My Mother’s Death

My mother, Sara Krouse, passed away this week at the age of 94. She was a smart woman, my mentor, who played a pivotal role in the founding and naming of Arkansas Flag and Banner. She was born during an era when sacrifice was part of life and a badge of honor. My father, Edwin Krouse, was a WWII vet and purple heart recipient, who was shot down over Germany and remained a POW for 2 years before the war ended and he was reunited with my mom. Though they had to get reacquainted, their marriage lasted for 62 years.

I want to share what I learned in the last 6 weeks, as mother lived and died, in a hospital bed, in my den. For all you baby boomers who are dealing with aging parents, I hope you will find this information comforting.  I can tell you the experience was not what I feared or expected.

Mother was residing at Woodland Heights, an upscale, assisted living facility, in Little Rock, AR, when her health took a turn for the worse. We found Woodland Heights care to be subpar. It’s easy for me recognize poor management and poor processes. There was lots of excuse making, lots of employee turnover and an un-cooperative nursing staff, to say the least.

My anxieties and sleeplessness grew as I felt more and more helpless. Husband, Grady McCoy, who… we’ll now refer to as Saint Grady, suggested bringing her home to our house. This sounds like a bad dream come true: seeing your mother nude, wiping your mother’s mouth and (the dreaded) changing your mother’s diaper. But for some reason, when St. Grady suggested it, along with the dread, came a sense of peace, too. On Dec. 31st, 2017, New Year’s Eve, with the help of Arkansas Hospice, we moved mom into our den.

First of all, my mother’s hands, face and feet looked old, but her body, I guess shielded from wind and weather, was beautiful. I had no idea women’s bodies are beautiful until the day they die. And changing her diaper was no more than changing a baby’s diaper.

All the end-of-life fears I had harbored in the back of mind, for 10 years, were unwarranted. And that is the gift I would like to give to my readers.  As your parents age, try not to worry about the end of life episode, it may not be what you’re thinking.

Because I was lucky enough to be able to afford a care giver, I went to work during the day, but in the evening, it was just me and St. Grady caring for my mother.

It was very much akin to taking care of a baby.  As the saying goes, “Once a man, twice a child.” Those that are dying come to you in a quiet way, and as they progress, so do you. It is a learning process, that for us, came in manageable bite sizes. We attended her and watched as each day she stepped a little more out of this world and into the next. That final step, is just that…a final step. We were ready because we had witnessed the journey. It was a peaceful transition. Godspeed Mother.

To hear this touching account from Kerry, click here. She shared her experience and feelings live on her radio show Up In Your Business with Kerry McCoy the day after her mother passed away. It was broadcast on our Facebook Live feed.

12 thoughts on “My Mother’s Death

  1. Kerry, I commend you for your love given to your Mother in her final hours. I know it was both something you will cherish and never forget. You can be at peace. Thank you for giving us the gift of this experience. You have our prayers and love. Karen and Sam Rutherford

  2. Beautiful Kerry. Thank you. I wish I had done that with my Gammy. I just didn’t have the energy at the time.

  3. I went through this with my parents. Actually taking care of them wasn’t a chore. I enjoyed the last couple of years with my mother especially. Like you my mother could afford some in house caregivers. They were all a blessing. Hopefully you will look back and never have a regret.

  4. I am sorry over your loss Kerry. She seemed to have an exciting life. It is tough losing Mom’s.

    My sympathy to you.

    Larry

  5. Kerry, totally agree and commend you and St. Grady. My mother passed at 88 in June 2003 in one of our bedrooms as did my mother in-law in the same bedroom at 89 in 2016. It wasn’t easy but it wasn’t hard either and my wife and I value that precious time we were able to spend with each of them.

  6. So very happy you and St. Grady could and wanted to do this and for all of the happiness and comfort it brought you all. Your words are wonderful teaching for all of us. Thank you, Kerry and Grady.

  7. This was the way my Mom left, a few months after Daddy died. Godspeed to her and hugs for you and Grady. It is kind of hard, to be an Orphan; No matter your age!!!! Maybe they are talking about Us, and how our bad asses, drove them crazy?? Cheers to her transition!!!!!?

  8. Kerry, what a lovely end you and Grady gave to your mother—a final gift that seems was a gift to both her and to you. I will miss Sara at all the gatherings, but I am glad to have known her. You are a good daughter, and we all know how proud she was of you and all you have accomplished. Thanks for showing us all how it should be done!

  9. Kerry, thank you so very much for sharing your heart felt experience of the dying and death of your lovely mother. I am so happy you were able to have that very special time with her. Your message couldn’t have come at a better time in my life. I met with hospice today and my mother will start her journey with their wonderful care and support. As you know my Mom has Alzheimer’s and she is unable to make any decisions for herself and today I had to make some mighty big decisions for her end of life. It was tough but the kind nurse said to me today “ What a truly gift of love you gave to your Mom today” which also happened to be Valentine’s Day . So it begins?

  10. Kerry, thank you so very much for sharing your heart felt experience of the dying and death of your lovely mother. I am so happy you were able to have that very special time with her. Your message couldn’t have come at a better time in my life. I met with hospice today and my mother will start her journey with their wonderful care and support. As you know my Mom has Alzheimer’s and she is unable to make any decisions for herself and today I had to make some mighty big decisions for her end of life. It was tough but the kind nurse said to me today “ What a truly gift of love you gave to your Mom today” which also happened to be Valentine’s Day . So it begins?

  11. Kerry, what a tribute to your mother! I always enjoyed their visits at Arkansas Flag & Banner. Your dad always had a story. Your mother was always so gracious and cordial. And what an example of unconditional love on yours and “St. Grad’s” part! Wow! I commend you both for the task you took on of caring for your mother so unselfishly. The majority of our culture in this country chooses to look the other way when it comes to caring for our elderly…much less in recognizing their contributions. Thank you for being willing to be so transparent. Thanks for sharing! You and your families are in my prayers.

  12. Kerry, thanks for sharing this. My mom’s death 20 years ago was one of the most Holy experiences of my life. I shall always remember your mom and her friendship with my mother in love. The adventures of Sally and Em wee always a delight to hear. Blessings on you and yours.

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