I’ve been trying to figure out how to start this post all day. And I couldn’t come up with a good idea, so bear with me.
Many thanks for the countless emails, comments, and cards you’ve sent in the last couple of weeks. The love and support are very much appreciated.
I’m not ready to write very much about the last week of my mother’s life. I don’t know if I will ever be. But I am comfortable saying this; being able to care for her as she died, being a part of the gathering of our family, and honoring her wishes to die in dignity and at home was one of the most profound experiences of my life.
Hospice does not sweep in and take care of everything. Hospice provides medical oversight and guidance, and an hour or so of care a day. But because of the Oswego County Hospice program, my mother got to die on her own terms. Her last week was filled with flowers, grandchildren, friends, the music of Glenn Miller, Frank Sinatra, and Henry Mancini, and wet kisses from our dog, the Creature With Fangs. And ice cream. Lots of teeny-tiny tastes of ice cream.
There was one moment I’d like to share with you. After my mother died, I removed the oxygen tube that she had worn for the past six years and turned off the machine that provided her oxygen. My mother suffered for decades and died much earlier than she should have because she smoked cigarettes for nearly her entire adult life. (She quit the day the doctors put her on oxygen 24/7.)
When I was a kid I was angry at her for smoking. Watching her struggle to breathe as she got older, the anger melted into compassion. My heart goes out to anyone fighting their addiction to cigarettes.
If you are thinking of quitting, please do it today. If you fail, try again tomorrow. And the day after that and the day after that – as many times as it takes. You deserve the ability to breathe deep, to walk with your children and grandchildren, to take ten steps without stopping three times.
If you don’t smoke, for the love of all that is holy, do NOT start. Cigarettes are not cool or hip or remotely wonderful. They are a tool designed to steal money from your wallet and kill you…. but kill you slowly, breath by breath, so the cigarette industry can extract as much profit as possible from you.
OK, I wrote more than I had planned on. Thanks for listening.