Today, I feel a bit melancholy about the loss of my mother-in-law one year ago today. Her name was Dorothy and she was part of our daily lives for seven years prior to her death. My wife, being the youngest of seven children, was chosen to "take care of mom" by her older siblings, but we really didn't mind because for the most part, she was a lovely woman.
When she came to live with us she was mobile (could walk) and would even cook for us on occasion. She was self sufficient except for a few minor things. As the years passed her health deteriorated and she had many setbacks, as is common for a person in the ninth decade of life. For the most part, my wife became her nurse although there was limited help from Medicare. The burden of care became quite heavy on my wife and to a lesser extent for me as I attempted to do what I could to help Dorothy and to support my wife.
In the early Spring of last year, we had to move to a new home almost four hours south near Houston so I could take a new job. We arranged medical transport for Dorothy and did our best to make the trip comfortable for her. It was expensive, yet needed. The transition seemed to go quite well expect for some motion sickness on the way. Her doctor suggested that during the transition we transfer her to Hospice care. This was an inevitable transition, but still hard to do. The hospice people were great caregivers and helped us in so many ways.
In late May, Dorothy started to take a turn for the worst and things ramped up a bit for her care. New meds were introduced and more attention was provided by visiting nurses. My sweet wife was on guard 24x7 for her mother at this point. In early July we called in the family and mid morning on July 7, 2015, Dorothy took her last breath of sweet air surrounded by most of her children.
What followed was odd for my wife and me. We were familiar with grief having lost our 29 year old son just three years prior. The grief was (and is) still heavy on our hearts. In this case however, we were flush with relief and sadness all at the same time. We had full scale "mixed emotions" as the result of losing Dorothy. Our lives were suddenly simpler, yet there was an emptiness - a missing part of our hearts. We both commented that losing mom was quite different than losing our son. It didn't seem to eclipse the pain we still felt for our son.
Yet today, I sit in front of the keyboard reflecting on Dorothy and how she added to our home. Her laugh, her love for chocolate covered cherries (really anything chocolate), and her love for the birds outside her window all flood into my mind today. Life is different for us now. On the one hand we embrace the freedom we have now, while on the other we miss her presence in our life.