Monday, January 9, 2017

Robbed of seeing her children succeed

Patti worked hard throughout her life. She gave birth to Matthew, Shelby, Kathryn, and Anthony. Matthew lives over in Lubbock, Shelby is here at home with me, Kathryn lives with her husband and mother-in-law in Atlanta, Georgia, and Anthony, who goes by his stage name, Carter Frost lives in Arlington.

Matthew with two college degrees chooses to work as a food prepare at River Smith's in Lubbock.  Shelby works one the Graduate Office at Texas Tech University where she specializes in International Students. She earns over three times the pay that Pat was earning at South Pains College for over thirty years.  Shelby is right at the end of her Master's Degree. The papers are written and she just needs the committees to meet to agree on her completion. I will watch her walk the stage in May. She is planning a trip to Rome later in the year. I am supposed to go with her; we'll see. Kathryn completed her Master's Degree a few years back in Alabama. She married and lives in  beautiful home with her husband, his mother and a couple of spoiled dogs. Anthony, our actor works as a waiter in Arlington, and is currently filming a movie, "Run the Border." He had become a brilliant actor and he is happy in his life.

Patti would have been so happy to continue seeing her children mature and find their ways in life.
During the four months of her living here at home on hospice. I set pictures of all over the place, so that she could see then as she looked around. I would set her on the bed side potty and to distract her, I would point at various pictures and and with excitement in my voice, I would ask her who they were. Where do they live? What do they do. I would try to draw out little stories from her to keep those loved one in the front of her mind. I knew to try to keep her talking about her earlier life, not the one with me. By this time, her life with me was pretty much forgotten. Twenty-six years just blinked out. On a few occasions, a very few, she would remember me and tell me she loved me, but towards the end, I was "The Other One." She knew Shelby, for which I am happy for Shelby. My not being recognized as her "Ronnie, who had loved her since 1965, well, that really hurt. I cared for her as I had promised I would. I saw to her every single need. Like a baby she was. We cuddled with her in bed the last month. Either Shelby or I was with her every minute of the day and night. I avoided having Shelby help me with personal care such as baths and changing the diapers. I was a fanatic about keeping Pat clean and comfortable.

Towards the end, Patti forgot her mother, but remembered her daddy. I made a point to talk to Pat about each member of her family, promising to take care of the kids as needed. Promising to take care of my self as possible, so I could be here to look after Shelby. Then the last week, I guide her to look for her daddy and mother who were standing on the other side of the bright light. I told her it was okay to go to her daddy. He wanted to play dominos with her.  I played all of her favorite spiritual music day and night. I rubbed her favorite lotions and creams on her back and legs, arms and feet, neck and face. The lady who prepped Patti's body at the mortuary told me she was amazed that Pat's body was totally free of bed sores or pressure points. Having worked in Terminal Cancer Units for years, I know how fortunate Pat was. I am pleased that I could take care of Pat. I loved her so much and regret  that we did not have time to grow old together.  On the other hand, as I read the Alzheimer's Boards, I realize how much worse our lives could have become. Wherever she is, she is happy and disease free.

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