Mom died on January 16th, two months and one week after being diagnosed with a terminal cancer. We often talked of Joanne Lynn’s phrase “the blessing of a thoroughly dismal prognosis”. She referred to that blessing almost daily.
Mom described this as being the richest period of her life. She determined what she would do and how she would live her last months. She gathered her kids from across the globe, celebrated Christmas with marvelous foods and feasts, enjoyed short visits with a few close friends, savored emails, tied up loose ends, expressed love and enjoyed closure. She hoped for and enjoyed the arrival of her sister just days before she died.
On Gabriola Island she was supported by the home care nurses, community pharmacist, medical office assistants, and a wonderful family doctor. She received the provincial palliative benefits including an electric bed!
At 81, as a life-long learner, she exchanged learning to use “Photoshop”, “Simply Accounting” and her computerized sewing machine to learn about dying. She faced death with curiousity. She talked about openly about dying.
As a professional teacher, a life-long fabric artist, she spoke less in the last months of fiber and fabrics and introduced me instead to artistry in dying.
Mom was a master planner – the calendar was booked months in advance. She planned events, attended to details, determined parameters and identified her preferences. Then death came – uninvited and unplanned. Clear communication of a ‘thoroughly dismal prognosis” enabled her to make decisions about things that were in her control, as well as decision of how to deal with that which was out of her control. As death neared she said “I could not have planned it better….This has been the richest time of my life.”