My mother died last Friday. She was 82 years old. She has had Alzeimer for several years and has been in a care home since June 2008. She had asthma for many years. She had been having increasing difficulty breathing and with that came a diagnosis of late stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. I visited Winnipeg in October last year and at the end of January this year. Her death was sudden, apparently due to a cardiac episode. The last few years were confusion, distress and illness, the end of her life was inevitable, painless and not too soon.
My sisters and brothers in Winnipeg have coped with the issues of my mother’s terminal illness and my father’s decline and psychological collapse with much hard work and many tears. Dad is in the care home. In the last couple of months before mother died, he was failing in self care and unable to change the course of mother’s illness. He was getting disconnected with reality, although his love and affection never wavered. He seems to have become more lucid, but much sadder after the funeral today.
He has mentioned some old stories that I had never heard before, and would not have understood when I had less lines on my face. His mother had visited from Holland in the early or mid 1960’s. My father had not gone back to Holland when his father had died, and he had tried never to look back on his decision to move to Canada. His mother had told him, he remembered, that his mother had reservations about Rosa. She was older than him and “bossy” which was probably a way of saying what we might call needy, as she was always emotionally expressive, and defensive of her self-regard. He said that his mother had tried to say that she was surprised at how well Rosa was doing as a wife and mother, but he had found the remark hurtful.
My brother in law Joe accepted the task of delivering a eulogy at the funeral. He spoke well, emphasizing on the positive elements of her last few years. She became a happier person, more “in the moment” more content to take and give a smile and thumbs up and to wish anyone well with “keep up the good fight”. He found the right picture and captured her strength as a mother.