To recap: my “baby” sister called me at work on Friday, January 28 to tell me our mother, Gertrude Elizabeth (Trudy) Green, had gone to the ER with a severe headache. It was latter determined that she had had a “brain bleed”; I don’t think I understood that terminology until I got down to the hospital. What Mom had was a stroke; there are two kinds, one which constricts the blood, and the other, less common, but more problematic, where there’s too much blood.
I figured that I needed to go down by train because flying was too expensive. I remember getting a “sick or bereavement rate” when I flew down to Charlotte, NC before my father died, but it was hardly helpful. Since I didn’t know when I’d return, taking the train to Charlotte seemed to be the best plan.
I was initially planning on leaving on Tuesday, but when I saw the forecast for a massive snowstorm, which did arrive, I knew I needed to leave on Monday. I called work on Monday morning from the train station to tell them I wouldn’t be in for several days.
Tuesday, my sisters and I spent the day in the hospital, and my sisters tell me that she was doing much better, giving a couple one-word answers.
Wednesday morning, she had a Cheyne-Stokes breathing episode that sounded terribly distressing, but apparently was not, at least for her. I talked with my doctor about this last month when I was feeling unwell. She notes that hospice nurses are good at bring comfort to the family, but that sometimes, hospital nurses forget that, when death is near, they still need to try to make the family feel OK. My doc theorized that perhaps they gave my mom a bit of morphine to control the sounds, for my benefit.
I was there when Mom died shortly before 9 a.m. I was told to call my sisters before I was told that fact; very odd. When my sisters arrived, they thought she was only sleeping before I had a chance to tell them otherwise.
I was having this electronic conversation with my blogger buddy Arthur recently about the euphemisms for death. He doesn’t much like them, and I’m inclined to agree. But, in my mom’s case, I understand why they say that someone “passed away.”
It so happened that I wrote a blog item that posted on Wednesday, though I had written it on Saturday, Take the Train to Charlotte. All the posts prior to 2:05 pm EST indicated hope for my mom’s recovery. But somewhere around 2:12, I started getting condolences. Denise, the ABC Wednesday diva, had IMed me at some point after we got home from the hospital around noon, to ask how my mom was doing, so of course I told her. The outpouring of support I got from people I had never met was astonishing. Jaquandor and Arthur both wrote posts about my mom and me.
I was intrigued by one comment to a brief post I wrote the day after she died, describing my account as “dispassionate”. I suppose that was true; it was a coping mechanism.
So it was tough, but it was made palatable by folks from work and church, and by friends I’ve known in person, but also from a whole lot of people I have never met. My friends Jason and DeeDee placed a small obit in my mom’s hometown paper in Binghamton, NY, which was the first time some of her friends and relatives heard about her death. I read the comments from various posts I wrote during the month, and they make me (past and present tense) both weepy, but at the same time, comforted. The aforementioned Denise sent flowers to our house; amazing how well flowers from England held up.
Oh, some mundane stuff: got $561 from my mother’s Social Security in December, as did my sisters; not quite clear exactly why. That’ll help with paying off some of the debt I incurred for the funeral and Charlotte newspaper obit.