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11:24 a.m. - May 31, 2006
Another Sad One
I had just sat down and started to write something very witty and allegedly funny about relationships, and was also developing something on a timeline for Katie’s dinnertime habits, but then I realized I needed to call home.

My Friday schedule is going to be *interesting*, with reunion receptions and softball games, and I wanted to be sure I told Liz that I’d be “sir not appearing in the family unit” on Friday.

But when I reached her, I knew something was up.

As you read earlier, my Mother-in-Law has been sick. She’s fought some infections and that has left her dehydrated. She’s also been fighting pneumonia. But they put her on some stronger medication and it seemed to have helped, a bit.

However, things took another turn and she went to the hospital again. The time before, she wasn’t allowed to stay in the hospital because her white cell count wasn’t low enough.

This time, we all thought that she was going to see the infectious disease specialist, but once again, for whatever reason, based on the lab work, she didn’t see this person and she was sent home.

And right now she’s not keeping her medication down and not drinking enough fluids, and it’s just not a good situation right now.

So, my SIL is going to talk to an intake specialist at a hospice.

If you aren’t familiar with hospice, it’s a place where someone is placed, near the end of their life, to live it in relative comfort and ease.

It’s not a nursing home, it’s a place where they make someone as comfortable as possible, and give them as much emotional and other support as they need, but they don’t aggressively try to make the person better.

As my SIL said, “They don’t call the emergency room.”

That is fine, because the last few times my MIL has been in the emergency room, it really hasn’t worked out.

What they will do, though, is make my MIL comfortable. She’ll get plenty of fluids, which she needs, and her medication. Hopefully, this will help her live her final time in peace and comfort.

Of course, no one knows how long this will last. It could be weeks, or months, or even years. If the medication is working (if she can keep it down) and she gets fluids, she could get better.

No one knows. Ok, one person does and he’s not telling.

Liz is really happy that she went out there last month with Kristin, because it could have been the last time they really got to talk. Since her father died so unexpectedly, she really needed that time with her mother.

And even though neither Kristin nor Katie really will ever remember, there will be evidence that Grandma Trudy did see and meet her youngest grandchildren.

Of course, I got to thinking of my relationships with my grandparents.

I never knew my Mom’s parents. They both died in 1944, within two days of each other, while my mom was still a teenager. That had to be traumatic, for sure, but except for visits to the cemetery, Mom never really talked much about it.

Most of her reminisces about her days on the farm were happy. But still, that had to be a shocker for anyone.

Fortunately, even though I came along late in my parent’s life, I did get to meet my Mamaw and Papaw. Papaw died when I was eight years old, but I spent enough time at their house to have some memories of him.

He was definitely a crusty old guy, pretty set in his ways, but he did love his grandkids. And it was a shock when he died, because he was one of those people who never was sick in his life. But he died at 81, and it was a full life.

My grandmother lasted a while longer. For most of her life she was sharp, and loving, and caring. She cooked the best fried chicken, and the best chocolate pie, and something called ‘scrap pie’ which I don’t think anyone knows what was in it, but it was a custardy thing with other stuff and it was darn good.

Of course, they lived through the depression, like my parents, where nothing was wasted and everything was used.

Oh, the stories my parents told about what they ate from the chickens and cows and other animals.

Liz actually got to meet Mamaw, though she was in a nursing home and 93 years old. She regaled Liz with tales of our trip to Arizona when I was 10 years old to visit my uncle and aunt out there, and the turbulence we encountered on the way back. The plane only dropped 2,000 feet or so. Nothing major. Hah.

I feel that I have some good genes in me, longevity wise. A lot of aunts and uncles and cousins lived to their 80’s and 90’s, and mind you, they didn’t have the best diet in the world. Dad is still going strong at 82, even with his pickle loaf habit. (Ewwww…) Mom is improving, and she’s still feisty at 79 going on 80.

Liz’s family also was pretty long lived. She also was the youngest baby, coming along late in life to relatively older parents. She has fond memories of some of her grandparents as well, and still treasures those memories.

Katie really likes to see Mamaw and Papaw when we get over there. Kristin is still skittish of Mamaw because how loud she talks, but I’m sure she’ll get over it in due time.

So we’re being realistic here. Liz’s mom is sick, and the drugs may help. She needs to keep hydrated and keep the medication down. But home isn’t the best place for her, because there’s just so much that needs to be done and my SILs can’t possibly do it all, no matter how valiant their efforts.

And it’s obvious she’s not quite sick enough for extended hospital stays, and really, would you want to be in the hospital for a long period of time, knowing they’ll try to shove you out the door in a moment’s notice.

So hospice seems to be the best place. She’ll be comfortable, and cared for, which is the most important thing.

Yet the word seems so final.

If there’s a time where Smed’s Corner goes dark in the next few weeks or months, it’s because we all boarded a plane to Phoenix in a rush to say our goodbyes.

I just hope it’s later, rather than sooner.


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