April 1st is Fred's mom's birthday. She turned 83 today. Mum was born in 1934 on an Easter Sunday. She's lived through so many changes in our world. I was so thankful we were able to go up to spend some time with her. This birthday has a different meaning to it for all of us. This will be our last birthday with her, and had no idea how to approach it.
Several weeks ago, before we headed up to PA for our overnight away, Fred's mom spent a few days in the hospital. We weren't sure what was wrong and neither did they. After several days they came back with a diagnosis of cirrhosis. We had no idea how she ended up with that disease, but figured it might be from taking medication for a long period of time. It wasn't a good diagnosis, but with care, we knew she had some good years still ahead of her.
On March 22nd, Fred's dad called him while I was at the gym and told Fred that his mom was back in the hospital with a diagnosis of cancer. They weren't sure what kind or if it had spread. We were hopeful it was just a spot on the film. Maybe just a spot on her liver.
Unfortunately, that wasn't the case. Fred went up there right after he got the call. The next day while his mom was being tested, Fred kept himself busy as they waited for the oncologist to figure out what was going on. We're not sure what kind of cancer it is, where it started, but it turned out it was throughout her body. She had a diagnosis of stage 4 cancer. They said she had about 3-6 months.
She definitely wanted to make it to her birthday. Then Easter will be here, but that wasn't the next thing she was looking forward to. Her next milestone is her anniversary which is April 23rd! It'll be their 52nd Anniversary! Isn't that amazing?
I have never walked through the end of life with someone before. My grandparents all passed away far from me and I didn't attend their funerals. Well, except when I was a 6 yr old little girl and my grandpa passed away. Gosh I loved him. My other 3 grandparents were far away when they passed. My parents are still living, so this is the first time I've faced death like this.
Knowing her birthday was coming up, and not knowing what to do, I asked the people who follow me on Facebook what they would do. What gift do you give to someone who has very little time left in this world? I didn't want to get her something that was ordinary. With the ideas we received, I wanted to share them so if others weren't sure and were in the same boat, they could use this list as well!
Here are 10 gift ideas for families whose loved ones are in hospice or near end of life like Mum is. It's extremely hard to consider, giving gifts at a time like this, but it was still her birthday and we wanted to celebrate her and bless her.
*Have family members write letters
*Donate to their favorite charity
*Give them an indulgence like ice cream
*Plant a small tree or shrub in your yard as a remembrance - their favorite variety
*Gift bag with warm, soft things: blankets, socks, mittens
*Gift them a pedicure/manicure in their home
*Gift them a hair stylist to come into their home
*Photo collage blanket
*Do something they've always wanted to do
*Throw a party to celebrate their life