A Kaddish for my mother, Ruth Leavitt Kadish

A guest post by Lori Goldwyn

It’s been 7 months since my mother’s passing on September 19, 2010. At 94, she’d been relatively healthy and able-bodied (save for Dementia and moderate-severe hearing and vision loss), taking hardly any meds and using only a four-pronged cane to get around. As she’d begun to fall more frequently, we tried in vain to get her to use her walker (we’d given up on her getting a hearing aid long before).

She had fallen again 6 days prior to her death; it was a Monday. The staff at her Assisted Living got her to the ER, where my sister met her. Nothing broken but she got banged up; plus, they discovered some pneumonia, most likely because we started having her taken around in her wheelchair a couple of weeks prior – she even warned us herself: “Then I’ll never get any exercise!”. So she was put on antibiotics and returned to her apartment.

I visited her that night. We talked about random things. And – thank the Goddess – as she stood there saying goodbye, she spoke what turned out to be her last cogent words to me that will forever ring golden in my heart and soul: “Thank you for being my friend.”

The next time I saw her was on Wednesday night, when my sister and I struggled to get her into the car to go to the ER, as the AL staff was unable to handle her: She’d become combative, refusing to eat or drink or take any of her meds; she seemed to be checking out on all fronts. They kept her overnight, and my sister returned early the next morning.

I wasn’t able to get to the hospital until 1:30 Friday morning, but was thrilled to be there; in the throes of a beyond-ugly break-up, the timing of her demise had saved me from having to be alone with my ex-partner for an extended trip, thereby enabling me to avoid having to experience even more hell than I was already going through. My sister and I were able to get her into a wonderful Hospice late Friday afternoon, where she died Sunday evening as we chanted, read the Kaddish and excerpts from The Tibetan Book of the Dead, and held a holy and loving space for her from which she could depart this plane.

The other blessing of my mother’s timing was that her life insurance policy (that I’d previously thought of as fairly meager) was a perfect amount that arrived promptly enough to enable me to move into my next home with relative ease.

My little Mama. I completely believe that her spirit was protecting me, looking out for me, even while her dying body-mind was usurped by Dementia. She wasn’t able to do as much as I know she wanted to for me in her final months, but by the grace of the gods, she pulled some strings and helped me get through hell and beyond.

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3 Responses to A Kaddish for my mother, Ruth Leavitt Kadish

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