Years ago, my dad died, on his own terms, in his own way;
and, mom was left to live alone in her chair by herself.
She blamed him for her misery as the house fell apart.
We chose an assisted living close by and sold the homestead.
She was happy in her chair with the TV to keep her company.
Ailments worsened, though, and the doctor said she couldn’t stay.
So, she had to move; but, I did not want to warehouse her.
Alas, without space or time, it had to be a nursing home.
To compensate, my brothers and I visited more than before.
One morning it dawned on her she couldn’t go back,
she got upset and wagged her finger at me, “I was no good”.
“I had left her to die,” and, she demanded someone take her in.
There was no other way, though, and I for my part prepared.
The financier was gracious and the lawyer was kind.
She was not ready, though, and defiantly denied death.
Always a finicky eater of bland food, eventually,
the peanut butter and jelly with coffee diet
couldn’t sustain her, and she lost a lot of weight.
The long-suffering staff prudently suggested
that with sweet mercy hospice care be initiated.
With a new audience to hear her stories, mom rallied.
I broached the topic of dying with her gingerly.
Blind from dry eyes she stared at me and with a falsetto scream
let me know that death was for other people.
At my wits end, I was at a loss what to do,
and then accidentally I found the way in;
a rosary blessed by the Pope, we had brought back from Rome.
Obviously happy and with true fervor she clutched the beads.
With lips moving but without a voice, she said Hail Mary’s
“now and at the hour of our death” resonated with quivering.
For weeks, we did that every time I visited,
Hospice was called, and the family gathered for the Last Rite.
On my last visit she kissed me good-bye and said, “Thank you”.