Sunday, June 30, 2013

Stepping Aside

I'm honored and privileged to be a member of the Open Group for Bedlam Farm, hosted by New York Times Bestselling author Jon Katz.  The group has awakened those passions that drive an artist.  The miracles I see on this site uplift and support me every day.

Jon doesn't just host the group, he's an active participant.  Walking shoulder to shoulder with the artist.  He spoke today that the hallmark of good writing lies in speaking about one's truth.  Is this real to the artist?  Are we telling the truth about ourselves?  Today, Jon asked why so many folks wrote about their mothers.  Many explained that they had or were active caregivers.  Let me quote Polyface Farm owner and author Joel Salatin, when I say, "Folks, this [lifestyle] ain't normal."

The thread, and the subsequent personal caregiving accounts, brought me back to the day I had to decide my mother's (and my) next steps in her care.  My mind still reeled from the doctor's message of "Just a few months."  They needed a decision from me ASAP as the insurance covered only so many days.  The doctor also recommended Hospice, a road I've traveled just recently as my father had been supported by the agency last year.

A dark vacuum draped over me as I fought with the decision.  Mom looked so good in the rehab facility.  Periods of confusion occurred, but nothing off the charts.  I slept fitfully.  I didn't like having her fate on my shoulders.  Hospice does have guidelines and in a way I felt as if I might be assisting in her death.  Admittedly, when I received my dad's diagnosis, I didn't endure those waves of emotion slamming me around like a rowboat floating in hurricane.  His illness and his disease progression were evident.  I knew then Hospice would keep him comfortable.

My spiritual side has always been my beacon and so I consulted with my mother's priest.  After all, she grew up in and found joy in her faith  For whatever reason, I left that visit feeling OK, but the decision still loomed like an ax over my head.  "Who was I to determine one's fate?"  "I am not God."  My own tradition welled up from my soul as I kept asking Jesus to "take this cup" as he asked his Father as I asked my deceased father in prayer.  That simple phrase summed it up for me.  Jesus knew he faced death, yet he asked that that dreaded decision be made for him.  We certainly have something in common and I had entered the land of weird.  Sleep eluded me.  Eating became a necessity, but I couldn't really taste anything.

I called a friend who I had know for a number of years.  We had gone through the discernment process together.  She became a priest.  I left the program a month before my scheduled ordination due to my father's illness.  The car couldn't get me there fast enough.  As I entered the parish office, tears began to flow.  She just hugged me as the emotions poured out.  As she quietly handed me more tissues in attempt to mop up the mess in front of her, I explained Mom's situation.  How I refused to assist in Mom's death.  Get someone else.  Anyone else.  Not me.  God picked the wrong girl.

Susan listened patiently.  Finally, she said the words that I hadn't expect to hear.  She said, "JD, you are not assisting in your mother's death.  You are stepping aside and letting God take over.  You've done everything you can.  It's time."  Those two simple words, "stepping aside" made sense to me.  Her fate did not rest in my hands.  This decision wasn't what I thought it was and actually a great deal more than I'd believed.  Controlling her end of life didn't rest with me.  The only question left involved taking her home or placing her in a nursing home?

The answer to "where" became clear to my as I visited my mother that day.  She didn't understand the nurse's call button and I found her screaming from her bed to "Help me!  Help me!"  I soothed her, then walked over to the nurses' station to inform them Mom would be coming home.

I'm stepping aside now.  There's something much bigger than me in the universe to help and that's my truth.

1 comment:

  1. as the daughter of a mom who had Alzheimer's, as well as a geriatric RN, i find much comfort in those words, "stepping aside." i will remember them and pass them along to others in the same predicament. Thank you!


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