How the promise of a bubble bath changed a family’s end-of-life experience
My mom, Kerry, was the definition of a ‘social butterfly’ in the best way possible. She had a genuine interest in everyone she met and a contagious laugh that could fill a room. She made people feel important and taken care of, which also made her a great waitress, a career she took pride in. She lived for traveling to the beaches of Cuba and when asked what she liked most about it she would tell you, the people. She mastered the balance of being my mom and best friend and, as a single parent, worked so hard to make sure I had everything.
In the spring of 2019, after months of various unexplained symptoms, Mom was diagnosed with liver failure. At the time, the doctors were hopeful that with treatment and healing there was a good chance of a full recovery. Just two months later, after calling Mom and not getting through, I had a sense that something was very wrong. I immediately got in my car and drove the hour to Chatham and found Mom in a state that will haunt my memories forever. It was the first day of an incredibly difficult journey, and the first day my mom as the vibrant, run-circles-around-me woman I knew her to be, was gone forever.
We spent the next two years battling every obstacle that came our way and Mom slowly became more and more ill. She eventually had to quit a job she loved, leave a town full of friends she adored, and move in with me and my family so I could care for her full time. At the end of August 2021, Mom had a fall. I must have known in my heart it was the start of the end because instead of driving her to the hospital in Windsor, like so many times before, I headed to the highway and drove to Chatham. It was there where we got the news my house was no longer safe for Mom. The hope of a liver transplant, which was what kept us going, was no longer on the table as she was just too weak. Completely exhausted, Mom made the impossibly difficult decision that she was done with needles and procedures and most of all hospitals and wanted to spend whatever time she had left free of those things.
When the Chatham-Kent Hospice was brought to our attention, I was hesitant at first. Wasn’t hospice a depressing place?
But the more I researched, the more I realized it was actually quite beautiful and looked incredibly peaceful. And it had an accessible bath tub! Mom had been wishing for a hot bubble bath since the start of her illness but was too weak for the one we had. It was actually the bath tub that finally sold us.
The CK Hospice was everything we hoped for and more. Mom got her bubble bath and I felt somewhat at peace for the first time in 2 years. Instead of taking care of Mom’s medications, meals, and every need like I had been, I was able to just be her daughter again, a role I missed very, very much. Her suite was beautiful and she felt relaxed and at home watching all her shows on her big TV with friends and family and even our puppy who had become the light in her life. To top it off, the staff were beyond words. Each and every one of them were so nice and knowledgeable and also had the best sense of humour which was so appreciated by Mom.
They made Mom laugh everyday which made me so happy to see. She got to be the ‘social butterfly’ she was one last time. In her final hours, they were so in tune with Mom’s needs, even when she couldn’t verbalize them, and made her safe and comfortable. They made a horrible situation so much better which I know is one of the main reasons I’m feeling at peace today.
I will cherish the CK Hospice forever and am so happy we made that very difficult decision; the decision that ended up being the easiest.
-Shared by Lisa in loving memory of her mom, Kerry