A number of Melissa’s and my prior posts have discussed aging parents, dealing with dementia, being a caregiver, and the like. Because we’re sharing our journey, I’m writing to report the end of a portion of that journey with the recent passing of my Mom. Melissa has written about this from a different perspective; my thought today is a different one. As difficult as the journey was, and it was long and arduous, we knew what the outcome would be. Each day was better than the next one would be; there was no way to turn back time or the brain cells being attacked by dementia. So, mom’s passing was expected. But, it turned out to be unexpected in how it transpired. As much as anything, that is what surprised me when it happened. So, it took me a few hours, at least, to realize she was now free. Free of the horrible affliction of dementia. Free from the mental torment she suffered. Others have made comments like, “She’s in a better place.” I don’t know. But, what I do know is that her suffering is over, therefore, the relief I feel is comforting. All of our efforts and planning were worthwhile in ensuring that she was well cared for and that my family had our “ducks in a row.” My brothers and I tried to anticipate and plan to ensure things went well. And, in large part they did; we stayed ahead of the curve. We all feel good about that part. Caring for aging parents takes time, money, and it can be very distracting. (I guess that is the payback for when we were children.) Keeping in mind that we made her journey as comfortable as possible, and that she is now free from suffering helps lessens the grief of her passing. At least a little.
I keep hearing Martin Luther King, Jr. saying “Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty we’re free at last” as I reflect upon Carole’s passing. If one is a spiritual person, one usually believes the soul of good people go to heaven (or a similar place, according to one’s religion) when they pass on from the earthly life. According to the way both David and I were brought up, the dearly departed become “free” of all their earthly imperfections, such as illnesses, to move on to their heavenly reward. I will not debate this account of what happens or even if there is anything such as “the afterlife,” but I will say that, whatever happens to Carole, it had better be wonderful. Of all the people I have known, Carole was one of the most kind, caring, and genuine among them. To say she didn’t deserve all of the suffering she endured for the 4 years prior to her death from dementia is an understatement. She told me, many times, that when she could no longer take care of herself, she wanted to be placed in a rocking chair, on an iceberg, and be sent out to sea. I usually remarked that, in Florida, it would be hard to find an iceberg, then we laughed hilariously about the whole idea. Sadly, however, I believe she had been, figuratively speaking, rocking along on an iceberg for quite some time and now, has been truly set free. And, I am confident that Carole’s new found freedom is a million times better than her life here on earth. Enjoy your freedom, Carole!