My mother’s first attempt at dying, the first I knew of anyway, occurred on February 5, 2011, nine days after her eighty-ninth birthday. I was working at my sister’s design firm in Grand Rapids, Michigan, making extra cash to keep my struggling Los Angeles snack food business afloat. My bachelor life made the journey back and forth between the Pacific and the Lake Michigan coasts easy, even for weeks at a time. I had no children and few responsibilities outside of work, but that all changed when the call came.
Well-schooled by hospice nurses, Deecy and I became proficient in tending to our mother’s daily needs including: Sponge baths, bedsore treatment, diaper, clothes, and bedding changes—not easy with the helpless patient lying in bed. During our stay, we took over most duties, taking breaks only when hospice paid their regular visits. Mom was now sitting up, alert, smiling, talking, eating umpteen bowls of sherbet, and only sherbet. Lemon, lime, watermelon or raspberry, the flavor didn’t matter, just keep it coming. Her “If you don’t already have diabetes, you will surely get it now diet” lasted for several weeks. I know what you’re thinking. I was right there with you. Sherbet may not seem like the smartest medicine, but that’s all she wanted. And who were we to question this eighty-nine-year-old Phoenix who rose from the dead with renewed youth and energy? Genevieve was back, and in the pink.