August 18, 2014

Four Birds on a Tree Branch

Yesterday was a low talking day for my mother. Her voice was not strong and she seemed to strain for breath.

Earlier, on the phone, she has asked me to type up clarification about “this new program I’m in,” to help her remember what hospice is, what it does and what is different for her.

It’s hard to know how honest to be with her about her condition. When I explained hospice to her, I called it ‘palliative care’ because hospice has such a strong association with dying. And, really, hospice is about the care of a patient, helping to make him or her comfortable during terminal illness. Hospice is not a death sentence, it’s a pledge to care and to comfort.

My mother is either forgetting the seriousness of her conditions or is in denial about her prognoses. It’s likely that her bewilderment is a combination of both.

Yesterday she remarked, as she often does, that she’s tired of being sick and is anxious to get better.

Later, in the same conversation, she looked out towards the sky and told us that she envisions four birds on a tree bark (we assume she meant branch) waiting to fall.

“Evelyn was first, so that’s minus one, and now I am waiting to fall,” she said.

Here is a perfect example of how her brain is operating: my mother can make a beautiful analogy like this, but have it mixed up. Evelyn was the first of her cousins to become ill, but she is alive and living well at home with an aide.

Still, I am happy to have this lovely way to describe her circumstances to her. I wonder if she will remember the picture in her mind of the four birds on a branch.

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