National Caregivers Month: Kat’s mom leaves her with lessons of love that last a lifetime
Today we’re celebrating Kat, a caregiver who lost her mother in August of this year. Remember to add a tribute to the caregiver in your life at www.alz.org/nadam.
My mother passed away on Wednesday, August 24 in the arms of my 91-year-old father on their 65th wedding anniversary. She had been battling Alzheimer’s for many years, and when she was sent to hospice with little hope of survival, I raced down as quickly as I could to hold the hand that had caressed my forehead for so many years. August 16th, we all gathered around her bedside, including her great grandchildren. We told her stories of our lives with her. We played the song she had requested, Ave Maria.
I also read the words from, “Like My Mother Does” and reminded her of the days when I picked mustard flowers for her walking home from school. She always smiled that big beautiful smile, gave me a big huge and told me how beautiful they were. She would put them in a vase on our simple dining room table that was rich with laughter and good times. A little girl saw me one day and told me, “you are picking weeds for your mom!” I ran home crying and into her arms. I sobbed how sorry I was and that I didn’t know they were weeds, I thought they were pretty flowers. She smiled that beautiful knowing smile, ran her hand through my hair and said, “God created them and I think they are beautiful, especially because they are from you”. She picked up the mustard flowers that fell limply from my hands and placed them lovingly in a vase and put them on the dining room table. I saw some mustard flowers on the day she passed away”¦ they will always be beautiful to me.
The story that actually brought her out of her coma was the one that I told her, reminding her of when dad went away to fight in the Korean War, he held her in his arms, (she was pregnant with me), and said, “I don’t care if it’s a boy or a girl, as long as it has big brown eyes like you!” Mom moved her lips to try and smile, “I said, let these big brown eyes see your big brown eyes.” She struggled for what seemed like eternity but was only a few moments. Her eyes opened and looked at me/through me, into my soul one last time.
The priest came and gave her last rites. We all touched her forehead, including the great grand children. He said how lucky she was to have such a large gathering, he often came to give last rites, and no one else was there. We all held each other close.
On August 24th, I took Kobe for a hike at Spring Lake. It was a gorgeous day”¦ out of the distance a large flock of birds came flying directly at us. When they got near, we actually had to duck to avoid them and there was a huge WOOSHING sound as they flew above us. We turned and looked up and they all flew straight up in the air above us and separated into the sky like a huge fireworks display. My eyes fell to the mountain across from us and it was the mountain with the huge white cross in the middle of the green grassy field. I felt strength, warmth, and love. I realized I was crying and knew that it must have been my mom. She came to say, “goodbye for now, I’ll always be with you, like the birds in the sky above.”
The call came several hours later. She had held on to be with my father on their 65th wedding anniversary. Their love was immense.
-Kat Ryan Montgomery, daughter, caregiver