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I Guarantee You Aren't Ready

Dave Wilber


On the morning of May 18th, 2014, I awoke to find my mom on the floor. She was unconscious. She had a pulse and she was breathing. She was face down next to her bed. From what I could figure she had tried to get out of bed on her own and passed out. I rolled her onto her back and tried to get some kind of response. None. At all.


I knew this was coming. I didn't know how or when, but I somehow I knew. Signs? Plenty of them. But still, there are things that just don't put themselves on the calendar. And as much as I had prepared myself for this moment, nothing could have really prepared me to find her in this condition.


My mom was unconscious. Her oxygen worn 24/7 for the last few months on full force. In preparation for this moment, she and I had filled out what is called a MOST form. MOST stands for Medical Orders for Standards of Treatment. Basically my mom's wishes clearly spelled out in case she became unresponsive. Do you have one of these? Does your nearest medical facility have one on file for you? Probably not. That's why I'm writing this.


Mom's orders were clear, no lifesaving measures to be taken. I wasn't to call 911. She wasn't going to the hospital. Keep her oxygen on and keep her comfortable. It's not like you see on TV. It was a clear and somber moment. And there was nothing to do but call my older brother to come be with us and hold her hand. Would she be like this for long? No way to tell. But my guess was that life was leaving her body with every labored breath. As her lungs began to rattle, it was more than clear.


My mom and I had talked about this moment. A lot. She was pretty gnarly with me about obeying her wishes. And I was expected to hold that standard. But damn, this is my mom. Not some movie here. Real life. And I held the standard as I held her hand. No treatment. We were able to get her back onto her bed and seemingly more comfortable. And after about two hours, just after noon, her breathing stopped and her heart with it. Not before her lips and fingers turned an awful color of blue. Nothing. And I mean nothing could have prepared me for what I experienced on the morning of May 18th. Despite all the knowing that this event was going to happen, the moment was purely without comprehension. The solace in all of this is no more suffering for Donna Wilber. A big ordeal now over. And an even bigger ordeal begins for me as I clean up the admin stuff from 83 years of wonderful life and 40 years in the same home.


I wanna tell you that I appreciate you reading all the words I've written about my mom and this whole thing. Sure, easier to write about grass and stuff and probably better for your entertainment. But not better for ALL of us. Writing is my radical therapy so it's been necessary for me. And I've gotten so much good feedback and some many amazing stories from so many people.


Here's my message. Get prepared. Do it. Here are some things that just have to be done. It doesn't matter. Because I guarantee you aren't ready. 


Doesn't matter how young you are, get a Will together. What I learned recently about the laws around what happens if you don't have one is absolutely frightening. Especially if there are loved ones of any kind in your life (including your dog or cat or pet monkey) I'm not kidding.


Doesn't matter how healthy you are, get life insured. The cost of a simple cremation and no memorial services for my mom, $5,000. Bare bones. My mom and I handled her after death wishes and the mortuary had a check. But we knew this was coming. And she had put by the money. You probably won't.


Doesn't matter how cool you think your friends and family are or how much they get along, when you go, you want them not to have to deal with hard stuff. Make sure there are instructions. Because dollars to doughnuts, there will be an argument about a painting or an Xbox or some dumb shit and you don't want that to happen.


Doesn't matter if you don't want to be a hassle to a friend or a loved one, tell someone where your wishes are kept. They need to know. And if you want to tell them where your porn is stashed or whatever you don't want your "other" loved ones to find, that's probably a good thing.


Doesn't matter if you don't want to think about it, make sure you have documents that can speak for you if you can't. Be it your state's MOST form, a Living Will or whatever instrument is right, do it. Because again, I can't imagine what would have went down had I not had clear instructions for my mom's care. She might still have a machine breathing for her with some just out of med school Doc thinking she could save my mom's life with yet another drug and nothing I could do.


Now...that's for you and your personal life. Look at the above stuff and think about your work. If something happens to you (forbid that it does) does anyone at work really know what to do or how to find the important stuff (or the stuff you don't want found)?


Look, I'm not trying to be morbid here. But I had half a year to help prepare for the passing of my mom and 13 weeks of very close caregiving contact and I'm still about half in the dark about tons of stuff that she and I talked about. I guarantee that most of you reading this aren't ready. At all. 


So this is the wisdom. Please use it. I appreciate you reading about my world, but if I didn't pass this along, I'd be doing you a huge disservice as a Turfhead. 




In loving memory of the greatest mom a kid could ever have. May you be having a Margarita somewhere cool and amazing and may you be helping someone as it was your great love to do.


Donna Wilber

Born: April, 1931

Died: May, 2014






Recommended Comments

Guest Jon Scott


Dave, I am sorry to be so late in extending my condolences. For some reason I don't get notices of your Blog. Your words hit home with me. My father passed this way some years ago and my Mom is now 84. I second every word you wrote. You are still my hero.

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Guest matthew petty


Wise word my friend. Hard to do, and think about. But wise.peace unto you and yours.

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Prayers and thoughts are with you and your family Dave. She is in a better place. It was most certainly very comforting to her that you were around in your final weeks.

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Thanks for sharing Dave and reaching out to us. Gives greater perspective of who we truly are and what makes us tick. Very difficult circumstances, you've made your Mom proud!

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Guest Dan Anderson


Great share Dave, I am so sorry for your loss but you seem to have a good handle on it. I wish you the best in the coming months as you progress and adjust to having your mom go on. Surely you'll see her again and she'll appreciate your dedication to her and her memory. Prayers to you and yours.

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Guest John Jorgensen



My sincerest condolences to you and your family. I appreciate the insight you have given me through your writing about what your mother has meant to you and her amazing contribution to humanity. My prayers are with you....

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Guest di and cheryl


we sure do miss your mom... thank you so much for loving her as much as you did and for letting us in on the last week or so...... still breaks our heart on a daily basis.....


damn stubborn wonderful woman that she was.....

we think of you and her both all the time....


and yes, we have wills, we have poas and medical directives and our attrorneys are our good friends and have filed copies with the state.... vitally important, you are so right about that.....


bless you for who you are, the man your mom raised... she would, and is, very proud of you...


she reminded me, as i sat weeping on the beach, that she is free and no longer in pain... that the tremendous love she had for so many has been rewoven into the web that holds us all in place..... and that she is always watching and always a part of us.....


it just makes me sad that she is physically no longer with us....

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Guest Jessie Creencia,CGCS


My condolenses Dave, I lost my my over 20 yrs ago from colon cancer. The hard part was that we saw her suffer for 6mo while in a coma. I feel your pain. RIP Donna Wilbur.

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