It happened very quickly. Mom was not in pain. In the morning, her breathing had been especially strained. When the nurse came, she gave a few more meds – ones that I could inject into a subcutaneous catheter. They were mostly to help with anxiety.
We had a lovely Saturday, with visits from her grandkids as well as my brother and I and our spouses. We shared a good meal. We toasted to life.
We were on our way to a Canada day party (or trying to get mom there), when she passed. She really wanted to go to the party. Everyone agreed that if she wanted to go, we would to everything we could to make it happen.
With a lot of moving parts (thanks to my hubby), we managed to get mom in the car and get her on oxygen in the car, but she was very anxious. She said the car had to move, so I drove around the block. In that time, she found the seat belt too restrictive. I decided that we were not going to make it to my aunts. I told my mom “I’m making the executive decision that we won’t go”. She said OK (I think she just wanted to be back in the house at that point), but she also said “you all go” .. in that she wanted us (me, my brother, our spouses) to go to the party and enjoy the Canada Day fireworks.
We helped mom transfer from the car to the chair. Her last words were “let me do it” .. in that she didn’t want our help, she wanted to make the transfer herself. Once in the chair, on home oxygen, we wheeled her directly in to the house. I noticed then that her eyes were looking up and she was going in and out of consciousness. I said “call 911” – and my hubby did. While talking to the 911 operator, we timed her breaths at once every 20 seconds. It was like she was gasping for air. When the fire trucks arrived (they usually arrive before the paramedics), I showed them the DNR – which we had taped to the fridge. One of them went into the house to assess mom.
When the paramedics arrived, there was a confirmation of the signed DNR. That is the first time I heard the words “I’m not detecting a pulse”. The paramedics took over, hooked her up to a defibrillator and validated that she had no pulse. There was a check again to validate DNR. Confirmation of the paperwork, but also confirmation from her substituted decision maker (me). All was confirmed. She had passed away.
The paramedics were amazing. They carried her upstairs and put her into bed. They kept asking if we needed anything. They gave us water and offered to make tea. And they stayed waiting for the police – until they got a new call and were needed elsewhere. The paramedics didn’t know what the next step was, they just knew that they were required to call the police and wait as long as they could. The police came in and confirmed the situation of her passing. Once that was confirmed, the police officer checked with mom’s family doctor to confirm her diagnosis. Then the information was passed to the coroner, who signed off, and called the funeral home. I really had no idea how the process worked.
At about 6:20 pm, mom passed from this world into the next. I hope that she learns the answer to her question “Will Allan [dad] wear glasses in heaven?”. We are thankful that her passing was quick, and that she was in very little pain or distress. Rest in peace mom … we love you.