Tom Simard

Poetry, Music, and Prose

“Put me down.”

Every year I return home to see my mom.

After a severe stroke three years ago, which had been preceded by a number of TIAs (mini-strokes) over the years beginning in the 1980s, she’s been declining steadily.  We were fortunate to get her driving license away from her about a year back before she’d killed anyone.  The truth be told it was her doctor who was responsible, and everyone who tells how easy it is is talking about someone else’s parent. Last November we got her into a wonderful assisted living facility where despite no longer being able to converse as she had and largely being fixated on three things (money, going out to eat, my room is a cage) she had a certain quality of life.

During the first week of my visit a month ago things went relatively well although I’ll be the first one to admit my mom has never been an easy person to deal with and age combined with cognitive impairment has not helped in this regard.  There was much for me to complain about and complain I did to friends and relatives and whoever was ready for an earful.  The next few days were as pleasant as they have ever been – we went out to eat at a great Italian place with a cousin and aunt, and she even went to the casino (She loves her slots.).  Then Wednesday mid-morning when I was about to go to her place for lunch, I got word she’d had a massive stroke.   The doctors did not think she’d survive. We were forced to put her into a nursing home and into the Rapid Terminal Decline program.

But she has since rebounded.  Her health care directive made it clear that she did not want to be in a nursing home (see title for a direct quote) and considered quality of life to be of the utmost importance.  We are constantly being pushed for therapy, which my sister and I are resisting to the very fiber of our being.

I was reminded of the wonderful film, The Sea Inside.

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12 thoughts on ““Put me down.”

  1. I’m sorry to read this Tom, the journey is really long and painful. I’m glad that you had the couple of days with your Mother that maybe shone a spot light of just being and having quality time together before her stroke. I’m holding you and your family in my thoughts.


  2. It is.

    I’m glad I did, too.

    Thanks so much.


  3. Hi Tom. Thinking of you. OA


    • Hi.

      Thanks for the kind words.

      The older I get the more I think going gently into that dark night is the approach that suits me best.


      • Peolpe have very firm ideas that can be hard for other people to deal with, especially if younger. I relate to your title. I was always told by a relative ‘ if I get like that, take me outside and shoot me’. I wasn’t called on to do this thank goodness.


  4. Yes, good thing on that account.

    While my mom and I see eye to eye on this particular point as I have no wish to continue if my mind’s gone (the really important thing for me), if her position had been different I’d have respected that as well. I find the answer to the question, “Whose life is it anyway?” to be a very simple one.


  5. This is not a journey for the faint of heart! My thoughts and prayers are with you.


    • Indeed. But I will say it’s easier than it was with my dad because when he went many years back his death was unexpected and also because my mom has made it abundantly clear what she wants.



  6. This is realty touching, and something that, try as I might, I can’t fully imagine. I’m glad that your mom is rebounding from the latest stroke and that you were able to spend time with her doing fun stuff. It must be difficult living so far away, but I was heartened to hear that you have a sister. That’s got to be some comfort

    I never know quite what to hope for in these situations, so I’ll just hope that everything works out the best for everybody.


  7. I’ve been on the survivors’ side of this a couple of times and I suspect the next time I’ll be on the other. not for a long time, I hope. And I ask should old age “burn and rave at close of day” or “Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled” or blog a bit of both?
    Thanks for the like, sorry to see you go.


    • The answer to the question you ask is obviously a very personal one, and it’s certainly interesting to consider each of the respective poet’s end in that regard.



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