I think that most of us would probably prefer if death crept up on us slowly, striking suddenly when we were unaware. Being conscious of your inevitable death seems cruel, having it happen suddenly seems so much kinder. My father died suddenly, with little or no warning about five years ago. My mother is in a much different position. She was forced into hospice care about a week ago, as the cruel medical committee responsible for her care simply gave up. There isn’t any recourse to the decision—even though she cannot care for herself any longer, she was pressed into leaving the hospital.

I was blissfully unaware of the fact that there are multiple-year waiting lists for admission into the better class of nursing facilities. Krista explored dozens of options for me, and located only one place where she could have a private room (the minimum standard for a livable arrangement in my opinion). We settled her in there last week just in time for my birthday. Then the onslaught began.

“Are you aware that your condition is terminal? Do you understand what that means?”

About every three hours, some well-meaning social engineer, clergy, or counselor would enter my mothers room and announce the reality of her condition. This went on for days, until we found all the valves to shut off the endless supply of drips landing on her. My mother is a very private person, and does not want any consolation from strangers. Nor does she wish to participate in the social life of the institution she must now reside within. She mostly wants her family to be near. She just wants to be left alone, with her dignity intact. That seems to be nearly impossible.

Day by day her short term memory lapses, while her long term memory perseveres. It hurts to watch her fade out. I’m sad to see her so angry. She’s at peace with most things, but at odds with all these new people in her life’s final stage—and I empathize so much with that. Sometimes silence is much kinder than speech.