Old habits die hard….


Yuri and his beloved aunt Vic

Yuri and his beloved aunt Vic

Today we had our first real family get together after Vic’s memorial service.  It was Esther’s birthday on the 20th of February.

I was uncertain about how the boys and I would handle it.  It was our first family get together without Vic.

I was amazed at how much less time the cooking and baking took….not because there was one person less to cook for, but because there was no interruptions….I was always up and down the passage checking on Vic, helping her go to the bathroom, giving her meds or injections, cleaning up vomit… Sometimes I would check on her and we would just end up chatting or watching Cake Boss….

Vic always tried to help…poor little poppet!  She would ask over and over again “How can I help Mommy?”  If the truth be known she only got in my way but I loved the “us” time… Sometimes I would ask her to add the cheese to the cheese sauce whilst I stirred…  She would take great pleasure in telling everyone that we baked or cooked….

Jared and I went off to Driving School this morning.  I would get home just in time for the boys to set the tables under the trees in the garden and for me to finish off the meal.

Everyone arrived and the house was filled with happy, excited voices and the sound of children running around.  It was a perfect summer day.  For the first time in a long time lunch was ready, not a single dish burnt or spoilt…. My grandchildren are ALL fussy eaters.  For once they ate all their food and went back for seconds and even thirds…

Esther told us that Yuri (6 years old), my youngest grandson, had a show and tell at school.  He spoke about his family.  He showed the class a photo of his mom, dad and brother.  He also showed them a camping photo of him and his daddy.  He told his class he was so lucky to have three grans and two granddads… His “gran number 3 is cool because she builds armoured vehicles and gives him lots of sweets”.  I am gran number 3….He showed his class a photo of Vic and told them that she was his “beloved” aunt Vic who is already in Heaven with Jesus…  Apparently the class of pre-schoolers all appropriately “ooh-ed and Aaah-ed”…

I cried a quiet tear.

Kari and Simone individually came up and hugged me.  “How are you Ouma?” they asked with real concern…All the grandchildren are sleeping over tonight.  The house is alive with their youthful enthusiasm and energy.

It was a lovely day and a wonderful evening.  I missed Vic so much – at times I walked away because I had teared up again… It will always be great to be with loved ones, but it has changed forever.

There was an extra setting at the table and an empty seat….The boys unthinkingly set a place for their mom….Old habits die-hard!

I missed you so much my Angle Child!!

 

Gramps was here…..


Vic and her Gramps 1.4.2011

Vic and her Gramps 1.4.2011

Monday 7.1.2013  was a crazy day.  Vic was not in a good space.

Angela, Vic’s BFF came to visit.  She is not only beautiful but also a calm and serene person.  She radiates goodness.  Angela being here gives me some time because I really trust her.  I am able to get some essential chores done knowing that she is keeping an eye on Vic.

“Gramps was here” Vic said.

“How is he?” I asked

“I don’t know.  He just came to tell me how much he loves us all…” Vic replied

My Dad forgot how to breathe on the 15th of May 2011.  He died in our home (in the very same room as Vic) surrounded by his beloved family.  At times he was a stranger in the world.   Some days he woke up in a room he could not remember from one nap to the next, lived with “strangers” and thought I was my Mom.  Despite the advanced Alzheimer’s, he never forgot who Vic was and that she was ill.  At times he forgot whether she was in hospital or out but he never forgot her or that she was ill.

“He has come to take you by your hand Sweetie…”  I said

“I KNOW Mommy” she said impatiently.

Lee, Jared’s BFF mom popped around with a huge basket of exquisite flowers.  Of course, Vic immediately got a bee in her bonnet and had to get out of bed.  Always the social animal!

Esther arrived and Vic burst into tears when she saw her sister.

“I am so scared Sis” Vic cried in her sisters arms.

Esther has become Vic’s “coach”.  She has the love for Vic to ask her what is holding her back; she tells Vic to run towards the light; to let go – the boys are safe are cared for.  She holds Vic and dries her tears….

Danie took the boys for a haircut and new school uniforms.

In the afternoon Joanna, one the Jon-Daniel’s primary school friends’ Mom, popped in for a visit.  It was touching when she spoke with Vic and apologized for coming to visit too late.  Vic was sleeping and not aware of the visit.  Joanna left with tears streaming down her cheeks.  She left a little gift for Vic

“I wrote your name in the sand
But the waves blew it away
Then I wrote it in the sky
But the wind blew it away
So I wrote it in my heart
And that’s where it will stay.”

 Siza arrived and told me that Sue would be in tomorrow morning to assess Vic.  She said Vic’s colour is very poor and the circulation in her legs bad.  Siza is of the opinion that the most humane thing to do for Vic would be to sedate her…  Her body is building up so much adrenalin fighting death that it is preventing her from dying – despite the organ failure.

I am torn.  My poor child’s anguish and pain sears through every nerve ending in my body.  Not only mine but also the rest of the family’s…..I want the emotional side of her journey to end.  But when I think that I will never hear her voice again, that I will never hear her cry and plead again… I want to die.  Sedation can end her emotional anguish, but deprive us of last words.

When I walked into Vic’s room after Sr Siza left Vic said “I just saw Dries.  He came to visit.  I have thought of him the whole day….”

Dries is a dear family friend who died last year…

In the evening Judy (Dries’ widow) popped around for a visit.  When I told her that Vic had seen Dries she burst into tears.  She said, her sister Lida, a deeply religious woman, told her earlier in the day that she had dreamt of Dries and that Dries was going to come and “fetch” Vic…

I pointed out to Judy that Dries, who was a tour guide by profession, would take Vic on the scenic route…

We laughed.

Later in the evening Bella, one of the ministers in my Church, and James, the senior elder, came to visit.  Bella, a dear friend over the years, spoke to the boys with so much compassion.  He grew up in a home with a mother who was ill.  He said that the congregation has never stopped praying for us as a family.  He said the congregation carries us in their hearts.  (One day I will still blog about Bella and his amazing ability to “pray Vic out of the claws of death”…)

We all stood holding hands around Vic’s bed whilst Bella said a beautiful prayer for Vic and the family.  Someone stifled a little sob.  There was absolute peace and a Godly presence in Vic’s room.

Related posts:

Rest in peace dear friend    https://tersiaburger.com/2012/08/07/rest-in-peace-dear-friend-7-8-2012/

For some dying is hard work   https://tersiaburger.com/2012/07/18/487/

Quiet waters of peace


Lead me to the quiet waters of peace

Lead me to the quiet waters of peace

Vic is very restless and agitated.  Hospice says that at this stage they normally sedate the patients to make the passing easier.  It would be a wonderful solution.  Vic’s mind is mostly crystal clear and busier than ever.  She continuously asks for photos to be taken, not necessarily of herself but of the boys, her friends and family.  Last night I actually said to her (after her insisting on photos being taken of me – on my own) “Sweetie, you cannot take your cell phone to heaven with you.”

“Oh…” she said.  “Why not?  I think I will…”

We laughed.

In her desperate attempts to cling to life she is trying to capture images on her phone…I do know that she is imbedding the images on her heart and she will take the images of her loved ones with her.

Last night was very difficult.  The Pethidine makes her hyper.  She fights sleep at night!  Vic is scared she will close her eyes and never open them again.

Vic clung to Danie’s hands when he came to say goodnight.  “Don’t leave me Daddy!  Please don’t leave me!!!  I am so scared!” Poor Danie was totally distraught!

“I am so tired” Vic cries and seconds later she will try and get out of bed, so she can stay awake!

In the early hours of the morning I was exhausted when I eventually got inpatient with Vic and told her to get into bed.  She looked at me and said “I sometimes think you love me to death but other times I think you hate me…”

I know she is confused at times.  I will not allow these words to haunt me later.  She “sees” people.  She babbles non-stop.

The weight is falling off her.  Her trembling fingers are bony, almost skeleton like.  Her eyes are sunken and reflect her pain and anguish.  My poor baby is starving to death!  She has absolutely no appetite.  I don’t know when last she was hungry or able to eat.

Esther and Leon came to visit today.  Esther was very emotional when she saw Vic.  I know she said her goodbyes today.  I could see that they had spoken to their boys.  Both Henk and Yuri kissed Vic whilst she was sleeping.

Jared asked me today why I don’t sedate Vic.  I explained to him that she refuses to be sedated.  “I think it will be better for Mom to sleep all the time now Oumie.  It is too hard for her now and she is too scared…Ask Sr Siza to give her some sedation…”

Oh Lord how do I make this easier for my family?  How do I spare the boys the pain of seeing their mother dying bit by bit?  Do I send them to their father and have them hate me for it or do I subject them to the horror of what’s happening?

I wish Vic was in a hospital where the decisions weren’t mine.  But I promised Vic “no more hospitals”.  I will never go back on my word.

I am babbling.

Vic is very restless and agitated.  Hospice says that at this stage they normally sedate the patients to make the passing easier.  It would be a wonderful solution.  Vic’s mind is mostly crystal clear and busier than ever.  She continuously asks for photos to be taken, not necessarily of herself but of the boys, her friends and family.  Last night I actually said to her (after her insisting on photos being taken of me – on my own) “Sweetie, you cannot take your cell phone to heaven with you.”

“Oh…” she said.  “Why not?  I think I will…”

We laughed.

In her desperate attempts to cling to life she is trying to capture images on her phone…I do know that she is imbedding the images on her heart and she will take the images of her loved ones with her.

Last night was very difficult.  The Pethidine makes her hyper.  She fights sleep at night!  Vic is scared she will close her eyes and never open them again.

Vic clung to Danie’s hands when he came to say goodnight.  “Don’t leave me Daddy!  Please don’t leave me!!!  I am so scared!” Poor Danie was totally distraught!

“I am so tired” Vic cries and seconds later she will try to get out of bed so she can stay awake!

In the early hours of the morning I was exhausted when I eventually got inpatient with Vic and told her to get into bed.  She looked at me and said “I sometimes think you love me to death but other times I think you hate me…”

I know she is confused at times.  I will not allow these words to haunt me later.  She “sees” people.  She babbles non-stop.

The weight is falling off her.  Her trembling fingers are bony, almost skeleton like.  Her eyes are sunken and reflect her pain and anguish.  My poor baby is starving to death!  She has absolutely no appetite.  I don’t know when last she was hungry or able to eat.

Esther and Leon came to visit today.  Esther was very emotional when she saw Vic.  I know she said her goodbyes today.  I could see that they had spoken to their boys.  Both Henk and Yuri kissed Vic whilst she was sleeping.

Jared asked me today why I don’t sedate Vic.  I explained to him that she refuses to be sedated.  “I think it will be better for Mom to sleep all the time now Oumie.  It is too hard for her now and she is too scared…Ask Sr Siza to give her some sedation…”

Oh Lord how do I make this easier for my family?  How do I spare the boys the pain of seeing their mother dying bit by bit?  Do I send them to their father and have them hate me for it or do I subject them to the horror of what’s happening?

I wish Vic was in a hospital where the decisions weren’t mine.  But I promised Vic “no more hospitals”.  I will never go back on my word.

I am babbling.

” Sometimes the pain’s too strong to bear…and life gets so hard you just don’t care.  You feel so alone you just sit and cry…every second you wish you could die.”  

 

 

“Sisters by Heart”


Vic lost the Christmas gift she bought Esther. It is not the first time this has happened – Vic previously bought Esther a “Sister” fridge magnet and mislaid it somewhere…

Vic has spent a lot of time sorting out some last things – double checking her insurance policies, photo albums, writing cards for the boys to be read on the first Christmas, first anniversary, final school exam…  She has been going tick, tick, tick…Oops Outstanding item: Esther’s gift!

I have searched the house and not found the sentimental nick-nacks Vic bought Esther for Christmas.  I have driven around and looked for replacement gifts, but to no avail.  So yesterday Vic said to Esther “Sis, I have to replace your Christmas gift…  I cannot move on before I do that…Mommy is taking me to Eastgate tomorrow.  I know I will find it there.”

Esther, who has a superb sense of humour, said “I won’t let you die before I get my present…What time are we leaving tomorrow?”

Early this morning Vic was dressed and ready for the excursion.  At about 11am we set off shopping (after a hefty pain and nausea injection…) At the second shop we struck gold!  (I actually found the gift she was looking for.)  Vic had the salesperson wrap it with Christmas gift wrap.   She is a stickler for “attention to detail”

Mission accomplished we went to a restaurant for lunch.  As usual Vic agonised over the menu.  She wanted a salmon dish with cream cheese – No salmon…. Arghhh!  She settled for a sandwich and coffee.

The gift Vic bought was a Willow Tree figurine set of two girls holding hands.  “Just like we lay and chatted last night Sis…”

Sisters by Heart

Celebrating a treasured friendship of sharing and understanding

 “I’m very close to my sisters, and the friendship and support of other women has always enriched my life. I also realize that there are friends or other relatives that may not be blood sisters, but share this same type of closeness.”

 

Vic and Esther are step sisters.  There is no blood bond, but they are bound by their deep love for one another.  Esther has been an absolute pillar of strength to Vic and the rest of the family.  Daily Esther sends Vic beautiful text messages.  She brings Vic flowers from her garden.  She lies next to Vic and listens to her babbling.   Esther is the sister Vic never had.

Needless to say, Vic did not handle her lunch well and after a visit to the toilet we left.  I could see her heart beating like crazy in her neck.  People looked at us as far as we walked.  I realized with a shock that it is because Vic obviously looks ill and shuffles like an old person.  I look at her and I only see a beautiful young woman; my baby girl and the mother of my grandsons.

Vic is having a strange day… Her blood pressure is all over; her heart races and then slows down.

“Something is wrong mommy.”

This evening Vic double checked with me whether I remembered which hymns had to be sung at her memorial service.  She cried when she (again) named her pallbearers.  “Please don’t let me lie in a refrigerator for a long time Mommy…Let them cremate me as quickly as possible”

Vic asked that I get her minister to come and administer Holy Communion to her this week.

The whole situation is so surreal.  I find it impossible to believe that Vic may actually be dying.    She is so beautiful and her mind is crystal clear!  I think Vic is just caught up in the Hospice talk.  Maybe I am in denial.  She has not vomited blood for two days.  That is a good sign.  Google says her heart rate can go up to 250 and Vic’s HR is only at 120 and occasionally at 155.

Oh dear God please grant my child peace.  Please grant us all peace.

Sisters holding hands

Sisters holding hands

Celebrating a treasured friendship of sharing and understanding

"Sisters by Heart"

“Sisters by Heart”

 

“I’m tired of living but I do not deserve to die. I am motivated by nothing yet I move on… “


“I’m tired of living but I do not deserve to die.  I am motivated by nothing yet I move on.  I have nothing but I have everything.  I just don’t want to understand.

Muriel posted this message on Vic’s Facebook page.  Today it echo’s my feelings.  I am so tired of living.  I am so tired of this miserable existence that we call life.  Surely, there must be more to life than breathing!

Today was a day out of hell.  I had to leave home early this morning as we were testing some systems that are critical to a contract that we are negotiating.  I got up with great difficulty, showered, and made Kreemy Meal for my family.  Both Jared and Vic need soft foods.  I left on time with strict instructions for Danie as to where and when to collect Vic’s morphine syrup from the Pain Clinic.

Within 5 minutes, I was stuck in terrible traffic.  Five lanes reduced to two…

Once we reached the test site, the subsystem manufacturers arrived 2.5 hours late!!  I phoned Vic to check on her only to be told that she had gotten ill all over herself!  She had to bath and I was not home to help her!  I told her to take anti-nausea tablets, lie down for 15 minutes, and take morphine tablets again.  Once she felt better, she would have to ask Primrose, the helper, to help her bathe.  I could not leave the test site.

Danie phoned to tell me – “No Morphine Syrup – come back next week”.  Some good news was that Esther came to visit and helped Vic bath.  That girl is an absolute saint!  Esther also took Jon-Daniel to the movies.  I am so grateful that he could get out of the house of gloom and illness.

Then the system failed…  The shipment would be delayed by at least another 5 weeks!

Another traffic jam to my next meeting…

An hour and a half later, I left the meeting for home and was stuck in the 17:00 peak hour traffic!  A 20-minute trip became a 1.5-hour trip!  Arghhhhhh

At home, I quickly prepared dinner. Vic has to have dinner by 18:30 as she must take her medication at 19:00.  In my haste I forgot poor Jared is only allowed pureed food so I started cooking (a second meal) some gem squash, potatoes, and carrots for him.  I put it through the strainer and rushed off to his room with a tray and his pureed food.  I do not know what I did but the next thing pureed vegetables and broken Noritake was all over the floor!  I just burst into tears.

I cannot believe that something that I would normally laugh off as an accident set me off.  Poor Jared had to eat soup for dinner.  He is so tired of soup!

Well today, I am fed-up with life.  I am tired to the core of my soul.  I do not want to hear that I am doing a great job or that I am strong.  I do not want to hear anything!  All I want is ONE carefree day in my life!! One day with absolutely NO responsibilities.

Oh dear God, the boys offered to do their Mom’s tablets tonight so I can have a full night’s sleep…What am I doing with my pity party?  I have Vic in tears because she is feeling guilty because of the stress her illness has caused me, the boys feel guilty because I am tired and Danie wants to take me away for a weekend so I can rest and relax…How can I ever relax whilst my child is so ill.  I do know I cannot afford to cry.  It distresses everyone around me.

I need a stronger anti-depressant.

I am going to bed.  I am going to feel sorry for myself in the privacy of my room where I cannot cause more stress in my family’s lives.  Life is already so hard for them.  Tomorrow is another day and we will face whatever life throws at us!

“I’m tired of living but I do not deserve to die.  I am motivated by nothing yet I move on.  I have nothing but I have everything.  I just don’t want to understand.

A lifetime ago…

Vic is truly a prisoner of pain and despair 15.6.2012


My heart nearly stopped when I walked into Vic’s room this morning.  She looked as if she had died.  Vic had had a terrible night and actually, a terrible day too.

Today, I again realized that Vic is truly a prisoner of pain and despair.  For 36 years she has held onto life, against all odds.  Poor precious child.  I cannot help but ask the question “Why was Vic dealt such horrible cards in life?”  Surely there must of been people more worthy of this tortuous life???   Oh yes, the purification process… Surely we have been through the melting ovens enough – if we have not  been purified by now it will never happen!  Now whoever brought this upon us – please move along!!  It is someone  elses’s turn.

Vic once said to me that if she believed in reincarnation she may have understood her life.  She would then have believed that she was Pontius Pilate in her her previous life…

If I could change places with my child I would.  If by any magic I could take over her pain and misery – even for a couple of hours, I would.  I can’t!!!!!

“Where there is life there is hope”.  Who came up with that stupid cliche?  Vic has hoped and prayed for so long!  Everyone has prayed for her.  People from all continents and across all religions and denominations have prayed for her to be healed.  She has been anointed with oil.  And then there are those religious know-it-all’s who claim that the sins of our forefathers have brought this curse upon Vic.  What absolute hogwash!  How can people, who believe in a God of Mercy, make such a statement??  Either there is a God of Mercy and a Son who died for our sins or there isn’t!  You cannot have it both ways!

Walk in our shoes for one day before you make such cold, uncaring, loveless statements.   Look at Vic’s beautiful sons and then YOU, oh righteous, pious one,  tell them that Vic’s journey is because of a curse cast on her by the God that they trust and love…

We’re all on a journey toward death anyway – how we get there, and what we’re able to do in that time is the important thing. But all journeys have an end.  I pray that Vic’s journey will end! ImageImage

Image