Today was Joey's first day of fifth grade. He was really happy because he got the teacher he wanted and his best friend is in his class for the year! Five years ago on Joey's first day of kindergarten I got a call from my father telling me that my mother was seriously ill and in the hospital. They did not know what was wrong with her but she had lost a lot of weight and could not eat. They were doing all sorts of tests but they did not know if she would make it. I had to pack up Joey and we headed up to Arkansas as Bob took charge of the older boys. Thus began the long series of hospital stays, frailties, organ failures, surgeries, broken bones, and pneumonias.
The battle finally ended Tuesday, August 19, 2008. I really still can not define what went wrong. Except that everything went wrong. She did not have cancer. She was only 71. She had taken anti seizure medication for 35 years, which caused severe osteoporosis. The alternative was to probably die of a seizure at a young age.
I am relieved that this episode is over. I wish I could say that I feel no guilt about administering the morphine which relieved her pain, but hastened her death. I felt a lot better about it 12 years ago when my Grandmother Bullock was under hospice care and the nurse gave her morphine. The hospice my mother was under prescribed the morphine but the family administered it. Maybe this is part of the advancements we have made in medical science over the last 12 years.
My mother was really close to death several times over the last 5 years. Her main concern was that she would not have a decent funeral. I promised her years ago that I would make sure she was buried in her temple clothes, that the funeral would be held in a church, that an LDS bishop would preside at the funeral, and that she would have flowers. I think she imagined that my father would not know what to do and would just do the traditional Stockam graveside service with a Baptist preacher who would not know the deceased and would deliver a fire and brim stone sermon.
So I did my best to put together a nice funeral that would have made her happy. My sister Deanna and my niece Kathleen helped me dress her appropriately. She was so small that it was pretty easy. I really don't think she weighed 80 pounds when she died. We had to fix her hair. I do not know what the beautician was thinking but we walked into the room an were aghast to find the hair styled in some weird spiky punk rocker/ lesbian biker style. A can of hairspray and a comb helped. Fortunately most of her hair was covered by her veil. We also had put on some makeup. It seems like when you get to some of these back woods mortuaries they are afraid of offending God by putting makeup on the deceased. I had Bob drive the 15 miles from the house to bring me makeup. When we finished she looked beautiful!
We were able to provide family members to do all of the program except for playing the piano. Everyone did so well. It was one of those funerals that you could walk out of and just feel like hugging almost everybody.
I was really grateful that we did not have any tantrums or fights at the funeral, burial, or family dinner. Stockam funerals are known for dramatics and some of my worst memories are of these episodes. Now that the funeral is over the family gossip will fly ,so if you hear any questionable rumors about me, there may be an element of truth to them, but please don't give me the opportunity to defend myself. I really don't want to hear what everyone is saying because some of the past gossip has been really hurtful.
It is kind of hard to be around people who can be so unkind, ungrateful,cruel and rude, while putting a happy face on myself and trying not lose control or give them more ammunition. I know that not all families are like this. I know that not everyone in this family is like this. I have my husband, my children, and a wonderful son-in-law who love me! I have a sister and her family who work as hard or harder than I do to try to create beauty and harmony in a senseless situation.
When I got home last night at 9:30 Bob helped me unload the car. I sat down and was thinking about the events of the last 8 days. I found myself crying. I had been so busy and so on guard up in Arkansas that I could not shed a tear.
My mother was a wonderful woman who did the best she could with the hand she had been dealt. She was learning disabled and she had an extreme speech impediment. We all had to pull together. My sisters and I grew up with a lot of responsibility early on. We had to interpret for my mother because she was so hard to understand. Most of the time we did a good job at this but I have to admit that we were not always saints. There was no one to help us with homework. I remember tutoring my younger sister Deanna for hours every day. I was only 2 years older than her. It was a miracle that I would be willing to teach her and even more of a miracle that she would be willing to listen and learn. My mother always made sure we went to church. That was really hard because we never lived close to a church and she could not drive. She just called people and asked them to give us rides. Like I said, she did her best and she never gave up. I love her and I miss her. I know Mormon doctrine is that when people die their spirit leaves the body. The spirit does not have limitations like learning disabilities or speech problems. And when we are resurrected we will have perfect bodies to match our spirits. I just can not imagine my mother as a normal person, even though I longed for that so much while she was alive. How will I recognize her? These probably sound like stupid questions. But I bet that almost everyone who has lost a disabled loved one has similar issues. Heavenly Father, help this midshipman's mother.
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