End of Life
New London March 9, 2020
Mom was getting better from a variety of illnesses taking their toll on her 95-year-old body. She was actually getting dressed and going out of her room when Covid came to town. I came to see her on the day the nursing home decided to shut down. The nurse said that I could quickly go into her room and explain what was happening, that we were in quarantine, and of course, no visitors. I ran down the hall to her room, but when I got there, she was sleeping in her chair. I woke her gently and gave her a kiss. This was back in the day when people still kissed. I told her about the lock down. I wasn’t sure if it really registered or not. She was groggy.
We had experienced the nursing home locking down before because of a stomach bug that Mom eventually got, so I figured we knew what to expect. The quarantine went on longer and longer. Then schools closed, businesses closed, we began to wash our groceries and wear masks.
Mom and I would talk on the phone and/or email every day. Neither one of us wanted to bother to learn Zoom or FaceTime, which the recreation director offered to help us with. On and on it went. Mom got sick again. This time it was pneumonia. She couldn’t deal with the phone. She was too sick. She didn’t get up and go to her desk to do email. Until March, I visited my mother every day after work. Now, I spoke to the nurses several times a day for updates on how she was doing. On Easter my husband, Tom, and I went under her window and jumped around and shouted, “Yoo-Hoo!” The nurses rolled her bed to the window so that she could see us.
The next day, the social worker called and said that I could come to see Mom. That’s when I really knew she was going to die. No one was allowed to visit unless it was an end of life issue. There was a special room right next to the nurse’s station where I would find her. I entered the nursing home through a special entrance that went directly to the office. They asked me a few questions and took my temperature. They suited me up in a plastic hat, a mask and a space suit. I went into Mom’s room and leaned over her so that she could see me and wouldn’t have to move. I called her name and said that I hoped she recognized me in this stupid mask. Someone said, “Take off the stupid mask for a moment so she can see you.” I did. Mom said, “My daughter!”
I spent the rest of that day and the next suited and masked up, crying with my nose running inside the mask. It was hard to breathe. It was April 14, 2020. Mom passed that night after I’d gone home.
I spoke to family and friends over the phone. Some of these folks I had not seen since I was a child. I received many cards and emails. We posted Mom’s obituary on her Facebook page and heard from many of her virtual friends, who I didn’t know at all. Of course there was no funeral and no hugs.
Submitted by Ann on 9/9/2020