Answering the phone on shabbot

    Thursday, January 29, 2009, 1:39 PM [General]

        We were seated in our living room snuggled on the couch with blankets on our laps.  In front of us were magazines and newspapers to savor as we relaxed after a nice shabbot friday night dinner. We had eaten well, sung all of the traditional songs and benching and were enjoying the peace of the moment. I jumped when the phone rang.  We felt the anxiety building as we waited for the answering machine to let us listen to who was calling.  It was my mother in law's doctor.  She wanted to let us know that mommy had taken a turn for the worst and she wanted to speak with us about our wishes regarding her care.  My husband ran to reach the phone in time.  Answering and using the phone on shabbot is not what we normally do, but in htis case as it was related to mommy's care, we did not hesitate.  "How is she?" he said.  "She's having some difficulty breathing and we have strted her on pain medicine."  "I will call you tomorrow is if there is any change."

         On Saturday we walked to shul and said our prayers.  We came home and had lunch and enjoyed tea with our friends.  They could identify with our situation ahving lost a parent recently and with another one ill and out of town.  The phone rang again.  I quickly jumped to get it.  "Her breathing is more labored."  "It only a matter of hours."

         Our friends gave us hugs and went home.  We nervously got ready and made our way to the car.  Shabbot would be over in an hour, but we couldn't wait. The anticipation of what was to come was tremendous.  It was so strange to be driving on the sabbath, but we couldn't have gotten to the facility where mommy was any other way safely. The walk would be log (hours long) and in sub zero weather.

         We entered her room and immediately heard the swoosh woosh sound of an oxygen machine pump.  My mother in law was breathing in a labored way. Her eyes were closed and she seemed unconscious, but I encouraged my husband Jim and sister in law Stacey to speak to her and let her know that they gave her permission to go. They reassured her that they would take care of my father in law.  Jim held her hand.  After he was done speaking to her he began to weep.  "She squeezed my hand!"  "I think she heard you", I said.

         I watched her and saw a beautiful blue aura around her head.  I had never noticed this color around her before.  I assumed this is a color that is seen when a person is dying.

         We stayed until late that night.  The nurses encouraged us to go home and get some rest.  We got the call at 6:10AM that she had passed away.  We got up quickly, grabbed the book of tehillim, (psalms) and went to the car.  We drove silently back to the hospital and made our way yot her side.  We sat with her saying psalms as we waited for the Jewish burial society representatives to arrive and the funeral home representative.  The Chevra Chadisha (Jewish burial society) is made up of pious community members who volunteer their time to assist in the burial preparations for jewish members of the community.  They were so kind when they arrived and helped prepare mommy.

         It was hard to see her go, but I am glad she didn't have to suffer for a long time.  I feel bad for Jim as it is hard for him to cry like I can.  I am like a faucet and the tears came freely. The funeral was on a snowy morning the next day.  It was a graveside service and many memebers of the shul came and helped with the burial.  The days of shiva at our house were exhausting and surreal.  People brough over meals and salads and desserts.  We got more hugs than we could handle.

         Now it is quiet here.  Our next shabbot will be back to normal.  I won't jump when the phone rings.  I will return to work and get back into the normal routine.  Life will go on, because that's what we have to do. 

    Thanks for listening.

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    Why won't she converse with me anymore?

    Wednesday, December 3, 2008, 5:55 PM [General]

        "Why won't she converse with me anymore?"  My father in law looked at me desperately, the frustration showing on his face.  "Edna, wake up!"  He said and he shook her shoulder. 

     "Daddy, leave her alone.  She's tired.  Don't keep trying to wake her up. That's not nice.  It's normal for her to sleep.  It's part of the process.  she can't talk because it's hard to talk and breathe at the same time when you are as sick as she is."

         "What am I supposed to do?", he said.  I am so isolated."  "You're not isolated, Daddy."  "I'm right here with you.  The staff is here with you.  You should try to distract yourself by going to the groups they have here.  How was the floutist yesterday?"

         " He was good.  A middle aged guy.  He did a good job."

         "I'm glad you went to the concert with mommy."  "Do you still go to the men's club?"

         "No....., that was a bad group.  Imagine a "Mens' Club" that's run by a woman!, Plus, no one talked but a few of us."

         "Well, we need to find other things for you to do so you aren't always upset and frustrated about mommy."

         Dealing with my father in law is a constant challenge in addition to helping with my mother in law's care.  Wish me needed luck.  I'm doing my best.

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    Special visit from a grandson

    Sunday, November 23, 2008, 11:02 AM [General]

    My son was studying in Israel. He heard of my mother in law's prognosis and was crying to me on the phone. Ema, I don't want t come home for a funeral and shiva. Please let me come home now to see her while she is till alive. How could I refuse him? He cam home and ran from the car and picked me up in a hug. Can we go to see grandma right after shabbot? I told him that would be too late for her. We will go Sunday, I said. I told him he should bring his guitar and play music for his grandma and zayde. I think it will mean alot to them to have his visit. I hope they can join us for Thanksgiving. I worry will the wheel chair fit through the bathroom door? Will we remember to bring her an extra change of clothing just in case? Will I remember to buy depends and all the other things she needs? I worry that the trip here and back to the nursing center will be too much for her. I feel we should get her here, no matter what to be with the whole family as this is her last Thanksgiving holiday. I hope we will be doing the right thing. Best, Chanalea

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    You're such a good person.

    Wednesday, November 19, 2008, 7:13 PM [General]

         That's all people say lately when they hear I took a leave of absence from my job to care for my dyingterminally ill mother in law.  Wouldn't anyone do this if they copuld?  I'm lucky to have a job that recognizes the need for "family Leave".  I am very thankful to have supportive people to work with.  I am doing what I think is right.  I want to help my mother in law die with as much dignity as possible.  She is too sick to be maintained at home since she needs to be around doctors constantly.  So, the best I can do is be with her as much as I can. 

          She's sleeping more now.  I had to wake her up to eat lunch.  But with some urging, she ate a good lunch.  I hate watching my father in law try to wake her up when she sleeps.  I know he does that because he's worried she might die right there and then.  But, give the lady a break!  If she needs to sleep, let her.  She's going to go.  We know that.  So, dont; keep her up just because of your anxiety.

         A nice psychology lady comes around to see him to give him support.  He's not sleeping at night.  Losing a spouse is a terrible thing.  I hope he will be o.k.  Thanks for listening.

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    Tuesday, November 18, 2008, 4:42 PM [General]

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    Losing too many, too fast.

    Tuesday, November 18, 2008, 4:41 PM [General]

              First in Jan. my father died unexpectedly.  I remember like it was a dream.  Getting the call from my sister, flying to his state, meeting with the funeral home, planning the funeral.  I gave the speech at the ceremony.  I held it together well during the shiva and then back to work I went at home.  I was just recovering from the total shock of the situation when my mother in law became ill.

         They thought during her first two hospitalizations that she had pneumonia.  By the fourth one, they decided she had lung cancer.  Within one year I had lost my dad and was now going to lose my dear mother in law.  Gd gives us only what we can handle.  Right?  I guess I am a bit overwhelmed with another loss so soon after losing my dad.   Wish me luck!

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