any dark socks.  Etc.

All this during the very busiest time of the whole year at work, the time when I make most of the money I'm going to make this year.

My clients have been awesome.  My partners are helping me out.  My brothers and sisters-in-law are all pitching in.  And we're getting through it.

Tomorrow is the funeral and I need to give the eulogy without crying.  I've been practicing all day.

Dad's chair is weirdly empty when I go in the house.  It's going to take a while to adjust to this new normal.


  1. I'm so sorry for your loss.. its always hard, even when it's not unexpected..

  2. This is a beautiful post, Mary. How well I remember how surreal it is when a loved one dies. There is a lot of denial. This sounds like what happened with my uncle, and it was a massive stroke. He also ended up in hospice and was heavily sedated so he would stay "sleeping" instead of thrashing around and acting crazy. Hope you are doing OK, and your family also. xoxo


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