Daughter's Eulogy

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Power of a Cheeseburger

Yesterday, I had a lunch date with mom.  Of course, her meal of choice was a McDonald’s cheeseburger.  Just this past Sunday, Jamie had brought her a Portillo’s beef sandwich and split the sandwich with her.  Those two meals seem to be her favorites.  Although we have been told that mom does not seem to have an appetite, she does eat well with us.

When I wheeled mom into the Garden Room, I was pleased to see that our favorite window seat table was available.  Mom and I like that table because the view is of the hallway which normally has a good deal of the staff walking by.  When they do each and every one of them smile and wave at mom, making her feel special.  Sometimes one or two of them will even stop by and visit with us for a minute or two.

Mom was extremely weak today and my hopes for mom eating her cheeseburger were slim.   When I unwrapped her cheeseburger, I saw that mom’s hands were shaking more than usual.  So after I tucked a napkin under her chin, unfolded another one for her lap, I decided the best idea was to help mom eat her sandwich first.  Mom likes to be independent and in control now more than ever so I try to honor her wishes, but help on the sideline. 

Mom grabbed the cheeseburger and I cupped my hands underneath hers to help her.  By holding my hands around hers I eliminated much of her shakiness.  She said, “Julienne, eat your cheeseburger.” 

“Mom, you look so nice.  I just want to help a little so you do not end of wearing your cheeseburger.”  Within minutes mom had eaten her entire cheeseburger and drank her entire root beer.  She even made some French fries disappear.

During our luncheon several of the staff like usual walked by waving.  Mom smiled and said, “They know.  They know I am dying.”

“Mom, they love you.  They are smiling because they are happy to see you.”

“Don’t tell me.  I know.”

“Mom, have a showed you our book (Mom would not understand blog) lately?  Look at some of the new photos I added.”  I showed her the photos of the birds, some of the staff and then I showed her the pineapple upside down cake. 

Mom eyes lit up when she saw the photo of the pineapple upside down cake, “Julienne, that looks just like the cake I used to make.”

“You made the best.”

“Yes, I did.  I did a lot of good things.”

“Yes, you did mom.”

“I crocheted a bedspread.”

“Mom, I love my bedspread.  Do you remember that I have your bedspread on one of the beds in my house?”

Mom shook her head yes, “I crocheted Afghans and knitted sweaters.”

“Do you remember your afghan that you made me with the roses?”

Mom shook her head no.

“Mom, I will take a photo of the afghan and show you the next time I am here.”

Then mom said, “Julienne, I have so many things to say.”

“I am here.  I am listening to every word you say.”

“Who is in charge of my casket?”

You can imagine that almost nothing mom says or asks me surprises me anymore, but this one did.  “Mom, your children are in charge.”


“Jerome, Jamie and I will take care of everything.” 

“Julienne, will you do my hair?”

“Mom, I will make sure you look beautiful.”

“I know you want me to look nice.  Don’t worry too much about my hair,” mom said so seriously.

“Mom, I will take care of you.”

Mom shook her head like she knew I would.

“Thank you for Dana*, she’s been my angel.”  Dana* is mom’s hospice nurse.

“I am glad you like her so much.  Dana* likes you, too.”

“That girl, she’s wonderful.”

“Mom, I am so happy she takes good care of you.”

“Julienne, I have more to say. My brain . . . I can’t remember.”

“No worries, mom when you remember you can tell me then.”

Mom said, “Julienne, you didn’t eat your food.”

“My stomach does not feel good.  I am not hungry.”

“You brought me food, when you were sick.”

“I am not sick with anything you can catch; I just have a stomach ache.”

“Take care of yourself, Julienne.”

While mom and I were on the elevator, I said, “Mom, I brought you hairspray today.  Remember yesterday you wanted me to spray your hair after I curled your hair.”

“My hair is already flat.”

“I also brought my curling iron back.  Let’s go to your room and I will curl your hair and this time I will spray your hair when I am finished.”

Mom agreed.

I plugged in the curling iron and while that was heating up.  Mom and I went through her closet.  Curling mom’s hair is so arduous because I am so afraid that I am going to touch and burn her with the hot iron that I place my hand under the iron so if anyone is going to be burned that would be me.  Fortunately, I did not burn myself. 

Mom said impatiently, “Ok, Julienne, just a little.” 

“Mom, I am not as good as Jeanne*.  She does a much better job. Mom, I will take a photo so I can show you.”

When I showed mom her photo she said, “It’s fine.  Let’s go I am tired.”  When mom says she tired, she wants to go back to the nurses’ area with her friends where she can nap or sit by them. 

As we were walking out of mom’s room, we ran into Sharon* the hairstylist at this location of The Community* who I had previously contacted to see if she could do mom’s hair.  She said, “What day would you like me to do your mom’s hair next week?’

“Monday, would be great.”  I said Monday because that was the first day that Sharon* would be back from her long Thanksgiving weekend.  Sharon agreed and walked away.

Mom looked at me angrily and said, “Why are you prolonging this?”  Mom thinks I am doing something extra to keep her alive.

“Mom, I promise you I am not doing anything to prolong your life.  I made your hair appointment for Monday.  If you are gone, I will cancel your appointment.”  She appeared OK with that answer.

I wheeled back.  She sat right next to her good friend, Irene*.  I said, “Mom, we had another beautiful day.”  Mom shook her head agreeing.

Darlene said*, “Your mom looks much better.”

Mom said, “I ate a cheeseburger and my daughter did my hair.”

I hugged and kissed mom.  The cheeseburger or doing her hair made a difference today in how mom was feeling. I would bet on the cheeseburger.

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