July 20, 2016
My sweet mama died around 9 a.m this morning. With the guidance of the hospice nurse, Carol, we undressed, cleaned, and rubbed lotion all over her thin, limp, lifeless body. We picked out one of her favorite summer dresses, bright yellow with flowers, put fresh clean flowery sheets on her bed, even a fresh Depends on her bottom, combed her hair, and arranged her as pleasant and lifelike in her bed as possible. We cried and laughed the whole time—the whole atmosphere in her bedroom begs for comic (cosmic) relief.
Her death, like life, was far from ideal but the hospice nurse assured us it was a very good death—a role model death for the rest of us. Another day I might dive into the differences of opinion between my youngest sister and I regarding the easing of her last hours on earth, but for now I let those differences be. I’m grateful to both of my sisters for all their help, for many years now, assuring that our parents die at home, in their own bed, with their Dutch-Indonesian eating habits and all their lifelong idiosyncrasies respected.
I’m still a bit shell shocked from it all . . . so intense to step back into the stream of life without a part of me back in the bed with my mother. She was so brave—showing me what to do and also what I don’t want to do, when my own time of departure is at hand.
We’ll keep my mom in her bed till 9 p.m. tonight. Then come the funeral folks to take her to be cremated . . . I’ll come back tonight to witness this last step . . . Hospice recommended we don’t wait till tomorrow, due to the warm temperature.
When I left the house, my father was eating pancakes in the kitchen, and three of my mom’s granddaughters were sitting by her bed, seeing death, possibly seeing a corpse for the first time. Tonight, I’ll massage my dad’s feet as usual, and get a sense of his state of mind now that his wife of 68 years has gone to her heavenly home, as he describes it . . .
I feel so relieved that my mother’s days of lingering in bed, growing weaker, the not knowing how she was feeling as she waved her skeletal arms in the air, are over . . . I’m glad that her end-of-life wondering and confusion over dropping the body has come to an end.
Photo: My mother in Den Haage, Holland, when she was still known by her maiden name, Maria Schreiner Vermeer.
Marriage to my father, Rene Ferry Diets, August 20, 1948
Nine months later, with me, Susanna Francina Diets, born May 24, 1949