This section came about when I started talking to a woman about her experience when her husband died of cancer. She talked about the people she met who affected her life and it got me thinking. Mom spent months on and off in the hospital during her sickness and then for an entire month at the end. People came in and out of our lives during this time and left their marks in my mind and heart. So, here is my first installment.
I first met Kim in University. We took a few classes together and where we were in a bunch of classes together and worked together on a few projects. After graduation, we worked in the same field - me in crisis, her with domestic violence. We ran into each other regularly, but had no more than passing contact.
The first week Mom was admitted on the Palliative ward, I ran into her again. Her father was in the room down the hall. Her family roamed the halls of the hospital with us. We shared quiet times, copious amounts of food and the process of dying.
I ran into her this weekend and introduced her to friends. It was hard for the first words out of my mouth not to be "This is Kim. Our parents died together." She asked how Dad was doing (her family really adored Dad. Like I keep saying - strangers love him). I got to see her new twins and chat for a bit. It was nice to see her, but it reminded me of a different time.
#47: Karen the nurse
Karen took real interest in our family. Not just dedicated to my mother's care, but also how the family was dealing with everything. She was a typical Palliative nurse. Soft heart, strong attitude, lots of humour and patience. She gave me her home phone number after Mom died and offered to talk if I needed.
I never called. Sometimes, you just don't want to remember.
#48: Dr Itchy Scratchy
My mother couldn't stand him before she got sick. During her sickness, she didn't want him anywhere near her. Dad physically removed him from her room one day. He was unethical and overbearing and cocky and rude. Mom called him "Itchy Scratchy" because he always kept one hand in his pocket.
"Feisty" is the only word to describe this woman. Red headed and red tempered, she was one of Mom's greatest friends. She took care of Mom at home every day for months - she just "happened" to be assigned to our home. She made great fun of everything in a crisp sardonic manner. Dad lovingly called her "Nurse Kratchet" as she was the only one who could make Mom do anything she didn't want. She was the only one of Mom's work friends to keep in touch afterwards. She was tough enough to handle looking at us without remembering. Either that, or she enjoyed the pain. I wouldn't put it past her.
Dorothy came into our lives after Mom's brain surgery. Mom was partially paralyzed and needed more assistance than we could give her by ourselves. Dorothy came in to assist with menial tasks, with personal care and with house work. She was a kind woman and had one of the toughest jobs I can think of - get really attached to a family waiting for their loved one to die. And when they do, move on to another family in the same situation. She was like a Palliative Littlest Hobo.