She only stayed in the hospital one night and was sent back to her apartment at the assisted living facility. My brother Matt was not well enough to check on her. My sister Terry called and asked that the staff check on her more frequently, wondering if we could pay for a higher level of care for her to be better looked after.
Fast forward several days. It is now December 30th or 31st. Matt and his wife still have severe flu/cold symptoms. Matt's wife, Michelle called our cousin to see if he would check on mom. He found mom lying at the foot of her bed in a fetal position. I am not sure if Frank then helped her up or if she couldn't move at all but I know when Matt came the next day she was in severe pain and unable to move. Matt called the ambulance (as he couldn't get her to move) and they took her to the emergency room.
What happened from there is a huge blur in my mind. It seemed like forever until the test results came back showing that the bone surrounding the hardware in mom's hip had disintegrated. Not long after that she was diagnosed with a blood infection that was later found to be caused from the hardware and causing the bone disintegration. Surgery was scheduled and canceled several times, until finally on January 10 the metal hardware was removed and a concrete, antibiotic soaked spacer was put in it's place.
My sister Renee arrived January 1st or 2nd and was by mom's side reading scripture with her, singing to her and praying with her during the long days of much pain and waiting until surgery. Renee said her last goodbyes to mom on Friday January 11th and headed to pick up my sister Terry from the airport. Terry flew in at Tampa and together they drove to Orlando, stayed in a hotel so Terry could drop Renee off for her flight in the early AM on the 12th.
Terry went straight to the hospital where she found mom droopy on one side, the victim of a stroke. Mom's speech was slurry, her left side useless. Sunday mom called out for Drew several times before Terry realized she meant my Drew. Mom wanted Drew to pray with her, which he did. That was the last day mom could communicate with us in words. I cannot express how thankful I am that Drew noticed his phone vibrate and answered it! I type with tears rolling down my face in thanksgiving for God's mercy, remembering the tears I cried at church that morning, excusing myself from my seat to cry in the bathroom and stock up on tissues. I hesitated to return and pausing in the hall remember the hug of a sister in Christ and fresh tears all over again. How the Lord uses a body of believers to comfort in so many ways.
The stroke left mom unable to swallow and late Thursday, January 17th she was moved a very nice hospice house. Rita, her husband Tim and I all arrived Thursday PM. Dawn arrived Thursday or Friday, I can't remember. I will never forget walking into the room at the hospice house and seeing mom laying there. All I could think was how beautiful she looked. Not some super model - outward, who cares beauty, but the beauty of a woman with strong character. The beauty of a woman who had raised 7 children who had all risen up and called her blessed. The beauty of a mom who took the time to lay down on the floor and color a picture with me when I was a little girl. The beauty of swinging with her on our front porch swing in Michigan. The beauty of someone who never complained or spoke poorly of anyone. The beauty of a woman who met a struggling couple, owners of a Christian book store and let them live with us a for several months (when money was tight on our part). The beauty of a mother who told me it was wrong to boss my husband around. The beauty of a woman who opened our house up every holiday and many Sunday afternoons to widows, or widowers. This beautiful mom laying there on that bed! Oh and she looked so, so amazingly beautiful.
She labored over every breath as she lay there. Her eyes opened and she recognized us as we cried over her, hugged her, spoke to her, sang to her and said our goodbyes. I stayed with her that night, thinking it could be her last. By 2:30 AM her breathing evened out as she seemed to fall into a sleep and we both slept for a time. The next several days she was surrounded by her children coming and going. Mark came several times. Aunt Maxine, Frank, Uncle Bill all came and went. We sat and shared memories, sang songs, held her hand, washed her head with wet clothes and then early in the morning on January 21st she moaned and breathed her last, with Dawn and Rita in the room.
Her struggle over.
Her, full of beauty.
(I am sure I got some details in this story wrong, my apology. If you have the correct info please leave it in a comment or email it to me.)