Well… I hope to write more about her soon and for a while… but a brief post to put it out there into the world that mom isn’t around any more.
Her four children, now adults, and her eldest grandchildren, my sister’s sons and daughter, have been at her side for the last few days, which mom spent at bed 2 of the Cardiac Care Unit of Western Medical Center in Santa Ana. Mom fell a week ago, Thursday July 21st, sustaining massive damage to her brain. She underwent an operation on Friday July 22nd and never regained consciousness.
She always told us that she never wanted to live on life support… and even requested that if any of us ever encountered her in an open casket that we should immediately run up and kick it shut. It was very difficult for her to spend time in hospitals… so… though we still harbored some hope of some sort of miraculous recovery… this past Friday, we all talked about what to do, and came to the conclusion that, if her condition didn’t take a dramatic turn for the better (or worse) that we would withdraw life support on Sunday – today.
My brothers, Matt, Mark Fletcher, my sister Liz and her teen children Garrett, Miles, and Paige, assembled at the hospital this morning. Mom was calm, breathing, unresponsive… in about the same unconscious state that she’s been in the past week. We said tearful goodbyes. We notified the nurse of our decision. She called in the neurologist and he walked us through the steps… stating that he suggests calling it “letting nature take its course” and not “pulling the plug” as we inarticulately requested.
At a little after 11:00am, she was given pain killers, and “extubated” which is to say that the respirator, medicinal and nutrition delivery tubes were pulled from her nose and mouth. My sister and I stayed in the room… watching mom peacefully decline. She was initially breathing, but any hint of motion declined and ceased. Her monitor showed heatbeat, which was steadily dropping. Her breathing stopped completely and after two minutes, so, too did her heart. She died just before noon.
She lives on in the lives of those she touched… as a mother, grandmother, a long-time medical librarian, an insatiable theater partron, a reader, a lover of art, good food, cacti… a hard-working generous woman.