And Then There Was One…Redux
Since April 2011 I have lost my brother, my father and now my mother.
Thea Wentz Riebsomer passed away on February 26, 2012 at 12:35 a.m., just shy of her ninety-second birthday. She died as she lived, chaotically, until the very end. I had not seen her for almost eight years. She had disowned me, having told me I ruined her life for reasons that I won’t go into here, except to say that Mother tried so hard to be loved her whole life, but the love she sought had to be on her terms and it was never quite good enough. I had made my own personal peace with our estrangement long ago.
All I ever wanted was for her to find some peace and I felt in my heart that she would never find it here on this earth. I returned to Connersville just six weeks after my dad’s death because my niece, Aimee, needed me and to help ease my mother in her passing. She had said that she was ready to go, but she was afraid. Mother had what is called terminal restlessness the last two days of her life and only calmed down with the help of morphine and, strangely, my presence. Aimee told her I was on my way and she nodded. Mother had been staying with my niece for two weeks, since she was diagnosed as terminal, due to congestive heart failure.
I wish that she had had a happier life, that she had made better choices for herself. She was smart, funny and beautiful. I don’t think she believed those things about herself. In the end she was surrounded by people who cared about her. The great fear she had of dying alone did not come to pass. Her youngest granddaughter Beth, who lives in Michigan, was on her shoulder via cell phone until the very end, her nurse, her oldest granddaughter Aimee, her former daughter-in-law, Pam, her estranged daughter, and her pastor and his wife surrounded Mother with love and light. This odd mix of people took such good care of her and in that she was very fortunate.
I talked to my mother for nine straight hours as I tried to get her to let go. It’s hard work to convince someone who has never been known as cooperative into floating away. She was unable to respond, but I know she heard me. I told her I knew that she loved me and she squeezed my hand. When I started talking to her about her beloved Panama City Beach, Florida, where she wintered for twenty years, and the beautiful sunsets she had taken thousands of pictures of, we could see her relaxing. I told her she would never be alone again, she would never be in pain again, and she would never have to reveal her age again. Her breathing slowed, her jaw relaxed and at long last she let go.
Rebekah for Poplar Grove Muse