Category Archives: Heart Disease

Death

Over the years my children have seen a lot of death, have been to one too many funerals, spoken at one too many funerals, and now again, someone close to them is dying.

We were extremely close to my mother’s side of the family. There was my grandmother’s sister, my Aunt Teddie, we watched her die in hospital from breast cancer. I would visit her daily and read to her, I brought my kids to see her frequently, the hospital setting never scared them because she was there.  Next was the little girl in grade six, she died unexpectedly during an operation, all my children were friends with her. The teenage boy, who was very young at the time, wasn’t sure if he wanted to walk up to the casket in the funeral home. I told him that was quite okay because she would know he was there with his prayers. As it turned out, all my kids went up to the open casket to say a few words, I found it hard watching them. My mother then became ill, undiagnosed stage 4 heart disease, they gave her a year to live. Mom was in and out of hospital, in a coma for months, resuscitated, sepsis, meningitis, were all the various things she dealt with while in coma. At one point, my grandmother mistakenly told us my mother had died.

I found my eldest hiding in her room crying – she would never cry at a funeral again, she was twelve at the time and exceptionally close to my mother.  Mom came out of the hospital and was with us for another nine months or so. The last time she went into hospital was very difficult, I was the last one to hear her speak and those words haunt me – she would not see her first-born grandchild, my eldest, walk down the aisle. Mom died just before the eldest graduated from grade eight.  A year later, my grandmother, who I loved far more than words could ever express left us. I cried, cried, and cried. I didn’t know there were so many tears in me. Ten months later, I had been trying all day to reach my uncle, my mother’s brother who we had always spent Thanksgiving with, but that year we were going camping, only to find out he had passed away unexpectedly. There, at a rest stop, all five of us, my husband, three kids, and I cried. We continued to the campsite, not knowing what else to do. That night, while standing around the campfire, instead of waiting for Thanksgiving day to arrive, we ate the two pumpkin pies I had made. We went home early, another funeral to go to.  Not much later, my father became ill, liver cancer. He lived out the last six months of his life with us. The eldest was now in grade twelve, dad missed her graduation. All three kids, the eldest, middle child in grade ten, and the teenage boy in grade nine were able to say goodbye to their grandfather at the hospital, he died the next day. Two years ago, my dad’s mom passed away, she was ninety-six, she had had a long life.

Present day, another loved one is terminally ill, and to be honest I don’t know if my kids can handle another death. Even though they are older, death is not easy and they have seen a lot of death.

My Mother’s last words to me.

I went to see her in the hospital, knowing quite well it would probably be the last time I spoke with her. I am sure she also knew this would be it, and with her last breath she said “I won’t see Genevieve get married. I replied, I know mom.” She fell asleep from the painkillers the nurse had given her. She lasted three days, never waking up again, my sister was with her when she passed.

It was a year before when I found out that my mother was ill. Being the oldest, my father had taken me aside and told me that mom had only a year to live, and oh don’t tell anyone. Don’t tell anyone? OMG, he’s got to be kidding, not tell anyone? How in the hell am I suppose to keep this information to myself. I mulled for days, then told my sister, she didn’t believe me but the information was correct. Mom had stage 4 Chronic Heart Disease. She was one of the women who had no signs the disease was slowly eating away at her heart. There was nothing anyone could do.

I don’t remember all that happened in that last year, but it started off with mom ending up in the intensive care ward, she had sepsis, meningitis, along with other things. We were asked what to do if she needed life saving measures, my father wouldn’t make the decision, it was left to us kids. Mom was now in a coma, and stayed that way for a few months. I visited everyday, brought my three kids, all taking turns talking to her. Funny thing is, she didn’t hear a word of it, because when she woke up, I asked her and all she remembered was the last words the doctor said “we’re losing her.” I didn’t tell my kids.

*Note: Mom has been gone quite a few years, but yet writing this brings tears to my eyes, it is hard to continue.

Mom finally left intensive care. When she first entered the hospital, my sister had started a log book, detailing everything the doctors had said. I am not sure why she did this or why she kept it on my mother’s bedside table, because mom found it and that’s how she found out she had a year to live. This was followed by days of more crying. Mom eventually went home but was no longer herself, the heart disease was taking it’s toll on her. She was no longer able to drive my kids to school, soccer practice, and spent most of her time in bed. My dad started filling in for my mom. He was the new grandma, driving my kids to and from school. It was probably best that dad started doing all that mom used to do, but it was still hard. Mom had always taken my son to his soccer practice and even today, if we drive down that street, he remembers, and will say grandma drove me here. He is seventeen now, and that was more than ten years ago.

The first time my kids found out that mom had died, she hadn’t. My dad’s mom phoned us and said she had died but was wrong. My kids completely lost it. We found our oldest hiding in her room crying. When mom did pass a few weeks later, my eldest didn’t cry, didn’t cry at her funeral, all the tears were buried deep, very deep.

Life did not get better for the next few years. Six months after my mother’s death, her mom died (that devastated me), then a year later, my mom’s brother died, again we fell apart. These were people we spent all our time with. Then, to make matters worse, my father got sick. Again, in and out of hospital until he moved in with us for his last six months of life (that’s a whole other blog story). Mom had died just before my eldest graduated from grade school, dad died just before her high school graduation. Graduation does not hold good memories for her.

My children do have good memories of their grandparents, though years later we really can’t talk about them.

Correction: I have been corrected by middle child, Grandpa attended the eldest graduation, he died just before middle child’s grad. Middle child spent a lot of time with Grandpa, when she was a toddler she was always outside helping him with his vegetable garden.  He had a lot of patience with her, teaching her how to correctly plant plants and waiting for her little hands to gather the dirt around the roots, the roots of life.