Conversations with my mom before she died

By Rick Hinton

My mother died in 2015. Many times there are still those moments of, “Could I have done anything differently?” Mom was a control freak, always had been but I loved her regardless. In 1985 when my dad suddenly died, her world went into a direction no one wishes to go: dealing with being alone, insurance, finances, burial and my grandparents very much still alive. I was the one that awoke them at 5:30 a.m. to the news that their son, and my father, had died. It was a surreal experience that I never care to repeat! They both rapidly deteriorated after that morning and it was my mom that had to care for them!

My grandmother, Bessie, eased into dementia, closely followed by Alzheimer’s. We made the decision to remove her from her home after she appeared over my grandfather Rhee’s bed several times in the early morning hours, holding a cast iron skillet and screaming, “Who are you?” My grandfather claimed he could take care of her, but he couldn’t. She became a resident of the Alzheimer’s wing at Community Hospital South where wackiness ensued.

My 10-year-old father, Bob, with his parents, Bessie & Rhee. (Submitted Photo)

Rhee, although physically challenged, remained in the house for awhile. We tried to make it work for him. We had Meals On Wheels deliver. He didn’t go for that! “It tasted like cardboard,” he said. He became defiant and appeared himself to be gradually easing into dementia. After a hip replacement, my mother placed him into a room at Community South. He died shortly thereafter, on Dec. 27, 1993. He simply gave up. Grandmother Bessie didn’t attend the funeral. Mentally she was already gone, living in another world of her choosing. She died a few months later, on June 25, 1994. My mother found her in her room with her mouth open and unfocused eyes directed toward the ceiling. No one should have to experience that but my mother did. A big chunk of my world abruptly slipped away. Rhee had taught me how to hunt, fish, trap and harvest ginseng. Bessie taught me about the virtues of Campbell’s bean with bacon soup, set up my first bank savings account and expounded the virtues of the Lord. I wasn’t ready to let go, but then again, are we ever?

Rhee shortly before his death with myself, my infant son, Kyle and my mother, Bobbie.

With the responsibility of my grandparents behind her, my mom tried to move on but she couldn’t. She was lonely. She made some bad decisions. One was remarrying. I didn’t like it but I wanted her to be happy. She retired from AT&T and decided to be closer to her family in Jamestown, Kentucky. My childhood home on South Post Road was sold and I helped them move to her new home on a bluff above Lake Cumberland. The marriage didn’t last and once again she was alone. Her house and nearby family became her refuge. I visited often and loved the house and location. However, it gave off a weird vibe. I always felt that there were more presences there than just us. Mom would smile slightly and ask, “Do you think it’s haunted?” Then I didn’t know… now I’m sure it is. My mother’s house is now MY house.

Life moved forward and all was well, until my mom got sick and her life spiraled into a different direction. And the house got even weirder. But, that’s another story…