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It's been a very strange holiday season at the Wolverton house. The pain of watching a loved one slowly, oh, so slowly die wears on the soul. I wanted to be happy. Celebrate the season. Be joyous and I was...on and off. I didn't write much over the last few weeks because, well, I couldn't write anything positive, so it was best if I wrote nothing at all.

I learned a lot over the last few weeks about family, health care and how we are simply not prepared to see life end. I'll probably roll out a few diaries regarding my family's journey in dealing with Mom's last weeks and her ultimate death. There's a lot to share and explore. Today, I'm going to focus on the catalyst, smoking.

I could rationalize and write that smoking wasn't the sole cause of her death. She had multiple issues. Diabetes certainly complicated her situation. The COPD made it almost impossible for her to exercise. Dieting put her in the hospital several times because it made her weak, anemic and malnourished. Both doctors and nurses told us what they thought we anted to hear instead of the reality of her health status. The last 4 months have been a revolving door of hospital to cardiac rehab, to hospital to skilled nursing home to hospital to rehab again to hospital and so on until she died. I could rationalize it, but there, the cause of death on her death certificate states her death was clearly tobacco related. The Lung Cancer, arteriosclerotic vascular disease and COPD were exacerbated by tobacco addiction. Then, one morning she didn't wake up. There was a pulmonary embolism and she's gone.

Death isn't positive, but in this case; letting my mother-in-law go was the best thing we could do. Sticking a feeding tube into her against her wishes was wrong as was the idea of intubating her again. In a selfless act, my husband's mother kindly wrote out her health care directives in a living will. Her health care providers actually followed them.

Once again, the family gathered in Northern Florida to celebrate a life and mourn a death that came too soon. There was a short, but pointed discussion as to whether it was "ok" to smoke in the house or on the porch. Mr. Wolverton doesn't like confrontation. He doesn't like arguing with his brothers or their wives, but he did that day. There is to be no smoking in the house or on the porch. To him, it's a matter of respect. Mom quit smoking last June. We will continue to respect that decision. Her death changes nothing. There's no smoking in the house. ...or on the porch. He was adamant.

Death doesn't usually bring out the best in family relations, but this confrontation went better than expected. One brother looked at the other and said. "He's right, 20 years from now, we'll be in that bed, just like Mom." I went into the house and cried. I didn't want them to see how upset I was, so I found a quiet place in the house and grieved it out.

Was I mourning my second mother? Or, was I mourning the likelihood that I would be mourning the loss of my husband's brothers and wives prematurely? Was I crying because my BIL so matter of factly accepted his smoking and what the future of smoking would bring? I'm not sure. I feel this way every time a loved dies of tobacco addiction. It's happened too many times. There's nothing I can do but cry. All the "doing" is on the part of the tobacco addicted.

It's been over a month and our lives have gone on. We put together a lovely service. We've laid her to rest. We miss Mom. I wish there was more that I could have done.

RIP Mom, maybe someone will read this and try and GUS it out.

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