I came down to Las Vegas in June 2012 to give my sister, Sarah E an opportunity to take her husband on vacation for two weeks and to enjoy total irresponsibility. I moved into her house and spent the two weeks taking care of our 97 year old mother, Norah Marie. Then I spent the following week making slip covers for my daughter Sarah P before, I thought, returning to the relative coolness of a Salt Lake summer.
During that week my mother fell and exacerbated at old injury to her knee and Sarah E asked me if I would stay a while and help care for Mum as she was bedridden. I moved back to my room at Norah’s house. The physical therapy folks came several times a week and Mum was soon up and about on her walker. However, she decided, in the middle of the night, to check on her 16 year old grandson and fell, breaking her right wrist. That was quite a set-back and significantly increased the care-load.
Sarah E had learned about Solari Hospice from friends and decided to enroll Mum in their program – given her age and her recent injuries. Soon Mum had a “spa lady” who came to shower her twice a week and a nurse who came once a week to check on her health – and access to social workers and a spiritual counselor – Father Steve. Without this dedicated team for backup – they came every time we called – we would not have been able to maintain Mum in her own home.
In the early Fall 2012 Sarah E discovered she had cancer, and started chemo therapy and radiation treatments – and I moved into her back bedroom as she could no longer care for Mum by herself. In January she had surgery and a second – reversal – surgery in June. She has since been pronounced “cancer-free.”
I spent my days taking care of my mother, sitting in the blue rocker by her french doors, doing genealogy, and being “Granny Jammin”- crocheting texting mitts for sale at Jammin On Haight. Sarah E slept with Mum at nights so that she was never alone.
Every day Mum would supervise me feeding the birds in the back yard – we ended up with over a hundred doves and pigeons in our “Breakfast Club.” The constant comings and goings of doves, pigeons, and a wide variety of sparrow and finches to the bird feeders – and even a few hummingbirds to the feeder – meant that there was constant movement in the back yard and always something to watch.
Mum slowly declined until she passed away peacefully in her sleep on September 16, 2013.