“My mother was fiercely independent. A former Army nurse who served in the Korean War and a woman who raised 6 children and countless pets of all kinds (she did draw the line at rodents) while balancing a nursing career during an era when most women didn’t work outside the home, Vicki almost defined the word ‘independence.’
With the right support, Mom actually became more independent than before. She continued to live for another year on her own, and then once she moved in with my sister, she lived for another year-and-half. Add that up – she lived for two-and-half more years after getting a prognosis of six months or less. It took a team, and the support she received from everyone involved, especially my sister, gave her opportunities she never would have had alone.
And during those two-and-half years she was completely off the roller coaster of health care crises. While previously she had had two or more hospitalizations a year, she went 2 ½ years without any emergency room visits or even one hospitalization. Yes, she declined, but she declined on her terms, with a spark in her eyes and in her life.
And so when I hear someone saying ‘I’m independent, I can do it on my own,’ I chuckle, remember my mom and encourage them to learn what Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer in the animated holiday classic learned from his elf-friend Hermey: “Let’s be independent together.”