Ogre again pleads to internet strangers for emotional succor.

My mom has had several carotid strokes, which have left her left side completely paralyzed. She is also a severe diabetic who suffers from advanced diabetic retinopathy and all the other associated diabetic conditions. Sunday night, she choked badly on some food because along with everything else, her esophagus is partially paralyzed as well. During the bout of choking, she aspirated some of the food into her lungs and contracted pneumonia. Her blood sugar began wildly spiking and crashing, and she became septicemic, with some of the pneumonic infection spreading via the blood to her kidneys, which failed. She lost consciousness and stopped breathing, having to have her heart restarted twice by emergency docs. At that point, my oldest brother called me and said, “You’d better come home. Mom’s dying. Bring a suit.” I dropped everything and rushed home, to find her almost dead. Her blood sugar was off the scale (literally. It was higher than 500, which is the upper limit of the equipment being used at Baptist,) her pulse was racing at nearly 200 beats per minute, and her blood pressure was so low as to be pooling in low places.

But she’s tough. A couple of days later, her BP began to stabilize and the frequent pumping of her lungs seemed to be taking care of the pneumonia. When I left, she was fluttering in and out of semiconsciousness.

You know, it’s hard to think of my mother dying, but she is. My mother’s death is imminent. Maybe not this time, but tomorrow, next week. Maybe next month I’ll pack my suit again and attend my mom’s funeral. And I’m terrified for my dad, because on January 20, it will be their 55th anniversary, and his whole life revolves around his devotion to my mother. For the past 2 years, he has fed her, bathed her, helped her onto the toilet, and waited on her 24/7. I’ve never seen such incredible selflessness in my life. He sleeps in the den with her hospital bed. He waits on her every need, no matter how intimate or embarrassing, without an ounce of disgust. I have NEVER heard him complain or express anything but upbeat positivity about my mother.

He still thinks she’s going to walk again. I don’t know if he’s serious about it, or he’s fooling himself, or it keeps him from going insane, or he’s just trying to put on a bold face for the family. But she’s never going to walk again. Hell, she may never even wake up. She looks awful, and she has tubes and flecks of blood at her mouth. It’s very horrible.

I may have spoken to my mother for the last time. I may never get another story about the Depression in the Appalachians from her, or another old recipe. I miss hugging her. She was a dedicated hugger. She is the absolute kindest person I have ever known. Her life shines with compassion and wisdom and love. She is a white Southern woman from deep in the mountains of north Georgia, and she taught me that inequality, racism, and hatred of any person is despicable and deeply ignorant. She used to read two novels a day. She taught me to read and that “anything you ever want to know is written down somewhere. All you have to do is find it.” She taught me how to make cornbread and Indian stew. In the Depression, she was unable to attend Agnes Scott College in Atlanta, to which she had received a scholarship, because of expenses and family obligation. She made friends with German POW’s who were shipped back to the States and worked on gangs outside a Georgia military base. Back in the 70’s there used to still be KKK parades in Montgomery, and she took me to one to show me what those bastards look like. This happened the week after my dad received several recruitment letters from the KKK. I have never seen him so furious in all my life. The thought that a friend of his would be a member and believe that my dad would make a good candidate made him livid.

And if she dies, my dad dies. January 3 was his 78th birthday, and although he’s in perfect health, he’s 78 years old, and he has no life outside of my mother.

I’m so sorry that your family is going through this heartbreaking ordeal. :frowning: Your mother is fortunate to have such a loving and devoted husband. I’m not sure if anything I say can be of consolation at a time like this, but just wanted to let you know that I read your post and wish you and your family all the best.

My heart just aches for you my friend. I am so sorry these events have come into your family and your life. Your post was very moving.

The next part is not unlike a dance, of sorts.

Put on some music. Touch the people near you.

Let them feel your breath against their cheek.

I wish you peace.

Your father’s love for her is beautiful.

Your mother’s love of learning is beautiful.

Your life has been filled with beauty and you will go through this with grace.

We here support you in your love of your parents. Please do think of all the joy they have brought into your and others lives. If she does die soon, at least you will have some preparation. It must be awful to have someone die suddenly.

I’m so sorry to hear this. You’re fortunate to have such loving, caring, intelligent parents. Your post shows that these qualities live on in you. Please keep us updated on both of your parents. I wish you peace and strength.


My parents & I are not too far from where you are, Ogre.

I live at home, & help take care of them.

You aren’t alone.

Your mother sounds like an incredible person-someone it would be an honor to know. Thank you for sharing some of her story with us.
I don’t want to tread on your grief, but has the family talked about the next steps and perhaps what your mother would want if her heart should stop again? As you have seen, the fact that we can save lives is not always in the best interests of those concerned.
God bless your Dad–he has hoed a hard row or six. This sounds devastating for him. Denial is a strange thing–and miracles do happen, but… :frowning:

I do hope you get more time with her. Take a page from her book–start writing down those Appalachia stories.

I’m sorry to hear your sad news. My mom and dad were inseparable from the time they met, and when mom died, I was afraid my dad would have no life either. But you’ll probably find that he’ll reach out to his children and little by little, begin to shift that bond. Grieving after a relationship as long as theirs is difficult. I wish all of you peace.


My heart goes out to you. Your parents sound like amazing people.

I appreciate all the kindness, folks. I really do. I was in a bad way last night. I had just gotten back from seeing her, and I was crying my eyes out. I needed some immediate reaction to my feelings, and as usual, you kind folks came through in spades. It helped to put that down, and to let the tears come. Of course, there are lots more waiting in the wings, but I’ll deal with those later.

You know, the funny thing about my dad is that he is a racist. He really is…but his racism is of the almost-hereditary kind that can only come from growing up in an all-white town in South Carolina in the 30’s. So he throws out an occasional “nigger” here and there in that distinctive way that old Southern people sometimes do - not with the vicious sneer of a dedicated white supremacist, but with a certain “What? Did I say something wrong?” matter-of-factness.

But the KKK invitation enraged him, and he used to tell me in so many words that discriminating against any man is wrong. It’s a dichotomy I don’t entirely understand, but I take hope from it. He obviously had no wish to advertise or socially promote the prejudicial feelings he had…but he plainly had them. I have often wondered, in fact, if he has used racist language as sort of a meta-teaching tool. He’s an intelligent person. He designed radar systems for 35 years. But I have to go with Occam’s Razor on this one. The unfortunate fact is that my father is racist.

But irony of ironies, because they are poor folks, they have not had the luxury of white flight from the neighborhood I grew up in in Montgomery. They have stayed in place while the neighborhood around them has grown almost entirely black…and my dad has learned (my mom never had to. She has always been accepting and tolerant of anybody.) that black neighbors are just as caring and nice as white neighbors. When I go hom enowadays, I’m as likely to see black folks visiting my parents from the neighborhood as I am to see old white folks from the church they used to attend. I think it’s been good for him.

Oh, Ogre, I’m so very sorry about your mom. Being raised here, I know you’ll understand this; I have an intense need to bake you a casserole. Please know your family is in my thoughts and prayers.

I am so sorry to hear about your mother’s ill health. Your parents sound like good people. Your tribute to them both was beautiful. In an age when half of all couples divorce 55 years of marriage is quite an accomplishment.

Best wishes.

Well, I’m sorry to report that I was correct. Yesterday, at 4:30PM Central US time, my mother “made a funny sound,” according to my father, and stopped breathing. He waited 5-10 seconds to see if she’d catch her breath, and when she didn’t, he started screaming for the nurse. The nurse checked her vital signs, and determined that she had flatlined. My father, in anticipation of this, had signed a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order to spare her the indignity of delaying what was completely inevitable. He still begged them to do something when my mother’s body began autonomically jerking. They, of course, assured him that she was gone, that her breathing had stopped, and her heart had stopped, and that she was irrevocably gone.

My wife and I were in a Bed Bath & Beyond 200 miles away spending some of the gift certificates we’d received for our wedding in October. I was trying to convince her that we needed the basketweave tablecloth rather than the more contemporary, striped one, when her cell phone rang, she listened for a second, and she silently passed it to me. My sister-in-law had been trying to reach me for an hour on my phone, but I had let my battery discharge.

My wife and I arrived back in Montgomery last night to a house full of family and my poor, devastated, destroyed father. We stayed with him last night, and this morning, all of us (the three brothers and our wives) began making all the horrible arrangements for her funeral.

There are times that I completely detest free market capitalism. Today was awful. They tried to upsell us on the casket. They tried to upsell us on “head panels.” They tried to upsell us on “memorial mementoes,” these lurid, horrible symbolic pieces of kitsch that the dearly departed are supposed to “take with them.” They tried to upsell us on markers, vases, headstones, every goddamn thing. Look, Libertarians, I know it’s the price we pay to have true professionals that know all the ins and outs of their trade. I know. It was still utterly revolting.

In the end, it took over $10,000 to put one tired, miserable, poked and prodded old woman in the ground with a (very) modest funeral.

Afterwards, I cooked dinner for all 11 of us (with nieces and nephews,) and we supported each other the only way we know how to: we wrestled, joked, laughed, argued about old Atari games, discussed Joseph Campbell, Tolkien, and Star Wars, played cards, drank beer and wine, ate a lot of food, threw the football, and generally raised all kinds of hell.

It was one of the worst days of my life.

There’s a photo frame in the room my wife and I are sleeping in. It’s one of those old cheesy multi-photo frames with cut-out spaces for lots of different pictures. There’s me on my, what, 12th? birthday, in all my pudgy glory hamming it up beside my oldest brother (then with a Grizzly Adams beard.) There’s my grandmother (Memaw,) dead and gone since 1992. There’s my sister-in-law at 20, just before marrying my middle brother, looking absolutely stunning in spite of the '80’s hair. There are happy, sunny-day Easter photos scattered throughout of everyone, taken in the back yard.

There are photos of my mom and dad in the top left and bottom right spaces, very much like bookends to our whole family. The first one was taken in 1949 or 1950, before my parents married. My dad had been a salty battleship sailor in World War 2, and his appearance shows it. Dark shirt, with a couple of buttons open at the top, straight suit coat, with the collars lying on the outsides of his lapels. He had long, slicked-back black hair and clear blue eyes which appear nearly colorless in the photo. If I didn’t know him, I’d think he had a sullen, almost dangerous expression. Very Johnny Cash. He was a handsome man. My mom was smiling her sweet, wise smile even at 19, smartly dressed in a long coat, formal gloves, and a scarf. She has that same smile on her face in the last photo, taken in the sunshine perhaps 40 years later. She was a diabetic, but her eyesight hadn’t really started going yet. She had gained a lot of weight during the years, but she was happy.

And my dad…my dad has HER smile. He has a quiet, happy smile on his face, as if her wisdom had rubbed off…the same one he kept for 55 years when he was around my mother, joking, teasing, hugging, and kissing, whether he was horsing around near the overlook at Lookout Mountain during a family vacation, or when he was helping clean her broken and battered body after she had multiple, debilitating strokes. Such love I have never seen, and I can only hope to match.

My mother was 75 years old. She grew up in the Appalachian Mountains of Georgia during the Depression. She had a beautiful laugh and a beautiful spirit. She was full of life and counsel and smiles.

And now she’s dead, and the world keeps turning.

Heh. I understand perfectly. We have more casseroles right now than a Baptist church Sunday potluck. Thanks, DeVena. It means a lot.

Thank you all for your kindness.

My thoughts are with you and your family. I like hearing those special details, such as your description of the photos.

I’m very sorry Ogre. Few things leave a hole in your life like this. My thoughts are with you and your family.

Ogre - My most sincere condolences. It’s so hard, and hard for those of us who’ve gone through it to read. My mother has cheated death so many times. I remember her sending me and my sister out a week before my father’s death to buy grave plots. A few days before that we went with her to buy a casket and all the realted stuff. It was all horrible. At the funereal home my mother pre-made and paid for here arrangements, because she doesn’t want us to go through that when her time comes.

Again, my most sincere condolences. May your family find the peace she now has.