I told Mom not to go anywhere last Sunday, that I had to go to Boston for business, and that I would see her again on Saturday.
She hung in there for me.
There's no question - Mom is dying. She hadn't eaten since I left for Boston.
I paid a visit Saturday. My brother and sister-in-law were there too. It seems like Mom knew we were there for her, but it wasn't obvious. She had that sort of glazed look in her eyes, that is when they were open; life was there, but not cognizable.
I held her hand Saturday, stroked her head, massaged her shoulders - I think it was comforting to her. It was for me.
I look back on the last two years since my Dad died. Mom's dementia became noticeable to my dad some 10 years ago, and he didn't really acknowledge it until the last two years of his life. He tried to provide, but of course, the disease process becomes more than one person can manage. It requires a team.
I promised Dad that I would ensure Mom got the best care and treatment possible and I think that mission was accomplished. The facility where we placed Mom has been fantastic; more than adequate staffing, great engagement exercises, really good food. Mom made friends there - she always was pleasant to others, even when she was slipping a snide comment (dementia lacks an oral filter - what is thought is what is said!).
She had a team.
My resolve as Mom's attorney in fact and trustee was to check on her at least twice a week - thankfully I had Forty One Mike to assist in that mission otherwise it would not have been possible.
My wife was supportive. My brother and sisters helped as they could, particularly my brother and his wife since they were geographically closer than anyone else.
I’ve been with mom as much as physically possible for the past two years. I’ve spent good, quality time with her. Have taken her for walks, napped with her hand in mine outside under the cabana at her facility, have shared laughs, embarrassed at some of her off-color comments (dementia…), and have answered patiently the same repeated questions without frustration.
Two weeks ago there was sudden decompensation in her physical health. The facility sent her to the hospital and the physicians there sent her back, and requested hospice evaluation.
I knew what that meant.
Since then the degradation in her health has been rapid.
I have a friend who's an injured worker; a double amputee. One amputation was necessitated by a staph infection. The doctors told him it was possible that the infection would return despite the amputation.
But another surgery failed to remove it all. Round three is under strategic review. His family, I'm sure, is fatigued by all this. His physicians are likely frustrated they can't resolve his infection.
And yet, he carries on, one of those numbers we study at industry conferences, but a face most of us won't know.
It took a team to resolve my friend's original injuries and it'll take a team to carry him through this most current ordeal.
I have another friend who consults employers about their work comp situations. He's brutally honest with his opinion, and some are easily offended by his style.
He helps his employer clients save money on their work comp policies by ensuring that their employees are promptly and efficiently provided benefits, even if the carrier disputes liability, because he knows that the faster a claim is extinguished, the faster the employee returns to work and the lower the employer's premium.
He takes me to task every once in a while. Sometimes I think he's right. Other times I don't. We agree to disagree and I value his input because he helps keep me honest.
The other day he ranted about workers' compensation conferences.
"Everyone is wasting their time talking and writing about the BS that they think affects work comp," he said. "It’s always about the ‘pigs at the trough’ whining about how they aren’t getting their fair share.
"When does someone care about an injured worker or the cost to an employer because handling the case was so f'd up?" He complained that injured workers are ignored at these conferences.
He doesn't appreciate that team members collaborate at these conferences. He doesn't realize he's part of that team.
I think about my mom and how, over a good portion of her 91 years, she has put up with my shenanigans.
I think about my amputee friend, and how he has put up with workers' compensation shenanigans.
And I think about my consultant friend, who has been through family death, has been on the receiving end of the work comp gauntlet, and strives to keep his employer-client's workers from succumbing to industry shenanigans.
We think ALL of it is important.
What's important is the legacy. My legacy, your legacy, the legacy of work comp. We are all part of the team, and each team member has a legacy, and each legacy becomes part of the collective legacy.
And at the end of it all is regrets, or lack of.
If you live your life with the goal of having no regrets, then you will have no regrets.
If every one of us strives for that goal, work comp will leave a lasting, positive, legacy.