The last thing I did to care for my mom was to instruct doctors to disconnect the ventilator keeping her alive. That was on November 8, 2017. She died Nov. 13 at age 83.

My brother, Mike, and sister-in-law, Trisha, arrived at mom’s from their home in Virginia on Nov. 2 to celebrate Mike’s birthday. We enjoyed three wonderful days together. On Sunday, Nov. 5, the four of us headed to church with Mike driving. We were on Interstate 40 just outside Raleigh, NC when he suddenly lost consciousness. The car left the highway and went into the woods at highway speed, finally crashing into some trees. Trisha died at the scene and mom sustained severe injuries. Mike and I were also injured, though not as seriously.

On Monday, doctors rushed me into surgery to repair a perforated bowel. Later in the day, they took mom into surgery. There she went into cardiac arrest and they put her on the ventilator. They did so because I was so out of it I couldn’t tell them that’s not what she wanted. Finally, by Wednesday, I could explain that I was her healthcare power of attorney and she absolutely did not want to be kept alive artificially if there was no hope of recovery. There was no such hope.

A team of cardiologists diagnosed Mike with ventricular tachycardia and coronary artery disease. I’ve recovered from surgery, a broken rib, friction burns (seat belt), and concussion

I loved my mom, who was also my best friend. I loved being her caregiver, even on those days when she drove me nuts. I miss her more than I can say, and find myself envious of other mothers and daughters I see out together, the daughter holding onto an arm, or reading a menu, or helping her mom into a car.

Although I’m no longer a caregiver, I remain passionate about you — the millions of people in our country who are caring for aging loved ones. I will continue to provide you with information you can use.

As ever, if you have questions related to caregiving, leave them here. I’m happy to try to answer them for you. Thanks for reading.