After many years of Alzheimer’s disease my mom finally passed away. I am glad her misery is over, only sorry it took so long. The funeral was attended by close relatives since she had outlived all of her contemporaries. My sister and I went for a final viewing just after we got the news. I kissed her and told her I loved her and that she was a good mom, but the reality of what can happen to a human body that has lived beyond its years remains unsettling. Her bones stuck out from flesh so thin you could practically see inside. And as for her mind, it had long since gone, making me question what I could do to prevent this from happening to me.
One of my mom’s former nurses, almost ready to retire, said she will never take any medications for high blood pressure, cholesterol, etc. While these meds often give people bonus years, it’s a gamble if the years will be worth living. Apparently, she has seen too many people (usually women) who spend their days reclining in wheelchairs, mouths hung open, staring at walls. Since I don’t want to end up like that either, her words are food for thought.
There are many things worse than death, and I often wonder about people who go to extremes to extend their lives or those of loved ones, clearly suffering. I know of one family who had both their grandmother’s legs amputated to prevent her death. No soap! She died shortly after, anyway.
I also wonder about folks who proclaim to be so religious, yet seem afraid to let go. The 2005 Terri Schiavo case comes to mind with her husband battling the objections of his wife’s parents over a seven-year period—even President George W. Bush tried to intervene—before all federal appeals failed and she was finally allowed to die.
In the U.S. three states have assisted suicide laws (Oregon, Washington, and Montana) and some countries in Europe and elsewhere do too. Laws, however, are murky, and usually a person is too sick to navigate the challenges by the time s/he may need help. So plan wisely, and remember death is just another beginning.
While I have more to say on these subjects, I’ll stop here and end this post where I began, with a goodbye to Mom: I hope our spirits meet again in some form or another, but if they don’t, then so be it. I accept what is and that which is not under my control.
For now I’ll make due with memories of you and pictures from when you were even younger than me. How strange! So RIP, Mom; you deserve it. Your loving daughter.