She had dialysis 3 days a week for about 4 hours each time. But there were many times when she skipped dialysis because she was too weak to go. That would put her right back in the hospital for at least a week. She developed hypertensive encephalopathy from her uncontrollable high blood pressure. It causes blood to leak from the arteries into the brain tissue, which damages the brain. It eventually causes vascular dementia.
On the morning of Sept 12, after her dialysis, she had surgery to replace her faulty pacemaker. She came through the surgery fine and seemed to be recovering well. In the evening, though, she began to be agitated and said she was burning up, even though her body temperature was well below normal. I had been with her all day and could not stay that night. I was close to my limit on sleep deprivation, which causes seizures for me. So I left her about 9:30 p.m. in the constant care of an ICU nurse.
At 2:14 a.m., my cell phone rang, and I knew that could not be good. The nurse said I needed to come to the hospital, because she had taken a turn for the worse. I knew. They did not tell me she was gone, but I knew. I remembered the morning that my mom had gotten the call when her own mother died in 1972. They said she had taken a turn for the worse. But Mamma knew what it meant. And of course, there was then night that Steve got the call when our little daughter died. They said she had taken a turn for the worse. My mom went with him, but she understood what it meant.
Hospitals are so careful not to say someone has died. So they say they have taken a turn for the worse. It’s just hospital speak for death.
Steve and I got to the hospital about 30 minutes later, and the nurses tried to stop me from going in her room. I told them to just let me go in. They did not need to prepare me. Steve was still parking the car, so I walked in her room alone. She looked so peaceful, and I knew she finally was. She had fought us so many times during her episodes of terrible dementia. There were many times we had to restrain her. We did not have to do that anymore. God had seen fit to take her home with Him. The nurse, Christi, told me that Mamma had told her she was tired. I know she was. She was finally healed. Completely.
She had still been living at home with Daddy, and he had been able to take care of her, for the most part. My sisters and I helped when we were needed, particularly when she was in the hospital. But he had reached the point of not being able to care for her anymore. He could not lift her and she had no strength of her own left. We were facing having to put her in a nursing home, or what they now call a “skilled nursing center.” It sounds better than nursing home. But Mamma did not want to go. She had a fear of us abandoning her to a nursing home. We were dreading having to make that decision. God took that decision away from us, and we praise Him for that.
She died the day before she would have been 75 years old. On Sept. 14, I posted on Facebook that she was having the best birthday ever. In a few short days, it will be the first Christmas we have ever spent without her. But her Christmas celebration will be far better than any she has ever had here on earth.
Her funeral truly was a celebration of her life. We had both the visitation and funeral at our church, where she was a member for 69 years. Bethany and I sang, and our pastor’s daughter joined us for Amazing Grace. I did “It is Well With My Soul.” Then we closed with “Precious Memories.”
At the end of the service, we showed a slide show that Steve put together. He used a song I had been practicing to sing in church. It was perfect, but I don’t know if I will ever be able to sing it now.
We miss her, but we do not grieve as some do, that have no hope. We know she has been promoted to the place she dreamed of all her life. She is there now, with her parents and with our daughter, Rachel, who died Feb. 7, 1984. And she is buried next to them, also. But best of all, she is there with Jesus Christ, who died in her place, to take the punishment for her sins.
He has done the same for all of us. All we have to do is accept his free gift.
13 Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. 14 We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.