Louise McCagg a.k.a. Mom

My mother in her 60s, just prior to being diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.

My mother. She came up to Darwin’s View on March 11. My sister and I figured it would be safer to bring her here for a short visit until things-coronavirus cleared up. Over the weeks and months, that didn’t happen. Carl’s and my bubble included four 24-hour care aides. Three quarantines/long term by my sister. A gradual decline of health in my mother. Many false alarms that death was imminent, that became daily over the course of this past month. At which point, Mom would rally and eat oysters. Whole lemon meringue pies. Ice cream.

She wanted to go home. She should have been home to die. But so many people are dying away from home, away from family. Mom was one of the lucky ones. And she didn’t die on a respirator. After a lot of hard work, grit and determination not to, she died peacefully, naturally, surrounded by those who adored her. Not least me.

I will always be grateful to have been witness to her fight against death and her crossing over to whatever comes next. After nearly 20 years of fighting, she was . . . tired. Her eyes sunken, shadowed. Her mouth hanging open. Her spirit pulsing but preparing and finally prepared to go home.

Home has so many meanings. As she neared the end, staring so hard at things I couldn’t see, speaking to entities I couldn’t hear, I wondered: were they hallucinations? Or friends and family who had already died, there waiting for her, helping her, accompanying her? The Hospice nurse said no one is alone when they die. Really? Or is that just a pretty story?

Near the end, too, she wanted to go home. I want to go home, she said. I don’t think she was talking about New York City anymore.

New York is so changed now. We had to explain to her, time and again, that it wasn’t what she had known. So much is so foreign now.

And so. My mother died on Thanksgiving morning. Appropriately. She loved to bring people together and feast on food and conversation. Below is the obituary my sister and I wrote. Since then, I have successfully kept at a clip of speed, one step ahead of feeling. No longer.


Louise at her last show at A.I.R. gallery. www.louisemccagg.com