Going Home: In Remembrance of Gladys Brown
Written by her daughter Barb Baxter and family
The meeting with the doctor at Gunderson was not what we expected. As a matter of fact, we were totally blind sided, to say the least.
The mass they found on mom’s lung was indeed cancer, and it had metastasized into her bones. She had Stage 4 Bone Cancer.
It was a week before our family Christmas. How do we tell our kids? Please, God, help us to find the right words.
Driving home that cold December day, my mom looked out across the mighty Mississippi, and then turned to me and said, “I’m not going to do anything to prolong this. No chemo, no radiation, nothing. I am not afraid to die and I know my husband and my son are waiting for me.” I smiled at her and said, “Good for you, Mom. I think you are making the right decision.” Then I prayed, “Please, God, don’t let her suffer.”
We had a wonderful Christmas, even though there was a dark gray cloud hanging over us. Mom said she wanted to see her 90th birthday, which was July 19th. However, we knew in our hearts that it probably wouldn’t happen.
I was sitting in the Maui Airport in February, waiting for the plane that would take me home after a wonderful nine day vacation, when I got a call from my brother. How soon was I coming home? Mom needed hospice! I said I was on my way.
I got to my mom’s house on a Thursday and was greeted by my brother. We discussed the situation and made the decision to call in hospice that afternoon.
It proved to not only help our mom, but the entire family.
Friday morning, the hospice nurse arrived at 9:30 a.m. After an assessment, she ordered pain medication, oxygen, a porta-potty - everything that we were needing, but were unable to get on our own. In other words, she took charge of mom’s healthcare. She was wonderful! She asked Mom if she was hurting anywhere; she then made decisions on what to do to keep mom comfortable.
Once mom was without pain, the nurse invited mom to reflect on how she looked at life and her imminent death.
My mom was a devoted Christian, and she was not afraid to say it. She stated bluntly that she knew her husband, Buster, and her son, Jeff, were waiting for her in heaven and that she did not, in any way, want to prolong her life here on earth. She said outright, “I’m ready to go, and I am not afraid to die!”
Mom told the nurse that she had her funeral all planned out - who the pallbearers were, who was singing what songs, and what song the congregation would sing.
When her minister arrived to give her the sacraments, she asked mom if she wanted to talk about the arrangements. Mom looked at me and said, “Give her the list, Barbie, so she knows who is doing what.” Pastor laughed and said, “You must have thought about this, Gladie.” Mom answered, “What else have I got to think about!”
Mom passed away in her own home, peacefully, on March 9th, holding our hands. As she breathed her last breath, she smiled.
We know that Dad and Jeff were up there just waiting for her and she was happy to see them. She was finally going home to be with her Lord.
I cannot say enough about the Crossing Rivers Health Hospice team. They were always there when we needed them. They helped Mom, and us, through some very difficult times. They knew when to increase her meds to keep her comfortable. They gave our family emotional support in so many different ways. I feel that God had hand-picked these people for us. They truly have a special gift.
Even though mom has been gone for three months, I still receive phone calls from our social worker. These people really care about each and every person they care for AND their family members. I honestly feel blessed that Crossing Rivers Health has a hospice team that helps every family get through a very difficult time with dignity and grace.
Our family would like to acknowledge the wonderful Hospice team that cared for our mother: Trisha Trautsch, Kay Day, Fonda Dickman, Chaplain Pat Malanaphy and Brittney Miller. Our lives were deeply touched by the love and care of these amazing, thoughtful people.