The New Normal

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I don’t talk a lot about my personal life here, but think this is worthy of an exception. The following is a Facebook post I made on August 21st of 2018.

There are times in life when you can be shocked, but not surprised. You may know something is coming, and you have done your best to prepare yourself for that moment, but you still find the suddenness and finality of it all leaves you shocked, and dumbfounded. 

It all began with yet another call from Mom’s nursing home. By this point, that was nearly a daily occurrence. I had gotten used to them informing me about any change in Mom’s condition, ranging from a change of socks to an extra dose of Tylenol, but that wasn’t the case this time. Instead of something mundane like a new doctor’s order, it was far more ominous.

‘We cannot control her pain anymore’, said the nurse on the other end of the line, ‘and her physical condition is continuing to deteriorate. ‘I sat in silence as I waited for the words that I dreaded to hear, but that I knew were coming.

‘We reommend hospice at this time. ‘

It’s one of the few times in my life where I have been shocked into silence.

Again, this wasn’t a surprise. This whole stay at the nursing home hadn’t gone according to plan from the very beginning. What I figured would be a brief stint in rehab wasn’t turning out that way. Instead of getting stronger like all those times before, she just kept getting weaker. The woman who had defied the odds so many times, and baffled her doctors with her miraculous comebacks was coming to the end of the line.

The following night, after consulting with her doctors, I went to see her again, and somehow found the strength and courage to tell her that she’d been recommended for hospice. After asking a couple of questions about the where and the why, she looked at me and said, ‘I think I can try that for a couple of days.’

At the time I wasn’t sure if she understood what I was telling her. In retrospect, i now realize it was me who didn’t understand. i think she knew better than I did how close she was. At the time she was admitted to hospice, we figured she had a few weeks. In reality, she had far less than that. Within five days of our conversation, she was gone.

That night though, as I sat next to her in her stifling hot room with its impossibly uncomfortable chair, I had no idea what the following hours would bring. What I did know though is that I had laundry to do, and two jobw to get ready for the next day, and started to get ready to leave. As I got up though, she grabbed my hand, with a strength and quickness that I didn’t know she still had, asked me to stay a little longer, giving me a look with her eyes that I don’t think I will ever forget. Of course, I sat back down, and stayed with her while she dozed off.

My one big regret is that I didn’t stay a little longer than I did.

A couple of days later, after we got her checked in to her room at the hospice center, I gave her a hug goodbye, and told her that I loved her. She told me that I was very special to her, and that she loved me as well.

It was the last time I ever spoke with her. The next time I saw her, she was semi-conscious at best.

It’s hard to believe, but that was over two months ago now. The ‘new normal’ is upon us, and we (the dogs, cats, and myself) are all holding our own. Two months into it though, I can tell you that the new normal will never feel anything like normal ever again.

We will go on, live our lives, and maybe even prosper, but it will never feel normal. All we can do it move forward, live our lives, and remember next time to stay a little longer with those we love.

Today, I dedicate this blog to my Mom, the woman who bought me a Realistic DX-360 for Christmas in 1987, allowed me to put up ‘all those wires’ around the house, and listened patiently while I explained to her that hearing the VL8 stations on 120m was a big deal.

Rest easy, Mom. You are loved and missed by all of us.

-Tim