Monday, September 5, 2011

The Other Side of Paradise

My mother is back in the hospital. This is her third hospital stay this year.

Her first visit was the end of February. During her six week hospital stay, and after many "uncomfortable" tests, she was diagnosed and treated for Krone's Disease. After several weeks in rehab she was able to return home under the watchful eye and occasional help of someone who lived in the house in exchange for such services.

But within weeks Mom was back in the hospital, this time with an infection and a blood clot. Recovery and rehab was harder that time, and when she returned home it was with the constant care of a licensed care-giver.

Last month she entered assisted living. Things looked good for the first few weeks. During her months of illness and recovery she had lost a great deal of weight, but the food at the assisted living facility was tempting and good, and we hoped that her appetite would increase.

About ten days ago, she grew weak. She was in pain and didn't feel like eating or drinking. She didn't rally for the visit of my brother, Glenn, from Kentucky, last weekend, nor for the visit of my other brother, Jim, and two of his children, this weekend. Her condition worsened and she was taken to the ER late Friday night. She was admitted, spent two days in the Critical Care unit, and continues to be treated for dehydration.

She's been through a lot in the past six months, and is tired and worn out from the struggle. It is heartbreaking.

At times like these, we are smacked in the face with the unpleasant realities of life. That so much suffering can exist side by side with so much beauty, that life can be full of great sadness and also great joy, has always been one of life's mysteries.

While I choose to focus on the joy, I am well aware that there is another side of paradise.

Here is a photograph representing one of my mother's great joys, her family. Little Nora (one of Mom's many great-grandchildren) laughs with delight, as Tamara (one of Mom's many grandchildren) pushes her on the swing this weekend at the park near my house.

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