When it rains, it pours…

Stefano and I returned to Italy a couple of days ago. Those ten days we spent in the U.S.A. might well have been the worst days of my life thus far…worse even than when I received my cancer diagnosis…I mean, it was simply awful awful awful, every day, every minute of every day…

The “good” thing is that Stefano and I did get to Cape Cod in time to say goodbye to Mom, and in fact she is still alive. But I don’t think she will last very much longer. She is amazingly weak…The nurse practitioner, whom Stefano and I went to see shortly after we arrived, told us that “there is no going back.”

She’s dying. She isn’t eating enough to keep herself alive…

The “funny” thing is that she is drinking colas (sweetened, carbonated soft drinks) every day. This started back in February, when she began experiencing a lot of nausea after her second hip operation. She now drinks two or three colas a day, at least. My mother wouldn’t have touched a cola with a ten-foot pole a few months ago. But now she finds them “refreshing.” Under other circumstances, that would have been very amusing…very amusing indeed.

She is also drinking small shakes containing Ensure (yes, yes, yes, I know that this stuff is crap, mainly water and sweeteners and chemicals…But she likes the taste, so…whatever…).

The entire time I was there, the only solid food I saw her eat was a small slice of quiche…oh and a tiny bowl of jello. She waves food away. She doesn’t want any. My sister has tried bringing her all sorts of goodies. Nothing has worked.

And now it’s too late.

Stefano and I went to say our final goodbye to Mom on Monday morning, before leaving for Boston Logan airport. She was turned on her side, fast asleep.

I began saying, more loudly each time, “Mom…Mooom…MOM…MOOOOOM!!!!!,” but she didn’t wake up. I began gently shaking her shoulder, then a bit more forcefully, still calling her. No reaction. The thought that she might have slipped into a coma crossed my mind, so I ran to the nurses’ station for help. A nurse rushed in and did what I had done, talking to Mom and shaking her shoulder.

Mom finally opened her eyes. And so we had a little more time together. I pretended to have an allergy when I felt tears welling up in my eyes as I told her that we are all okay (and similar “goodbye” sentences)…But she seemed not to notice…The tiny little creature in that bed really isn’t my Mom anymore…

Later on that day, I thought that going into a coma wouldn’t be such a bad way to go. No pain, just…sleep. I hope that will be the way she will slip away from us…

But let’s get to the title of my post. When it rains, it pours.

Exactly a week ago, on Thursday evening, my Dad said he didn’t feel too well and wanted to go to bed before dinner. My sister and I tucked him in, and he reassured us that he would be okay. After dinner, I went upstairs to check on him, and he looked and felt awful. He had a fit of the chills, so I took his temperature, which turned out to be rather high. I went downstairs to tell my sister and get him a glass of water and some Tylenol. The two of us decided to take him to see the doctor in the morning if he wasn’t feeling much better.

When I got back upstairs, I saw Dad staggering toward the bathroom, moaning and groaning, all bent over. I rushed to him and grabbed him just in time, before he fell down, I mean. He’s a tall guy, too heavy for me, so I yelled for help. Stefano and my nephew came running and gently lowered Dad to the bathroom floor. My sister called an ambulance, while I asked Dad some questions to make sure he hadn’t suffered a stroke. He was a bit confused but answered the basic questions…

The long and short of it is that Dad spent three days in the hospital. Diagnosis: pneumonia. He is now out of the hospital and, get this!, he is in the same clinic where Mom is, except Dad is in the rehab part…

So right now, Mom and Dad are under the same roof, and he can visit her for longer periods of time. That is not a bad thing, all things considered. They have been happily married for 61 years…

It was hard for me to get on that plane bound for Italy on Monday. I broke down at the airport when I realized that I probably won’t see my Mom alive again. But Stefano and I had to get home. And it’s just as well we did…

IMG_6311My cat sitter called us as soon as we landed to let me know that she’d found quite a bit of blood on the bathroom floor the previous evening. She had examined all the cats but hadn’t been able to figure out which one had been bleeding…

So Stefano and I went looking for Puzzola, our eldest cat, the only one who hadn’t greeted us at the door. We finally found her all scrunched up a corner of the bathroom. She wasn’t moving, and she didn’t react to our calling her name and petting her. When we spotted the blood underneath her, we rushed her immediately to the vet clinic.

Thank goodness it turned out not to be a hemorrhage of any sort but “only” a very bad bladder infection. So now she is on antibiotics…and she is going to be fine.

Welcome home.

P.S. Incidentally, Priscilla, the cat who had convulsions before we left for the U.S.A., is fine. The vets couldn’t find anything wrong with her…nothing in her X-rays or in her blood tests. We’ll just keep a close eye on her and hope it was a one-time, weird thingy.


  1. Hi Margaret- I’m sorry to hear about your mom. My prayers are with her and your family, as well as your dad.

    – Robin

  2. Prayers for you to get through this difficult time, Margaret. One thing I might mention for your mom, it may not be possible to arrange from Italy, perhaps your sister can get it for her. There is an organic version of Ensure called Orgain. Can be found at Whole Foods and Walgreen’s. This was a life saver for me when I was dehydrated. See if your mom will like the taste of that better, Ensure is garbage.

  3. Your headline says it all. I am so sorry you could not stay but you are correct about her physical state. The craving for the drinks probably has to do with one or more of the B vitamins being depleted. Your parents are fortunate you were there just at the right time, while they knew you were there. ? Thanks for update on your kitties… I had wondered. Thinking of you all.

  4. E’ tutto così incredibilmente triste. Sono vicino a te e Stefano in questi momenti così dolorosi.

  5. so sorry that you have been through a hard time, I am thinking if you and your family, look after yourself Margaret.

  6. Sorry to read this Margaret. Life can be bitter sweet and so very difficult. I am dealing with aging parents as well. Glad you had some quality time with your parents on this trip.

  7. Weep for you … such a very hard time, Margaret. I lost my dad a month ago following pneumonia and now care for my mum who is 90 and is disabled through strokes. They were married for 70 years – she is a lost soul. And what a great emotional support they have been through my husband’s Myeloma and Lymphoma treatments & stem cell transplant. My sister lives in the States but we are all in the UK. So very hard for her. I really feel your pain. Very best wishes and every strength to you all.

  8. Margaret I’m so sorry you are having these hard times. My Mom is in 90s so we’ve had some issues and scares so kind of feel what you are going though. Love and prayers to you and your family.

  9. I’m sorry for your mom’s failing health, Margaret. I lost my mom last October and could not be there for her except for a few visits and her last days. I don’t know if the hospice words of wisdom were for the family’s peace of mind; but the nurse told us that mom was more comfortable at the last without having to use energy for digestion. It helped to know that she was not starving fora food that we were not offering to her.

  10. Margaret, I am so sorry to read about what developed after your Mom’s fall. We care for my 97 year old mother-in-law and 85 year old Mom so I know how difficult this is. My thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family.

  11. My thoughts and prayers are with you, please take good care of yourself now, this is extremely important, Beatrice

  12. Thinking of you during these sad and difficult days! I’m sure your heart stops each time the phone rings! I pray for you and your family often…not for healing but for peace, comfort, and strength. I hope you can feel my love and the love of so many others whose lives you have touched. God bless you my friend!

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