Hospice’s initial assessment: Her body is shutting down. Food is no longer necessary. Ice chips will provide some relief as she transitions. We obeyed the “No food. Ice chips only” directive, and we expected the daily stream of hospice nurses to obey it as well. However, we discovered that nurses often ignored directives and dispensed their own brand of care. To make sure they followed the rules, Deecy and I stopped them at the front door with the directive in hand. This worked well until one nurse, after noting the directive, turned to our mother and blurted out, “Are you hungry?” We practically leaped over the bed to stifle her. But when Mom’s eyes snapped open, the nurse accused us of starving her to death. She called her supervisor and repeated the accusation. Hospice told her to leave, and she did so in a huff.
But now with that thought ringing in my head, I couldn’t overlook the possibility. Are we starving our mother to death? Could that rebel nurse be right, and the hospice assessment be wrong? Mom showed no signs of hunger or desire for food in weeks, but holy shit, maybe we were hastening her death. Overwhelmed with guilt, I rushed to her bedside and asked, “Are you hungry, Mom?” She instantly perked up, “Whaddaya got?” Shocked, I offered, “Anything you want.” After considerable thought, she said, “How about some pumpkin pie?” March is not exactly pumpkin pie season, but Michael accepted the challenge, and by some miracle, returned with not one but two pumpkin pies.
Mom spit out the first spoonful. “That didn’t go so well.” We tried again to great success, maybe too great. Totally energized, she downed half a pie. The next day she finished the second pie. She was back.
A few days later, when Deecy was alone with Mom, she asked, “Who was in the corner of the room?” Mom didn’t respond. “Was it God?” This question surprised her, but she remained silent. Deecy pressed. “Did He speak to you?” Mom smiled and nodded. “What did He say?” Mom whispered, “Be patient.”