Mother briefly finds her voice

I spent time at my mother’s bedside mid-day yesterday. One of our cousins had visited earlier and my mom was, as they say, unresponsive. She slept, and when her eyes opened, she didn’t connect. On the positive side, she’s comfortable, clean, and is periodically offered tiny bits of apple sauce and water, although she has mostly been refusing them. Yesterday I bought some poi, and my sister, Bonnie, took it up late in the day.

In hospice, the patient decides. Whether to eat, drink, to prolong life or not. Their choice. These are the few choices one can still make at this stage of life. It’s hard for us, those who can only wait and watch. But it is what it is.

After I had been there for a while, my mom opened her eyes, but they had that vague, cloudy, blank look. She barely responded, if at all, when I held her hand and told her I was there. She drifted in and out, closing her eyes, sleeping, then drifting back, eyes opening.

According to the hospice staff, she hadn’t spoken since arriving there early Monday morning. This was Wednesday.

So I was startled when she suddenly became agitated. Her eyes cleared as she looked across the room, then she unsteadily raised a hand, pointed.

She spoke, the words slowly bursting into the room. She struggled to get them out.


“Don’t go!”

“Come back!”

Then she sort of relaxed back into the pillows, but her eyes were still bright and clear.

Her right arm was still raised, and this time she pointed to the foot of the bed.

Her voice was pretty clear, stronger than I could possibly have expected.

There was wonder, and loss, perhaps disappointment.

“He was right there,” she said, pointing to the foot of the bed. “Right there.”

She was speaking to herself, but I tried to gently ask who “he” was. It was enough to break up the moment.

She faded, eyes slowly closing, energy spent.

In the weeks before my father died, he referred several times to the people that were waiting for him. One day he asked me who was in the hall waiting to see him. Another time he said they were waiting in the next room.

“I really should go,” he told me, his tone of voice serious.

I don’t know what, or perhaps who, my mother saw. I don’t know if it was all part of a dream, or a glimpse somewhere into a world awaiting her arrival.

Believe not without evidences. But are these hallucinations or evidences? I suppose we’ll never know.

10 responses to “Mother briefly finds her voice

  1. Wow. Certainly suggests that there is a here and now, followed by a there and after, and that when one stands at the edge of the first, once can see into the second. A foot, or an awareness in both worlds, at the same time, before one goes the rest of the way to the other side.

  2. My father in law experienced the same sensations at his end. He saw his mother.

  3. i think you will find your astute daily observations can be material for a helpful book on end-of-life issues. we do need some education on that.

  4. My grandmother who lived to 100 and passed in 1997, often said her husband sat on the edge of the bed and sang to her. He passed in 1958.

  5. Just before my grandfather passed, he struggled to get out of bed in his Waimanalo home. When asked where he was going he said he had to go meet someone at Makapuu, a favorite place of his…When my Dad died he tried to get up out of his hospital bed too but was to weak to lift his frail body. The days leading up to his passing, he kept looking around the room as if someone was there with him. I asked him if someone was in the room and he said yes, Pua, his second wife who had passed 3 years before him. When my grandfather’s sister passed, she told those in the room to bring the car around to the front for the 5 of them (her mother and 4 siblings who were all diseased). There isn’t scientific proof but I’d like to believe na kupuna are waiting on the other side when its our time to go.

  6. There are so, so, so many stories of people seeing their deceased loved ones as they are on the brink of “taking off” themselves. I can think of several such stories off the top of my head. I don’t know what it means, but it must be comforting to the person dying. Heck, it’s comforting to me! Wouldn’t it be great?! Best wishes to your mom and you and your sister –

  7. P.S. I heard someone refer to dying as “taking off” once. She said, “When Mama took off….” and I have always liked that. My Tutu and I always said that, including when she was preparing to “take off” herself. She told me she liked that expression and that it made her think of someone driving away in a Volkswagen van.

  8. Another thought . . . . it may be facts, evidences but, if we confirm it, it will only be by going to a place from which we can not communicate the truth back to the living.

    Maybe what’s going on is that those who have gone before us are waiting to guide us on the trip that they took before us, when they were guided by those that left before them.

    So, it may not be that we NEVER know, just that when we do, we can’t tell those left behind, until it’s our turn to guide them across, too.

  9. thanks…terrific observations…great photos of vital people in their day.

  10. My Mom experienced the same thing. It started with a dream of a big white room with a man robed in white at a table, waiting, she said. When she became uncommunicative, she was often mumbling and pointing – ‘talking’ with those around her, although I was the only person in the room with her. Your Mom seems to be making her way to the other side, Ian. We wish her and you, Bonnie and Meda, peace and love.

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