Our friends and readers here may recall that last August (2009), in the aftermath of a carotid artery clean-out surgery, t's mom, Eleanor, had a series of strokes which almost killed her. Amazingly, despite a month in a vegetative state, and after three months in a rehabilitation facility that was nothing short of wondrous in the quality of their care, she was back in her home for Christmas 2009. She has been cared for tirelessly by her niece, who relocated from Michigan, to live with her grandmother, with respite provided by t and her brother, and, even swan, has taken a relief stint. We have only, just in the last month, gotten a home care company in too, to help provide professional support. She has limited speech, and significant physical disability between the impact of her strokes and her respiratory deficit. She has to be on oxygen always, and takes dramatically impactful medications that are usually used as chemo-therapy in oncological treatment.
She has in the interim suffered further strokes, and has been diagnosed with interstitial lung disease. Her condition is treatable, but terminal. She had an appointment with her pulmunoligist today. He has told us that soon (and of course no one knows exactly what "soon" means) there will come a time when the only way she will be able to survive is on a ventilator. After that there is no way she will survive without the vent, and there would be no conscious life. t has arranged for us all to be together tomorrow evening, including swan and I, with her brother, niece, and of course, her mom, to decide whether we will ever introduce ventilation into her care, or will enact advance directives which would prevent that from being implemented.
t's mom, Eleanor, is one of the strongest, and simply and purely, the best women, I have ever known. She has always taken into her home, and had at her table people who were lost and needed family and help, whatever their story, including me, when my first marriage ended and I discovered, came to love, and eventually marry her daughter. And, as our lives evolved, and our swan came to become part of our lives and our love, she accepted us all, and welcomed swan as a new daughter to her life and family, as only she would, without fanfare, but just as a matter of course. Only she could be who she has been for us all. As this hurdle looms, I find myself feeling that this damnable year will never end with the losses it has brought us.
We will gather as a family and spend however much time we have celebrating the coming holidays as heartily as we are able, while we still have us all.
All the best,
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you've imagined.