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Betty’s Still In Charge

My first thought when I woke up this morning was, “Mom is going to die soon. Maybe this week.”

Two weeks ago, I believed that Mom’s condition had been so severely compromised that she was suffering. A friend shared a similar experience with her own mother’s battle with Alzheimer’s. Because she had a living will, they were able to discontinue her tube feeding and her mother passed in peace. I thought my mother deserved that peace, as well. I asked my father to consider doing the same thing. A meeting was called with four representatives of Hospice and four people from the nursing home that has given my mother such loving care for four years. They explained that we have powerful options.

That was the most sobering hour I have ever spent. The decision was my fathers, and he spent days agonizing over it. We went to the home today to make our wishes known, but I wanted to talk to Mom first. That’s when my mother blew me away.

We walked in her room and she looked right at us. She tracked our movements with her eyes. I knew it was her. Mom. My mom. My beautiful, one-of-a-kind mother. One hundred percent, she was right there with us.

I sat on her bed with her and leaned close. “Mom,” I said firmly, “It is very important that, if you understand me, you let me know.”

The look she gave me said everything, but I wanted confirmation. “Blink” if you understand me, I said. She blinked. Then I wondered if she just blinked because she needed to blink. So I said, “Blink several times.” And then she blinked several times. But, I still didn’t want to be imagining anything.

“Betty,” my dad said. “We want to do what you want us to do for you.” I won’t share everything here because I want to respect his privacy, but he made it clear that he wanted to honor her wishes. She looked straight at him, very serious.

“Do you want to live like this?” he asked.

She looked at me, then looked at him. She smiled at him. She smiled at me.

I asked the same question. Again, she looked at Daddy and smiled. Then, at me. Another smile. Dad leaned in and she moved her head up a little. He inched toward her, and she kissed him. I leaned in closer. She kissed me.

“Are we reading you right?” I asked. “You want to keep living like this?”

She smiled again. At me, then at Dad.

We probably asked five more times,  just to be sure, but we were sure. She was sure. We told her we’ll ask again if we think she is in pain. She gave a knowing look. We’re in it together.

It proved something I said many years ago.

You don’t bet against Betty Germer.

  1. Aren’t you all blessed that your Mom can still tell you her heart’s desire, and you can all honor her wishes! I’m sure she will tell you when it’s time to move from caterpillar to butterfly.
    I’m betting on Betty! 🙂
    Love and peace from Miriam

  2. My dear Fawn,
    What a wonderful story. I couldn’t sleep tonight. I was thinking about you and your mom and I was thinking about me and my mom. I miss so much, though it has been ten years. And my dear friend, as clearly as your mother made her wishes to live known, my mother made her wishes to go equally as known. Though I doubted myself later for selfish reasons of wishing her to still be with me, I never doubted what she wanted and I was th strongest on that day that I have ever been in my life, knowing that I could be there the way she needed be to be after giving me a lifetime of love.
    You keep on smiling Betty Germer!
    and you, too my friend.
    Much love,

  3. Fawn,
    You are truly blessed. I would give anything to have had those few precious moments with my mom. Unfortunately, she could not communicate with us in her condition, but I believe in my heart that she understood we loved her and she loved us. Reading your story, I could almost see her smile and it warms my heart to think maybe that was how my mom felt also. I’m Team Betty! Keep smiling it’s contagious! I send you my love and a great big hug! 🙂

  4. Fawn, I’m so glad I read this. I wrote earlier on how well she looked. I wonder………….

  5. Fawn,
    Your story is so touching and brought me to tears because it reminded me of my own mother who passed away recently. Though for years she said she was ready to leave, she was also still independent and engaged in living. I think she loved her independence so much and was so proud that she was still able to live that way at age 90. She too was in charge.

    And then earlier this year, one day, she wasn’t. Whenever I was with her, I could see how tired she was and how everything was such an effort. One morning I went to her apartment to get her up and dressed, and she wasn’t conscious. After a week in the hospital, I decided to take her home with hospice. The decision wasn’t difficult because I knew I was respecting my mother’s wishes. And I also knew that I was ushering my mother into her new life and that it was an honor. But neither of those things made it easier.

    Wherever you are in that process today, I am sending you light, love and hugs and asking for blessings of comfort for you and your family.

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