Saturday, July 01, 2006

Canada Day 2006

The surreality from Wednesday continued Thursday. When I went to the hospital, Mom was lying there, breathing through her mouth with her eyes open but there was no recognition in them at all. She was entirely unresponsive. I took up my post beside her bed again, sometimes held her hand, talked to her, put a CD in the walkman and hoped she could hear it through the headphones close to her ears.

After I got back from having pizza in the hospital cafeteria, the hospice lady called me to a sunny side room to have a chat. Of course any sign of sympathy cracks my shell of composure and I blubbered all over the place. She has probably seen this repeated times and just heard me out. Her piece was that she felt Mom was so near the end, it didn’t make sense to move her to a hospice at this point and there wasn’t room in the Surrey Hospital Hospice now in any case. (Of course I was relieved that they won’t be moving her again.)

After our talk I went back to mom’s room and did more of the above. A couple of nephews and their families came by to visit and looking after the kids was a nice distraction. Ernie finally came around 4:30.

I dithered about whether to stay the night but decided, in the end, not to. A nurse promised to phone as soon as there were any developments. We went home about 8:00 p.m.

After no phone call all night we returned to the hospital about 9:30 Friday morning. And there was our dear valiant Mom, looking the same way as on Thursday, still unresponsive, but breathing albeit her breath was very rattley now and the nurses were suctioning her regularly.

And so we passed another day – holding her hand, playing her music, talking to her a bit, singing a bit, knitting, reading the paper, doing another Sudoku puzzle while she soldiered on through the Valley of Death.

We left the hospital about 5:45 after praying over her again, kissing her goodbye and telling her one last time that we loved her.

We stopped at the Lido (Chinese) for supper, then back home to send another update email to my list and veg in front of the TV where I got engrossed in a British production of a Miss Marple story.

That was just done when the phone rang again. It was Tessie from Palliative Care. She said, “Your mom just passed away. It was peaceful.” So I sent off yet another email to my family list and then we went to the hospital one more time to gather her things and sign the morgue release.

They’d drawn the curtain around her bed, and there was a butterfly pinned to it. Behind the curtain there she was, her color a lot paler, her skin already looking waxy – but quiet and at peace.

And so her first full day in heaven will be Canada Day.

Mom was a real Canadian patriot and Canada Day was always very special to her. In fact she was quite famous in her condo in Abbotsford for her Canada Day brunches. On each Canada Day for years she would invite twelve people, one for each province and territory (thirteen when Nunavut became a territory) for brunch. I was invited to two or three of these and they were a lot of fun.

She would set the table with her provincial placemats, her floral emblem glasses and cups and saucers. Then she would cook up a meal, serving food like Canadian bacon and Abbotsford strawberries. After eating we would go around the table with each person reading what their placemat said about their province. We also did things like tell about the places in Canada that we’d lived or visited, and played Canada trivia.

This year, though, Mom will spend Canada Day in heaven. I love how my sister-in-law Dawn put it to her daughter Rosie in an email a few days ago:

I think, for grandma, maybe God will have a Canada Day Celebration party for her in heaven... for the best "quilting/quilling/never-quits-creating" Mother/Grandmother/ Great-grandmother... think of all those who are already there who would be around her at that table...maybe He'll send for her floral emblem glassware and He'll make her a very special cocktail from all the fruit juices He's saved up in His fridge, maybe He'll put in an order for Krause /bros. berries 'just picked' by Jane, and Canadian back bacon, ah yes, and add Russian pancakes (Big pancakes for Big Grandma) to the menu. Maybe we should put in an order for her?! What great memories she has created for everyone, eh?? We will so miss her but we can carry her in our hearts forever and we have the hope of joining her someday!!*

To that I have only one word to add – AMEN!!

*Thanks, Dawn, for permission to use this.


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