By Rick Hinton
When I pulled my mother out of the nursing home, bringing her back to her own house, I expected it to be of short duration. My sister-in-law, Lynn, expected the same, having uprooted from Florida and giving up her own life to care for her. Mom lived almost two additional years. And, with not only the physical challenges of dealing with my mother, there was also the house’s reactions to it all. It took on a persona of its own, carrying over to today. Just a few examples of many:
While visiting one weekend, my wife Laura’s finger was flicked hard while sleeping with her arm thrown over me. It produced a red mark; in that very bedroom, the dresser handles would lift and fall throughout the night; while using the back bathroom, Laura watched the door handle turn back and forth, with the door finally opening. No one was in the hallway; I’d left my phone in the garage when we left one day to sightsee. When we returned it was hanging on the door handle in the laundry room; Laura watched a basketball sized orb move about the backyard.
I was there on weekends. Lynn had to live with it 24/7.
She constantly heard footsteps outside her bedroom at night (being my mother’s bedroom); her feet were touched in bed on occasion; she had a monitor on the nightstand beside her bed. Many nights she heard my mom in conversation, yet, speaking fluently and in a voice that seemed to be from her youth; mom would often stare at a chair in the corner of her room, stating a “man” was sitting there. She never said who it was; Lynn and a part-time caregiver, Theresa, watched a glass slide across the kitchen island; a winter experience of footsteps in the snow leading from the backyard to the door of my mom’s sunroom. There were no departing footsteps!
Dementia persuasions? Sure… it could have been. The mind does funny things with a body on a downward spiral. But the other events? I don’t think so. Many visits, when Mom was somewhat lucid, she asked that I kill her. She didn’t want to live like that. I asked her if she wanted her son to go to prison? She would look at me with a vacant stare. Other times she would demand I help her out of bed so she could cook breakfast or drive into town. The humor kicked in. I swept back her bed covers and told her, “Sounds good, have at it!” She continued to lay prone, giving me the ‘stare.’ Every weekend I’d pull into her driveway on a Friday evening, I would take a deep breath and say, “OK… I can do this!” I realize now that I really couldn’t.
Our friend, Jennifer, is currently caretaking the house. She had a rough start (covered in past Southside Times articles), yet now all is quiet and whatever’s still there… they co-exist. My wife, Laura, has her own impressions: the location is a portal of sorts, a vortex, a train station with spirits passing through. Personally, I believe my mother moved on when she died. She’s not there!
Hospice called that July in 2015. “You need to get here!” The house felt heavier than normal. I knew it was time. Her breathing was labored and loud. I talked to her throughout the afternoon, telling her it was OK to move on. A few times I felt (or imagined) she squeezed my hand. My brother, Kerry, arrived from Florida. Around 8 p.m. that evening she took her last breath as I held her hand. I told my uncle Lewis, sitting in the chair in the corner, that she was gone. He left the house. He went to his car in the driveway to cry.
I believe the house cried also.