Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Evelyn Frances--born 95 years ago

Mother would have turned 95 today if she were still living.  
My mother and I with my sister-in-law and her two daughters

March 12, 1919, is a date I will never forget.  I filled it into forms so many times while handling her medical care and business.

She lived a full life: childhood in a little mining town in Colorado, college in Boulder in 1936-37, two years in Denver earning her RN at Children's Hospital, service as a Navy nurse in World War II, marriage, raising four children, teaching public health nursing at a two-year college and at the University of Maryland, enjoying 14 grandchildren, volunteer work in retirement, and finally residence on the memory care floor of Sunrise Assisted Living.

She didn't like the limitations of old age.  Her fiercely independent spirit chafed against having someone else dispense her medications and tell her when to go to bed or show up at meals.

In 2005 she even tried to push her walker down a stairway and out into a busy street so she would be hit by a truck.  Of course it didn't work, but the event was her attempt to die without further indignities.

She lived on four more years, a time that included wearing Depends, being showered by caregivers, and having her Depends changed at night by men she didn't know with skins of brown and black.

Pneumonia was what finally took her father's life when he was aged.  In 1976 she had said that nurses called this illness "the angel of mercy" because it gave a swift and gentle exit to a person who was ready to die.

She was not so lucky, however.  Her life ended by starvation and dehydration.  

There came a time when her throat muscles no longer knew how to swallow because of the damage done to her brain by the plaque deposits of Alzheimer's Disease.  Her children decided not to start a feeding tube of pureed food into her stomach.  We felt that her quality of life had deteriorated far enough without doing that.

On her birthday in 2008 I took her to lunch at Carrow's Restaurant near my house.  She ordered fried shrimp, which she could not eat.  Mashed potatoes and applesauce went down well.  She drank milk.  

She wanted rhubarb pie, a food rarely found on a restaurant menu today.  Her grandmother had made that pie, and she had occasionally stewed rhubarb for us.

Today the amaryllids are blooming at my front door, as they were five years ago during her last month of life and in the week of her memorial service.  

It's like the poem "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloomed" by Walt Whitman, remembering the death of Abraham Lincoln.

Every year the perennials return in full bloom, reminding survivors of the one they lost in a previous spring.

We are mortal, but the little flowers live on.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What lovely thoughts of your mother. I do remember so many of her extended family gathering for her memorial service. She was a very special lady.
Becky F.