Venus DeMars

Venus DeMars
Glass Plate photo

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A pastel my Dad made of my Mom before I was born.

In my dream last month, the car was parked in the driveway of my Mom's house. It was winter, and I was standing over the open trunk. My job was to saw off the paws of the cat laying there. A long-hair golden cat.

I was horrified...but I knew it had to be done. I began the process... holding one arm securely, I steeled myself, and sawed through the flesh and bone with the small toothed saw not unlike a coping saw.

The cat didn't struggle, or react to pain, it just laid looking at me with sad eyes. They scanned over my face. I took another breath, and moved to the second arm, again sawing through it, feeling the resistance of bone. Then onto the left leg. Finally, as my eyes were welling with tears, I made it through the final leg.

Just as I'd finished, the cat jumped up, and slipped through a small rusted hole in the side of the trunk, into the winter snow, and running on stumps, it left bloody tracks as it slipped down a hole in the snow, and disappearing from view.

Guilt and horror overtook me. I screamed for help. I imagined the cat slowly dying from blood loss and frozen flesh. I howled in grief, tears running. I struggled with why I had done this, knowing it was wrong... why didn't I stop? why did I continue? Who'd convinced me I even had to do this? and why didn't I refuse? I hugged my sides, inconsolable, wanting to throw up.

I collapsed in the snow next to the car and curled into a ball.

The end of last month, I spent my final week in Duluth taking care of my Mom. She's now in an assisted living hospice. 5 days there now, as of this blog.

It's a good place, and has all 3 facilities for final living:

1. Independent living apartments; Come and go as you wish, within an accessible designed living complex, near help if needed.

2. Assisted Living. (where my Mom now is;) Round the clock checkins by staff. Scheduled care taking and health monitoring, 3 group meals a day, but within an apartment like living space where you're free to hang your own pictures, and bring in your own furniture, bed, tables, etc... an activity schedule.

3. End of life care; (I only asked about this, but my understanding is it's more like a hospital stay environment.)

My mom sleeps most of the time. Napping in her big chair.

During our day trip there 2 days ago, Just after her dinner, and after we'd hung some pictures we'd taken there from her house, I dialed my aunt's phone number on my cell, so I could let my Mom check in her. (My Aunt also has memory issues, and is having a hard time understanding, and remembering that my Mom has now moved.)

From my Mom's end of the quiet conversation, we heard her say she was fine, and of course she was home. "...I'm sitting in my big chair, The 'kids' are here, I'm comfortable...., Yes, every thing's fine. ....I'm just sitting..., in the house."

Then she slept again till we said goodbye, and we left for Minneapolis.

My sister said she'd stayed with her longer. Sitting in her wheelchair, they went through the halls and common spaces of the complex.

They stopped near a group of other residents who had gathered in the lobby. One resident had his acoustic guitar with him, and was singing and taking requests. I guess he sang "Don't Fence Me In" for my Mom and sister.

I still worry though.

One morning during that last week a month ago, while I stayed at her house with her, she told me over morning coffee: "It's Mine."

I asked what, and she said: "I own it now, free and clear. Last night they came and gave me the deed." she said with a smile. "I own the house now! It's mine!" I reminded her that she and my dad built the house years ago... way before I was even born, and of course she owned it... there wasn't really any deed involved, cuz they'd built it.

She just smiled.