Saturday, March 24, 2012

End Game - 3 of four

Almost three weeks before she passed away, Ruth lost the use of her left leg. She had come down to dinner one evening and her leg just wouldn’t work. We called for an ambulance and she went into the hospital that night. They couldn’t do much for her there. Tests showed up nothing. Her doctor suspected a stroke and looking at her over all condition (progressing breast cancer, a seeming lack of will to go on, and lack of appetite), he surmised that she had less than six months, and maybe sooner.

A couple of days later she was transferred to the Mount View Nursing Home in Moundsville for physical rehab to see if she would be able to stand on both legs. She made no progress. After a week we were making arrangements for her to come home. We had heard the usual horror stories about nursing homes and thought it would be better for her at home. On one hand she slept long hours. On the other hand, we were told she needed care 24/7. Assessing the situation, we realized it would be overwhelming for us to have her at home. We saw her condition was deteriorating. The doctor ordered hospice care to visit her at the nursing home. And the staff we met at Mount View dispelled our stereotypes. They were kind and competent and attentive. They made every endeavor to satisfy our concerns.

On the last evening Ruth was fully conscious, Ruci sat at her bedside. Somehow her mother’s age came up. When her mother asked, Ruci told her that she was 95. Ruth was surprised to hear that she was so old.

Ruci told her, “You’re not really that old. That’s the age of your body. But you feel youthful, don’t you?”

Her mother understood the distinction. She said yes, she felt young and different than her body.

“That’s because you are not this body. You are the soul,” Ruci continued, “and you, the soul, are eternally youthful.”

At this point Ruth’s eyes lit up. She was totally present and attentive to her daughter’s every word.

Ruci continued. “Krishna is in your heart. He is your dear most friend and He is always with you.” And they recited the Hare Krishna prayer together.