Monday, March 8, 2010

Goodbye, Mother Millie

This is a hard one to write but I feel I have to.  It's sad and depressing and it was a major event in our lives.  We just have to live through it as best we can and then continue on looking for the good, being positive, and knowing that you have to accept the sad with the joyful. 

My Bob's mother, my mother-in-law, Millie, passed away last Tuesday evening in Cincinnati.  It was 12 days before her 79th birthday.  She had a longer than expected bout with pancreatic cancer.  She was diagnosed last March and already at a stage 4.  At that time they gave her 3 months without chemo and radiation and 8 months if she decided to go that route, which she did.  She did so well and looked so good even up to the 10 month point that I think we all thought she might just beat all odds and go on as if this was just a bad dream and never really happened.  Then at Christmas we went to Cincinnati to visit and she was looking thin and weak.  We knew then that the dream was turning into a nightmare.  Bob decided that he wanted to make a trip to see his mother once a month to spend as much time with her as he could.  So in January we made another trip to visit and we actually thought she was doing pretty well.  She was still thin, but wanted to go grocery shopping, so we did.  Then she wanted to stop by the Eagles Club to sign the book for the weekly lottery, so we did.  Then she wanted to go out to dinner, so we did.  She had as much energy as me if not more.  In looking back, I think she was just excited that we were there and happened to be having a good day.  We promised her we would be back around her birthday, March 14, and we talked with Bob's five sisters and one brother about possibly having a party for her around that time.
Then we started hearing from the sisters around the end of February that we should maybe move the birthday visit up a little as she was getting tired and weak.  We set this past weekend aside for our Cincinnati visit.  We stayed in daily contact with a couple of the sisters and knew that things were going downhill.  Bob talked with his mother daily and could tell a difference in her voice and comprehension.  He would tell her we were coming down on March 5th to try to boost her up a little.  It wasn't working.  Wednesay a week ago we got a call from Debbie, Bob's oldest sister, that she had taken Millie into the hospital because she was filling back up with fluids and thought they would drain the fluid, as they had done once before, and send her back home.  That's not what happened.  They told her there was no use in draining the fluid again as it would cause more pain now and she would fill up again even faster and they admitted her into the Hospice unit. 
Bob and I started making arrangements to leave for Cincinnati.  We both talked to Millie on the phone and she sounded OK.  Bob had to re-arrange his appointments for the following week and I started packing, asked my parents to keep Ellie Mae (my black poodle) and we would take Fergie (my apricot poodle) with us, and talked with my DIL to postpone our grandson's birthday dinner that we were going to have here last weekend.  We left for Cincinnati on Friday not sure of how long we would be gone or what to expect when we got there.  We drove 6-1/2 hours (it should have taken 7 hours) and went directly to the hospital. 
We were not prepared for what we saw.  The difference and drastic decline in Millie in one month was big.  She was extremely thin, lost all her hair, and was obviously in a lot of pain.  I know it took Bob by surprise and I just started to cry. 
Without going into a lot of very sad and painful details, she got continuosly worse every day.  She talked a little bit when we first arrived on Friday, and by Sunday she couldn't talk at all.  The diloted (pain medicine) was steadily increased until it was changed to a morphine drip by Tuesday morning.  Bob stayed by her side from about 6:30 in the mornings until late in the evenings, taking small breaks to eat or go back to his sister Debbie's house close by for a nap.  That Tuesday he had just left her side at 5:00 pm to come back to the house to get something to eat and just as he was leaving to go back up to the hospital at 6:25, his brother called to say she had passed away.  With seven children, there was always at least a son, daughter, daughter in law, son in law, boyfriend of a daughter, granddaughter or grandson by her side.  Millie had eight children but Bob's brother's twin passed away 10 years ago today.  Needless to say, that is also weighing heavy on the familie's minds right now.  Millie also had four brothers and sisters that visited in and out and she had a boyfriend of 38 years, ever since she and Bob's dad divorced.  Larry spent the night with her each night she was in hospice, except for the night he showed up drunk and Bob's sister, Brenda, took him home with her.  Larry is one year older than Bob.
You're probably starting to get the whole background picture now.  There was total chaos and uphevel going on behind the scenes for this whole week.  This is too much to go into right now.  These stories could take at least one other post.
Bob and Debbie made all the funeral arrangements the following morning and they did a beautiful job.  The funeral was Friday from 11:00 to 3:30 and everything went well and it was a well attended (family alone was a large crowd) funeral. 
We headed home directly from the cemetary.  Bob's job was done and done well.  He was there for his mother and it was comforting to stay with Debbie and her husband.  The behind the scenes turmoil was just too much to take.  We couldn't wait to get back home and try to calm back down into our comparatively good life. 
We now smile when we think of good times with Millie, the vacations that we took her on with us, and how she made us laugh.  We are trying to get the images of the last 5 days of her life out of our mind.  We don't want to remember her that way.  We are so glad she is no longer in pain and in a much better place.


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