She had a sense of humor. Even in her most confusing and struggling times, her mind was always there, waiting to jump out just at the right time and make you laugh.
She resembled a light in a dark place.
18 months. That’s how long I knew her. I was her caretaker, her chef, her aide, her therapist, and her friend. Yes, I cleaned up her poo and performed Heimlich because she thought my steak bites were too small for her and decided to shove two pieces in her mouth at one time.
She was a stubborn woman.
She told me stories of her mom and grandmother. Though sometimes confused of the current year, due to Parkinson’s disease, she was able to tell me what she was wearing 20 years ago, what color it was, and where she bought it.
We shared stories of traveling and places she recommends for me to go. She loved scarves, particularly, one she bought in Italy (or maybe Egypt). Though sometimes confused that she no longer lived in New Jersey, I would still humor her and go searching for this scarf, then must remind her that she was in Florida.
Some moments were sad.
“I am proud of you because you tried.” Those are the words she would hear every day from me. I refused to let her believe that she couldn’t do something. This ultimately became a hazard because even though she was unable to walk, she sure tried to escape from her bed during the night.
When she became depressed and started responding with “I don’t care”, I was there for her.
I involved her doctors and family. Dedicated my personal time to research and speaking with professionals regarding medication and activities. We had long and confusing talks about why she should care. She expressed feelings of loneliness because her daughters didn’t visit as often as she wanted. I would pick up the phone and say, “let’s call them.”
Every morning I would knock on her door and bring her a smile. Every night I refused to leave until she told me she didn’t need anything else and she was content. There were nights I was forced to leave her squirming in anxiety.
My drive home was silent, hoping to send her some inner peace.
In my time of absence, I was told, she would call out for me and ask when I was coming home. When I returned, we would joke, I told her that my cot was not far, just in the back yard.
Practicing medicine, I have experienced sickness and death many times, but it is always sad to see the light of someone you are so close to dim.
Laying in the hospital bed, she responded to my voice, even if her eyes were closed, she would nod and blink. I was told she wouldn’t respond to anyone else.
I would touch her shoulder, speak firmly in her ear, have her concentrate on my voice.
The last gift she gave me was not meant for me at all.-
She asked me to lay next to her. The bed was little and brought pain to my body.
But I did it anyway.
Once I was no longer getting a response, I looked into her eyes, examined her pupil, and had to face reality, she was leaving her body.
With no response, I told her I would be back. I knew that death’s cards were winning.
My question remains, did it?
I am Katrina.