One Foot on the Path


I signed my mom onto Hospice yesterday.

This was not as traumatic a moment for me as it might have been because I volunteered with Hospice for three years.  I know how it works, know the drill, and know how many of my patients and their families said, “I wish we’d signed on with Hospice sooner.”  I don’t want to be one of them.  It’s time.

What prompted this, of course, was her recent fall and the resultant pain.  The nursing home has worked diligently to manage Mom’s pain and I fault them not at all.  Break-through pain happens.  But Hospice has more “tools in its case,” as it were.  Besides, she’s frail and she’s clearly on the “failure to thrive” path (consistently losing weight, little appetite, etc).  Her entire demeanor yesterday was different, more vague and less focused than she’s been able.  Part of that might have been the break-through pain that was starting around the time I arrived, but part of it–as you might expect–is that the fall has had its effect in more than the obvious ways.  A frail old person can’t take a fall like that and not suffer consequences of all sorts.  Plus, as the wonderful Hospice nurse Elaine told me, once a person like my mom suffers a fall like this, it’s pretty indicative that the road ahead for them has changed.

I’d be inclined to think of it as a downward path, but my brain won’t let me.  Mom is headed upward.  A day will come when she’s free of the bonds of Earth, the constrictions of a crippled body and a tortured mind.  A day will come when she’ll fly free, when she’ll whoop with joy to find herself unfettered.  I’ve already begun to tell her that her family will be fine, that we’ll take care of each other and she doesn’t need to worry about leaving.  And when she goes, I hope she grabs the first passing horse, flings herself on its back, and takes off on the wind.  Those are the moments when I’ll think of her in the future and I won’t be surprised if I hear the sound of hoof beats.

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About Melissa Crandall

Longer ago than I care to admit--although I will--I cut my writing teeth on fanzines and media tie-in novels. Since then, I've moved on to narrative nonfiction, speculative fiction, and essays. I write to explore and understand the world around me, the things I see and experience nearby or from a distance. If I shake myself up, cool. If I shake you up, even better. Not gratuitously--what's the point in that?--but to set what I know, or think I know, on end and realize, "Well, doesn't it look different from this side!" My work is neither sexually explicit nor graphically violent. Let's face it - your imaginations will come up with things far worse than anything I could write, no matter how descriptive. Besides, it's just not my thing. I live in Connecticut with my supportive husband Ed, a cat named Ruby who might just think she's a dog, and an epileptic Australian shepherd named Holly who isn't quite certain anymore who she is, except she knows she loves her mommy.
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2 Responses to One Foot on the Path

  1. marie mccarthy says:

    What a positive step to take for your Mom. No doubt she’ll hop on that pony when it’s close enough. And one day when you are on a major book tour in Boston or New York, I will wait in line to get your autograph on your new bestseller (I love the picture on the back of you and your Mom). Then I’ll get that hug. I enjoy your writing so much: it is tight, funny, poignant, insightful. Until then, keep shining. MarieMcC

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