Pearl passed on January 11, 2014. She would have turned 100 in just a few short weeks. We found her in her bed after remarking that the lights coming on didn’t disturb her. She had passed peacefully in her sleep.
She hadn’t bounced back after her latest illness a couple of weeks before. Each day we found her a little weaker, a little less aware. She began having conversations with unseen individuals. I heard her in her room yelling at nobody to get out and leave her alone.
Ron, concerned, called in Hospice to evaluate her. A social worker arrived, interviewed her and us then phoned the Hospice physician who arrived about an hour later and entered her into hospice care and prescribed medication and equipment for her.
A short timer later a nurse arrived with supplies for her care, next came a pharmacy delivery. By the next morning she had deteriorated to a point that she could barely stand without assistance. During all of this activity Pearl maintained her good mood and seemed to enjoy all the attention she was receiving from so many strangers. Everyone had a hug for her and she had a smile for them all. She thought they were friends of hers.
Equipment arrived that day, we took down her bed to move in a hospital bed, happy to have one that would raise and lower. It eased her breathing difficulty. Next came another nurse bringing more supplies. Ron and I were prepared for whatever should come our way were even provided with a baby monitor so that we could hear if she was too weak to call out.
Pearl’s appetite had lessened over the preceding days, she would have a bite and spit it in a napkin. She seemed to have difficulty swallowing. The nurses and doctor told us it was not unusual in end of life patients.
We were ordered to give her two medications for pain, cough and dyspnea or breathing difficulty. We gave her one dose of each at 8:45 when she went to bed. We heard coughing at our bedtime and repeated the dosages as prescribed, then gave her hugs and told her goodnight. She waved at us and said goodbye.
I woke to a loud cough at 5:02 a.m. Going to the hall outside of her door I heard no other sound, so I returned to bed. At about 7:00, we began fixing breakfast. Lights were on we were talking, coffee brewing, which usually brings her out. I remarked that she was really sleeping peacefully, as I hadn’t heard her cough yet. Ron stopped everything and said “Maybe she’s not asleep”
She had been on Hospice care for slightly over 24 hours. She left us in the way we had hoped, peacefully in her own home in her sleep. Our instructions were to let Hospice know first and they arrived quickly and took care of all of the details for us, even calling Pearl’s funeral home. I cannot overstate how much we appreciated the tender way we were all cared for by this wonderful organization.
So ends an era of 7 years duration, but the memories live on. Keep in touch, readers, as we share more from our empty nest.