When one’s parents get old, they start relying on their kids a lot more. Peter grew up in a quiet town with his parents, Julia and Stephen. They had a simple life, and John remembered spending many days pining for one day’s leave and making something great of his life. When the time came, he packed his bags, and only looked back on birthdays and special holidays like Christmas. He loved his parents, and he sent cash over to them regularly, even when they weren’t expecting any.
Then, his father passed
Stephen and Julia had lived a humble life. They weren’t so interested in the same healthy lifestyles we see so often all over social media. Stephen, Peter’s father, had a heart disease that claimed his life. His loss was a great blow to Julia, who was not ready to live without him. Peter had to take leave from work to come through for the funeral. After a few days of being with his mother, he realized she could not be left at home alone. So, he organized with his boss so that he could work from afar and he stayed for a little longer.
Peter had always been a dutiful son, and when his father passed away, he knew his responsibility was to take care of his mother. She was in her mid-seventies, and while she was still relatively healthy, John knew she would need extra help and support as she got older. Then, she had a tumble while he was out getting groceries, and her health took a turn for the worst. Her brittle bones snapped easily in the fall, and now she needed more help than John could.
She kept getting worse
Even when her leg began to heal, and she could get around a bit more, she wasn’t so great at remembering to take her medication. Peter knew he needed some help. His boss had expressed frustration over him being so distracted when working, and he feared he would lose his job.
After much contemplation, Peter sent his mother to a nursing home. He knew it wasn’t what she wanted, but he believed it was the best thing for her. The nursing home was a clean and well run facility, and Peter was confident that his mother would receive the care and support she needed there.
Peter broke the news to Mary, who did not take it well. She cried profusely, saying she could not bear losing her husband and son. John smiled and hugged her, trying to reassure her that she is not losing him. He told her he chose a great nursing home not far from where he lived so that he could visit as much as possible. Mary agreed, but she was definitely not happy with his decision.
She began to settle in
Despite her initial reservations, Julia quickly settled into her new life at the nursing home. She made new friends and enjoyed participating in the various activities and events offered by the facility. John visited her as often as possible and was relieved to see that she was happy and well cared for. The nurses would email him about her health and the various activities she gets up to.
On one phone call, they told her she had started a committee for the tenants at the old age home. They would petition for certain guest speakers to come in and the odd facility improvement. Peter would laugh to himself, remembering the firey women that raised him. He always thought she would have made a great president.
They told him to say his goodbyes
Julia had been sick for a long time. She had been living in a nursing home for the past few years, and John visited her weekly. He knew that her time was running out, but he never expected to get the call from the nursing home saying that he needed to come to say goodbye. He rushed to the nursing home, his heart heavy with grief. When he arrived, he found his mother lying in bed, surrounded by nurses. She was unconscious and barely breathing.
The nurses told Peter that his mother had taken a turn for the worse and that they didn’t expect her to last much longer. He was devastated, but despite his sadness, Peter knew that he needed to be strong for his mother. He sat by her bedside, holding her hand and telling her how much he loved her. He told her about all the good times they had shared over the years and how grateful he was for everything she had done for him.
The nurses at the nursing home were incredibly kind and compassionate. They had done everything they could to make John’s mother comfortable in her final days, and they had been a great source of support for Peter as well. Especially now in her most dire time.
As the hours passed, John’s mother’s breathing became shallower and shallower. Peter knew that the end was near. He held his mother’s hand tightly, trying to will her to hang on just a little longer. This was when she made the most profound statement. Instead of sharing her last words of wisdom with her son before she passed, she decided to get technical and talk about her will.
A change of plans
Peter tried to change the topic, not wanting to waste the last few moments he had with his mother on such serious talk. However, Julia was persistent, telling him it was important. She could barely get her words out, and it pained Peter to see her like this, but he nodded and let her continue. He could see how important this was for her.
As Peter sat back down in his chair, Julia took in a deep breath. She barely had any strength left. She cleared her throat and began to talk about her time here at the nursing home. She spoke about how kind the nurses were but how frustrating it was to live here. This was because the facilities were often not up to par. So, he thought it would be a fitting parting gift to this world if she could renovate the nursing home.
Peter was so shocked by this. He asked her why she had not said anything while she lived here. Julia responded that she felt like she was a bother. He had already sent her there, and she didn’t want to disturb her anymore. She went on to say that she was concerned for him. When he asked why she explained that the chances of his kids sending him to the same nursing home when he is old are pretty high. The thought of him suffering in the same conditions was too much. So, this was how she showed her love to her son one last time. Regardless of being sent to a nursing home, she loved him very much.
Keep Reading: Son Kicks Out 80-Year-Old Mother to Nursing Home, Years Later Doesn’t Find Her There — a Short Story