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  • by Carolyn Lackey

The Man Who Was, and Then He Wasn't

Yesterday was an emotional day for me. Ninety-one-year-old Meems has been experiencing pain in her legs and hips. She's been sleeping deeply for the past 4 or 5 days with occasional wakeful moments. She's lost 8 pounds in 2 weeks. And then, a few days ago she STOPPED EATING EGGS. When my little mother stops ordering 2 eggs "over easy" for breakfast every morning, great change is a-brewing. We Kinzbachs are lovers of eggs - boiled, scrambled, poached, and most definitely "over easy."

But, that pain though.

After a tearful conversation with Shirley, our doctor's right-hand woman, Hospice care seemed to be the logical choice. Think of Hospice care like little angels hovering over a waning human sprinkling peace and comfort upon his or her head. While Meems' plan is to live to be 100 years old so that she can see her picture on a Smucker's jar, my plan is that she will get there in a pain-free, bedsore-free, egg eatin' manner. I want it to RAIN peace and comfort all UP in he-yah.

There was a man in the Old Testament named Enoch. He was the great-great-great-great-grandson of good old Adam and Eve. I can never remember his name. I refer to him as the-man-who-was-and-then-he-wasn't. Even Siri can't remember his name.

Altogether, Enoch lived a total of 365 years. Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more because God took him away. Gen 5:22

That's the man I'm talkin' about. He lived a full, LONG life. Then, poof he was gone.

That's exactly what I want for my little mother. A quiet, simple, joyful journey. No hospital. No rehab. No IVs. No catheters. She will simply sleep. She will be. And, then she won't.

Her eyes now slowly, partially open like sluggish turtle eyes. This morning, when she roused enough to get a good look at me, she smiled weakly and softly murmured, "Carolyn." I thought about the joy I felt the first time each of my sons was able to say, "Mama." There's something about being called by name - verification, acknowledgment, a meeting of the minds. I "see" you. (So, so sorry that I can never remember yours. I love you, AND I can't think of your name.)

Meems has rallied from her death bed 4 times since she moved to Lubbock in 2010. Alan has made his "she's lived a long full life you don't want her to hurt" speech 4 times. During each episode, I've cried like Ricky Shroeder in The Champ. Brain surgery, a mastectomy, a badly broken hip, and pneumonia have all been unable to take her down. She's a tough lady.

So many of you, dear friends, have traveled this road before me. Some of you are still fresh in your grief. A familiar song. The smell of hot pancakes. A Murder She Wrote rerun. Your tears are at the ready in the corners of your eyes. Somehow knowing that you're familiar with this journey brings me comfort. I can't see you, yet I know that you are with me.

All is well for now. I'm just thinking of Hospice as really good home health care. I try not to let words like "palliative" and "comfortable" get me distressed or distracted.

She will be. And, then she won't. Angels and men rejoice.

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