I just returned from a couple days sitting with my very sick mother in hospice. She is dying and has refused any more treatment. I held her hand and prayed with her and we sang some of her favorite hymns together with my sister, Terri. It was a sad time, but one also filled with lots of good memories. My mother was always a very loving mother, fun loving person who really enjoyed the outdoors. It was particularly poignant to be with this strong woman of action as she slipped into and out of a coma-like state. She had no pain, but slept most of the day. She had not eaten for several days- time was short, we all knew.
We looked at some old pictures of us camping when I was quite young. With a family of 8, it was not possible to take vacations in hotels, so we always camped in our trusty pop-up camper and tents. Mom smiled often as we shared these pics of good times with her. Even though her memory is fading quickly, she remembered every one of these family events and she shared stories and much laughter; Christmases, birthdays, annual campouts and family gatherings- these were the things that mattered most to mom….and to us, as well!
When it was time for me to leave, we both got a bit choked up, as we both knew this was the last time we’d see each other in this life. She rallied for a moment to sit up and look me right in the eye as she grabbed my hands and said, “I love you son.” I told her I loved her very much, as well and then I began the long journey home from Wisconsin to California, my new home. I left with bittersweet feelings: I was glad her suffering was near an end and she was receiving excellent and compassionate care in the hospice. On the other hand, she is my last remaining relative from that generation and that leaves me, as Beve’s oldest son, as the defacto patriarch of the Broniec Family. I hope I am able to fill this role as gracefully and long as my mom.