Posted by: Marilyn Dieckmann | December 27, 2011

Angels we have heard…

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

My post today is about angels and the peace and joy they bring. I’ve written about them before (What’s love got to do with it? Part Four) but I’d like to share the entire episode now.

I’m an orphan… and both my parents suffered painful deaths. My dad died slowly from cancer that ate away at his body, and my mom died from congestive heart failure. Watching parents die, also tears away pieces of life from those who are near.

I was at my mom’s side during her long illness. I’m the oldest, and whether or not that means that I’m the “one” designated for the caregiver position… doesn’t matter… I was there. She needed me.

My youngest son Kelyn stayed with mom for over a year prior to her final hospital and nursing home stay. He gave up his time to be with her so I wouldn’t worry… and also gave her a reason to get up in the morning!

Mom loved to complain… and he gave her tons of fuel. Oh nothing weird or mean, just goofy stuff like shoes not exactly where she thought they should be, sleeping too late, or eating pizza rolls instead of pot roast. She loved every minute of it and it gave her something to do. Kelyn, you will forever be blessed in heaven for loving your grandma so well. Be proud of that… forever and always.

Kelyn called me on Valentine’s Day in tears because mom was beyond his care and he didn’t know what to do. She was getting worse… I told him to take her to the hospital and I’d meet them there. That was the last day she was at home.

For three months mom was in a nursing home. (I don’t recommend Havenwood in Bemidji AT ALL) I bought her new clothes and a fluffy quilt for her bed, and flowers and plants to make the room cheery. Her tastes changed dramatically, something I’m told happens as the body prepares to die. I would bring her a different “taste” every day. Once in a while I’d find something that satisfied that unknown craving that persisted in those last days.

Her last days were “classic” because they followed the signs documented by countless others who experienced this trauma. I use the term trauma because when she was gone, I finally realized the impact it had on me. Not just the loss of my mother… but it was the end of a long battle.

I felt it in my heart before I left work on the evening ofย  Wednesday June 18th that my life would soon change. Mom was in hospice care and I was going to stop by and check in on her. I had already asked for the rest of the week off… I knew the end was near and wanted to be with her.

The nurse called as I left the mill and I drove like a madwoman to reach her. Mom was agitated and restless and nothing they did seemed to quiet her. I took her hand, told her I loved her… and it soothed her instantly. She needed that loving touch, to know I was there. When she was finally resting peacefully they told me to go home, get a good nights sleep and come back in the morning.

The vigil began in the morning.

I spent the next four nights sleeping in the chair by her side. I listened to her broken breathing and gasps, and jumped each time she stopped breathing. Another sign of the last days… long gaps between breaths. She wasn’t conscious, but she knew I was there and would wiggle her toes when I spoke to her…ย  for me it was enough.

Everyone who could make it stopped by during those last days and gave me time away from the death vigil. I couldn’t bear to be away long… simply because I wanted to be there. I’m a firm believer that no one should ever die alone… especially my mom.

The nights were long and strained, but Sunday night was different and I was exhausted. There was a new sense of peace in the air… mom’s breathing was regular and I was eventually lulled to sleep.

At four in the morning I felt a whisper of a kiss on my cheek and an ever-so-slight movement in the room. God knew I needed help and sent his angels to watch over us. I knew this in the depths of my heart and fear was replaced with absolute peace. When the time was right… they would take mom home.

I went back to sleep and slept peacefully until morning. Mom was still with me in the morning, and her face was soft without the agony of pain.

The nurses offered me breakfast and truly lousy coffee… but it tasted like ambrosia at the time. Mom continued to rest and I opened up my laptop to browse through a photo album I’d made of her life. One of the nurses stopped in to let me know they would be giving her a sponge bath soon and I showed her the photos of mom’s life.

While I was telling the nurse how beautiful my mom was… the angels took her to heaven. My mom died listening to her daughters words of love.

What followed next was quite dramatic… like a scene from a movie. I jumped up and touched her frantically seeking life and whimpering, “Mom… mom… MOM?”ย  She was gone… released from her pain and taken on wings with the angels.

I believe.

Have a wonderful day!

From Marilyn with love…

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