Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Eulogy to Mom

Wilhelmina Hanna Phillips (1917 - 2011) quietly passed away in her sleep a few minutes before 3pm on Tuesday, May 17, 2011. Her planned 94th birthday party was not celebrated on May 9 due to critical illness.

Cause of death was complications of the surgery performed May 11, 2011, attempting to correct the cause of her critical illness. At her request, no further surgery was performed in an attempt to resolve the complications; the best resulting physical condition was not acceptable to the patient and further major surgery itself held a low survival prognosis.

Wilhelmina changed her name in when she was married, in the early 1930's. (Her married name is with-held to protect the privacy of herself and her family.) She changed her name legally in the 1960's, from "Wilhelmina Hannah" to "Mina", because she was known familiarly by friends and family as Mina (to rhyme with "Myhana", not "Meena"; she was insistent upon the correct pronunciation).

Mina's husband, Vernon, proceeded her in death in December of 1994 after more than sixty years of marriage.

Mina is survived by two children (Shirley, of Eugene Oregon and Jerry, of Corvallis Oregon). Other survivors include four grandchildren, about 22 great-grandchildren, and a mixed Shi Tsu / Lhasa-Apso named Bogie.

All of the surviving members are now struggling to re-envision their own lives without the love of the woman they knew variously as Mom, Mina, Nana and (in Bogie's case) a gleeful "Woof!".

A private celebration for family and invited friends is planned for June, when goodbye wishes will be inked on helium filled balloons, which will then be released to follow her soul to heaven.

For EPA definition purposes, the withered remains of these balloons will be classified as "free-range prayers".

Environmentalists who wish to protest these arrangements may apply directly to Mom, c/o God, in Heaven.

Unsuccessful protests may be adjudicated by Satan; travel by POV is authorized, and encouraged.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Not Mother's day

We were all so pleased, and optimistic when my mother came through her major surgery on Wednesday, and even more pleasantly surprised when her first day after the operation proved her to be in very little pain, relatively speaking. The third day, second after the operation, I spoke to her on the phone and she seemed more concerned about me and my sister than about herself.

That was Friday.

Saturday, the nurses recorded a significant change in blood pressure. Blood tests were not encouraging.

The following day, Sunday, my sister phoned me in tears. The doctors had determined that regardless of their prior optimism, apparently some sort of "infection" had developed within the operational area, defined by the surrounding pelvic girdle. Their only choice would have been to immediately re-enter the torso, remove the colon, excise any possibility of infected tissue, and fit her for a colostomy bag.

Mother had already decided against 'heroic' (or "extreme") attempts to extend life, and voiced a strong preference to NOT ending her life with a bag on her belly. The doctors told my sister thta the only possible outcome was that the infection would prove fatal in the near future.

Mom is in the hospital doped to the gills with Morphine Sulfate; both to minimize the amount of discomfort (searing pain) ad to encourage her to sleep as much as possible.. She is incapable of lucid communication, obviously suffers hallucinations when the painkiller dose is too low, and does not appear to recognize any of her family or personal friends who have visited her.

We are on a death watch. It is almost the same situation as the family of Mom's friend and neighbor endured earlier, except that we don't know if our mother will linger for days or weeks ... or hours.

I've returned home to shave, shower, and get a few hours of sleep. Yesterday slept from 4am to 6am this morning; Friday I didn't sleep at all. My sister gets by on her firm intention to be as much help to her mother as possible, and the support of friends and family. My eldest niece is an active Christian and supports us all with prayer from time to time.

Obviously I won't be talking here much for a few days. I may borrow my sister's laptop if I feel I need to vent, but I'll try to spare my friends that experience.