Sherod is quite a lot older than I am which means that he’s usually “been there, done that” before me. This time, it’s the other way around. During a long conversation last evening, he told me about the way in which his mom was moved from the hospital back to the assisted facility where she’s been living for several years and where, God willing, she will be able to die with dignity and grace. He marveled at the compassionate efficiency of the hospice team that will accompany the family through this part of the journey. Yesterday, they moved Juanita’s bed out of the room and brought in a hospital bed instead, as well as the other things she’ll need in the weeks ahead. Sherod choked up describing how even the director of Cedar Hill, the assisted living facility, got down on hands and knees to clean the baseboards and dust and make sure the room was clean and comfortable for Juanita. All the staff came in to see her, and touch her and visit with her. That too moved him deeply.
After days of meeting crabbiness with crabbiness (Sherod’s his mama’s son through and through in ways that sometimes make me giggle), I heard that different tone in his voice. This is it. As you begin to walk with a parent to the end of life, you wake up one morning and realize you are listening a little more carefully, holding a hand a little longer, moving that pillow a little more gently because doing all those things is a privilege you will soon lose.
One night this week, as I was sitting on the sofa in our room, putting on my shoes and socks to go walk, I looked out as night was settling in. It was the gentlest light imaginable, washing the river and garden in those wonderful colors of dusk. I stopped being in such a hurry and allowed myself to look at all that quiet beauty. Sunset is a kind time, a time for lingering. We should all be so lucky to have a time of twilight with our parents, as Sherod has been given this week.