Remembering My Parents
My mother was an absolute 10 when she was young, and I don't mind saying that I don't hold a candle to her. One fateful day as she walked down the street with her friend Mary, looking for Mary's boyfriend, a dashing fellow drove by and Mary yelled, "Hey, Jake, have you seen my Buck?" Jake stopped, instantly mesmerized and said, "No, but hop in girls and we'll go looking for him." Apparently, my mother hopped in and never hopped out, beginning a love (at-first sight) story with my father that would span more than sixty years.
Once as a young adult, as I struggled to sort out my own love life problems I asked her, "Mom, how long were you deeply in love with Dad? I mean, how long did your heart just skip a beat every time you looked at him?" She smiled fondly recalling it and as she sighed with delight she finally said, "Ohhh, I guess for about twenty years at that intense level, but since then it's only skipped a beat every other time I see him."
And when my parents became elderly, both with many health problems and dementia, all they wanted was to be together in their own bed. When I asked what they wanted to do on their 59th wedding anniversary, all they wanted was to stay home from day care that day to remain in their bed to cuddle and kiss.
And even though caring for every detail of my parents' last five years was the hardest thing I have ever done, I am proud to say I gave them the best end of life I possibly could. I was fortunate to be able to keep them together, in their home and in their own bed, until the end.
My father passed first, in bed, which was a blessing, as I don't think he could have survived a minute without her. My mother missed him so much and was so sad that I decided to send her and her caregiver (and the caregiver's grandmother and son) on a cruise to Hawaii-something she had always dreamed of doing.
They had the most wonderful time and I am blessed to have photos and video of her enjoying the trip so much. But then, just as they arrived in front of Hawaiian Airlines at the Honolulu airport, when her caregiver asked if she was ready to fly back home, my mother looked over at her, softly shook her head and quietly said "no" - and then just slumped over in her seat and passed.
Incredibly, at her funeral everyone from her day care came and told me, "Your mother told us she was so excited about going on her cruise, but that she was sorry that she wouldn't be back - because then she was going to go be with your father."
I still get a chill remembering when I heard that, but it actually gives me great comfort to know that we may have some control over when it is our time and when we are ready to go.
You can learn more about Jacqueline and find information about her book at ElderRage.com