2013 started out to be a wondeful experience for my husband and I. We had just moved into our first house and things were going well. I was enjoying decorating, unpacking and getting used to not having noisy neighbors over my head, stomping around all times of the day and night. Then I got a call that changed the rest of the year and will change my life forever. My mom is 85 and although I didn't think she'd live forever, I didn't think her health would decline and deteriorate as rapidly as it did. In February, I got a call from mom, saying she had shingles. Being 84 at the time, I knew how uncomfortable she would be and wondered why this had to happen to her at her age, so late in life. The very next day, she called to say she had fallen and fractured 3 ribs. The pain med's she was given for the shingles caused her to lose her balance. After that, it was a down hill spiral for her. She wound up with pneumonia and had to be hospitalized. During the medical assessment, it was found that she also had a mass in her chest, her kidneys were failing and she was said to have a little dementia. Mom lived in a small town in North Carolina, I live in Virginia. Once all this started, I had to go back and forth to deal with her health issues. I chose my home with her in mind. I have a beautiful 'master suite' with a fireplace, private bath with a walk-in shower, closet, two windows that get a lot of afternoon sun. I thought it would be perfect and comfortable for mom. But once her health became worse, I realized I wouldn't be able to give her the care she needed. Although I could get help through an agency to have someone come in to attend to her needs, I knew I couldn't afford 24/7 care and it wouldn't be fair to mom or for me to fool myself into thinking I could make it work. I have my own health issues including spinal arthritis which doesn't allow me to function some days when I make myself take my med's to alleviate the pain. So I had to make arrangement for mom to have the care she needed. She was placed in rehab at the hospital but she had every intention of returning to her apartment. I tried to talk her out of it to no avail so I supported her decision. Once she went home, Well Care set her up with home services; a CNA, weekly RN visits, a home health person, occupationally therapy and physical therapy. I was thinking she would get stronger and could resume her daily life of living alone and caring for herself as she had done for 30 years in this apartment. It didn't happen. Frequenly she had to return to the ER for various things. I pleaded with her to let me find an assisted living facility so she wouldn't have to worry about falling, breaking her hip, which I felt at her age, would have been a death sentence. "NO" was always the answer. Finally in August, I got another 3 A.M. call letting me know mom was in the ER and they were keeping her. She had been keeping things from me, I guess because she didn't want me to worry or take matters into my own hands by having her placed against her will. Many times she would be unable to get out of her recliner to attend to her bathroom needs and developed a bad sore on her bottom. When the RN visited her the last time, she realized something was wrong and called the rescue squad immediately. She had a serious infection. This caused mom to understand her situation would not get better as she hoped. She made her own decision to go into a skilled care facility. I was happy and sad at the same time. I knew she would now have someone to look after her health care needs without my having to worry about her living alone but at the same time, I knew it meant she would not be returning to the home she loved, the things she coverted, and had lost her independence. Jumping forward to the bottom line, mom developed an abscess in her colon and diverticulitis. Because of her age and condition, the doctors' felt she was too weak to have surgery to remove the diseased part of her colon which would also include a colostomy. They placed a drain in, hoping to collapse the abscess. It didn't work. I had plans of visiting mom for Christmas, it's her favorite time of year. On December 23, mom called me to say they wanted to place yet another drain but she said "NO." She had made her peace with God and was refusing anymore medical intervention; she was preparing to die. This broke my heart and I thought once I got there on Christmas eve, I would perk her up, bring her out of her depression and ask her to try the drain once more. I talked with her doctors' who informed me that the abscess would never heal on its' own so they wanted to place a drain and by pass the area by giving her the colostomy. Mom was adamant she would not allow it. Instead of trying to talk her into doing something she didn't want, I had to let her know I would support her and respect her decision. I am devastated. I had her placed in another facilty where she is now under hospice care and the waiting begins. Her kidney function is now stage 3 but we had talked about that long ago so I knew Dialysis was out of the question. I knew it was only for selfish reasons that I wanted her to try anything the doctors' thought would help but she knew in her heart, things would get worse and she mentally prepared herself for the inevitable. How do I prepare myself? I love her very much and will miss her desperately. I can't imagine not calling or seeing her beautiful face ever again unless I look at her photos. I even had to make her final cremation arrangements. This is so hard, the hardest I've ever faced and I'm having a very hard time coping with what I know is coming. My doctor says it's normal for me to feel this way, she'd be more worried if I didn't have the fear and anxiety. I have to let her go with the dignity she deserves and show her as much love as I can in whatever time she has left. The plan right now is to visit every 2 weeks even if it's only day trips. I talk to her several times a day and try to have a joke or something interesting to cheer her up. Actually, she's in better shape emotionally than I am. She looks at ease, at peace with what will happen. I came back home New Year's eve. I had to face the start of 2014 but I could not celebrate especially knowing I will lose my mother, the woman who loved me unconditionally all my life in this new year.