An Unexpected Visitor
By Fernando Garcia
It was near my mother’s end. A hospital bed was set up in her living room. We got the news of ma’s pancreatic cancer three months before. My mother, who had feared death more than anything, cancer, we got the news in the doctor’s office, Ma was 84 years of age. Two of my sisters had taken her for the appointment.
Mom accepted the news calmly and with grace. The prognosis was not good, three to six months. My sisters were in tears as they informed us. The doctor gave them her options. An aggressive treatment with much discomfort with only the possibility of a short extension of life or treat the symptoms with effective drugs to keep her comfortable till the end. Thankfully ma chose the latter.
This woman who knew fear all too well handled her end with a courage we did not know she possessed.
I and my brothers and sisters took turns staying night and day with her two at a time. We fed her, changed her clothes, bathed and administered the pain medications. All was recorded in a log for the health care providers to check.
Initially she was coherent and very engaged with us, reading the newspaper and watching the news on her television. As Mom declined she asked for very little, her well-used rosary near at hand. The ever present picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patron saint of her beloved Mexico hung on the wall watching over her.
As the short weeks passed she began to come in and out of consciousness. On one afternoon when my wife and I were on duty she opened her eyes and asked me for her wedding ring, my father, her husband of nearly fifty years had long passed. She also asked for a ring my older brother and his wife had made for her with the birthstones of her seven children. I found both rings in her purse and handed them to her. She slipped them on and closed her eyes content.
A few moments later she came back to consciousness and asked me to open the front door. I quietly asked her why. She said there are people outside wanting to come in and it would be rude not to let them in.
We weren’t expecting any visitors nor did we hear anyone. My wife asked her “Carolina, do you hear angels?” I walked to the door to let them in and back to the bedside. Satisfied, Mom closed her eyes and drifted off to eternal rest.