Day 18 The Blog I Dreaded to Post

The Final Sunset

My mother Ruth Burdick Williams Stanton gave up her long struggle with pancreatic cancer this morning at 4:40am. She was in her daughter Margaret’s arms and died with a smile on her face. She had endured so much for so many long months and refused pain medication to the end. She would rather hurt than sleep, the pain a reminder she was still alive.

“Granny” Ruth was simply a remarkable woman.
For those of you who have been following my blog, you know that my mother has been very ill and this was not unexpected.
For those of you who have not read my blog I will attempt a brief outline of events. It started a year and a half ago when she kept complaining that something was wrong. She finally asked me to accompany her to her doctor visits because somehow she was not getting though to anyone that something was amiss.

From that point on her wonderful son-in-law, the guy I was smart enough to marry and hang on to patiently drove and waited in the waiting room through countless trips to the doctor, Urgent Care, and Emergency Rooms.

A stroke on Dec 26th everything in her world changed. She was given a week to ten days to live. After ten days in hospice she had improved. I was her security blanket translating her hand gestures and guttural sounds for everyone.

Six weeks of therapy later she was beginning to talk, was walking and dressing herself, had a great sense of humor and with a shiny new red walker her son-in-law drove her home to resume life.

A broken hip, surgery, more therapy, three more falls, two concussions, three compression fractures to her back, stitches in her head and a broken wrist ensued. Through it all she remained lucid, pleasant, refused pain meds because they made her groggy and she found lots to laugh about.

Everyone everywhere she went loved her, and commented on her sense of humor, her sweet disposition, her lack of complaints, and her willingness to work so hard to get well.

Her speech was always the first to go with every episode and each time it was harder and harder for her to make any sounds at all. The last 6 months she could only communicate mainly with a nod or shake of her head. She wore a cell phone around her neck that all she had to do was push one button and it would automatically dialed me. We would play 20 questions until I could figure out what she needed and could get help to her while I waited.

It must have been miserable when she understood everything going on and could not express herself. She would try and try and finally give up, a few times tears flooded her eyes. The paralysis having a hold on her vocal chords and her tongue, both are needed to form words. Our very verbose and chatty mom was silenced.

One day she turned bright yellow. Tests revealed she had pancreatic cancer and there was nothing that could be done for her. They gave her two to three  weeks to live. She survived for ten weeks and one day. All but the last week were good ones and we were very thankful for each good day.

When I kissed my mom goodbye last night I felt it might be the last goodnight kiss I would ever give her. I was glad my sister was still there when she had an event that prompted my sister to stay. Mom did get her wish to not be alone when the time came. I wish I had stayed also; as it was I went to bed at midnight and sleep did not come as I waited for the phone to ring. My husband also tossed and turned waiting for the dreaded call. It came at 4:50.

So many people have asked me how I am doing. A funny question, I am doing fine, alternating between sadness, missing her already, and relief that she is free from suffering and pain for the first time in nearly a year.

Mom August 6, 2011

My wish for her is that she is dancing in heaven today, enjoying lots of laughs and the ability to communicate freely once again. I miss you already. You almost made it to your 90th birthday. Bye, Mom, I love you.


G’ Day, I wish you a wonderful day. Don’t forget to hug and tell the important people in you life you love them. You never know if you will have tomorrow.



Filed under Family, Random

4 responses to “Day 18 The Blog I Dreaded to Post

  1. I just stumbled across your blog and I’m sorry to read about your sad news. It’s such an emotional roller coaster when things like this happen. She sounds like a very strong woman and it’s amazing that she kept smiling through it all. It’s such a good reminder to tell those we care about that we love them.

    • Thank you so much. Yes, the roller coaster for so long is something that nothing in our life actually prepares us for. It has been hard on my husband and I to be on call 24/7 for so very long. No plans can be made except to stay close by, visit often, keep the phone charged and in my pocket.

  2. I wrote to you in an email to say how much your story of your beloved mother touched me. I just wanted to again say how sorry I am for your loss. The picture of her is so beautiful. I can see in those eyes how much she was loved.

    • Thank you, Christine. I had far for more years than most people have parents in their lives. Her last 10 months were horrible for her and I wish that kind of trauma on no one. However, the flip side is we spent hours together. Time we would not have taken under other circumstances. She raised me to be strong and loving and face adversity. Character development that is serving me well.

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