Saying Goodbye to Mom – by Joanne Jamis Cain

Submitted on Wednesday November 16th, 2022


My mom passed away in January 2022 at the age of 92. It had been a long couple of months as we bravely tried to manage her decline. It was hard, bittersweet, and amazing.

I have never been through anything like it in my life.

Seven years prior, my sisters and I began renting a beautiful condo in Siesta Key, FL, for the three of us to bring mom. It became a marvelous tradition. Initially we stayed for one week, but it soon became evident that staying two weeks was the only way to go. It is simply paradise there.

The year before my mother’s passing was an educational one. My sisters and I investigated every possible scenario that we could, the goal being to keep my mother in her home. Hospice was a blessing. My mother repeatedly told us that as long as she knew who she was and where she was, she wanted to be at home. Respecting these wishes became our goal, and we did everything we could to make this possible.

There was a series of events that led up to my mom finally being admitted to hospice, and by “admitted,” I mean she was allowed to stay in her home. Many doors opened at this point. It was about a month before her passing, and I painstakingly listened to what the aides and nurses were telling me.

Your mother could be bedbound in two weeks. Practice tough love and get her a hospital bed.

Make your mother comfortable and give her the medications that have been provided for her.

No one wants to admit they are losing a parent. Watching those frightening moments of struggle, pain, and suffering are not for the faint-hearted. At any time we could have taken my mother to a hospital or inpatient hospice, but we knew that was not what she wanted.

Friends and relatives came to visit. I’m sure it wasn’t easy for them to witness my mom in her delicate state. Some felt more comfortable than others and I understood that. My sisters and I welcomed everyone who came.

A few days before mom passed, her hometown family drove the hour and a half to see her. My sisters and I set the dining room table with the best linen, china, glasses, and silverware, the way our mother would have done for them. We prepared a simple lunch, but it felt like a feast. Mom slept through the whole thing, but rallied near the end of their visit and knew they were there. It was a spiritual experience to watch her.

In the last few days of her life, my sisters and I hunkered down at mom’s. It was very bonding – we ate together, slept in shifts, greeted the hospice workers, and managed mom’s care as best we could. We walked her final journey, her last time on earth, with her.

All of my worries over the past decade vanished at her passing. I’ve come to realize how much I had already grieved her loss in the last two years. When I would leave her, I’d picture the worst-case scenarios – her falling and hurting herself, breaking a hip, being on the floor, struggling to get herself up any way she could. In those moments, I’d flip the picture and pray to God that she would have the peaceful passing she deserved, and I wanted for her.

It happened. The traumatic incident that I prayed would not happen, never came. Instead, a gradual transition, a straddling of both this and another world, came into focus. Then slowly, the quiet slipping away to her departed family, where I’m sure they were waiting for her.

It’s nice to share. Thank you.