Living with Holly through the passing of her mother has been quite an experience.

I now realize how easy I had it when my mother passed away several years ago. When the time came, one of my sisters moved in with mom as a full-time caregiver. Another sister took over mom’s financial affairs. And, again, when the time came, all of my sisters together, found a wonderful facility for mom’s last few months. I now understand that they shielded me from a lot of the nitty gritty details of the passing of a 98-year-old loved one. For that I will be eternally grateful. They gave me the gift of remembering mom the way I wanted to. I hope I have paid them back by assuming the responsibilities of being the executor of the estate.

Having lost her brother in 2019 and her father last October, Holly became everything and everyone in dealing with the passing of her mom. She didn’t even have the lessons we might have learned from the passing of my mother.

Frankly, neither of us had any inkling of what was to come after last October. Neither of us understood that Holly would be caring for a person she didn’t know and would have to live for the love she had for the person she remembered. She never told me that she had made a promise to her father on his dying day that she would ensure that her mother would pass there in the home they had shared for the past 55 years. That promise became Holly’s all-consuming mission for the next 10 months. She threw herself into her promise as if her life depended on it.

She studied like a student training for a career in elder care. She spent hours every day on the internet and reading books, becoming an expert in caring for people with severe dementia. I was amazed listening to her on the phone educating the professional caregivers on how handle and protect her mother. 

What made keeping the promise even more difficult was the constant pressure from her mom’s friends and distant relatives to have her placed in a facility. Holly was accused of being irresponsible for keeping her mom at home.

The ultimate irony was that in her last month, her mother didn’t understand that she was even at home. She would call Holly and beg her to come and take her back to her real home. Her dementia had her believing that she had been kidnapped and was being held captive in a place that was specially built to look like her home. Holly would patiently spend 45 minutes on the phone trying to help her mother understand that she really was at home, only to have it all fall apart an hour later.

I am absolutely humbled by the patience and love I have seen in Holly. And, so very proud of her steadfast devotion to a promise.

Sadly, the end came a few hours early as Holly and I waited on Concourse A for our delayed flight to Virginia. But, it was peaceful and it did come in their home, as promised to her father, which was his fervent wish.