I’m not a doctor, nurse, etc., but I know of a death-bed confession. My mother, who is 90 years old, was born out of wedlock and given up for adoption. Her biological mother kept the birth a secret until she was on her deathbed. When she was dying she told her son, my mother’s half-brother, that she’d had a little girl. They thought she was delirious, but later learned it was true. When my mother learned of this she cried and said “She never forgot me.”
When my Dad was dying of pancreatic cancer, he told me that he had a son when he was much younger that he had to put up for adoption. My Dad was a pretty aggressive alcoholic in his earlier days so it was likely for the best. But he said he had no idea where he was now and regretted not ever meeting him as an adult.
This may not seem like much, but the last words my mom said to me before she died were ‘Baby, I’m scared’. She wasn’t scared of anything – she was a paramedic for over 20 years and had practically seen it all. That was the most horrifying part about watching her die. In all the times she’d been forced to go to the hospital, I had NEVER heard her say that she was scared.
My grandfather had another family out in Colorado (I live in NY). He had been suffering with Alzheimer’s for a few years, and it was getting bad. Since he was technically my step-grandfather, his family from out west wanted to spend the last years with him. It really saddened my family, and brought all of us down, especially my grandmother, who never married him, but fell in love with him after he helped her through the passing of her husband and raising my mother.
He was an incredible man, but none of that was left in him. He couldn’t hold conversations or really remember much. He had only begun to forget names. It was hard to watch, but in a way, I was grateful that I would get to remember him for the man he was before the disease.
As a freshman in high school, I had to understand that I was saying goodbye to him forever, even though he’d still be out across the country suffering. It was horrible, but it was necessary. In the last few days that he was here, he was very distant. In a way, he was aware of what was going on, but all of the details were fuzzy. He hadn’t said my name in a while, but he was still clever enough to avoid having to say it or address me by name.
The day came for him to leave, and as he got in the car to go to the airport, he turned around and hugged me. I couldn’t say anything, which sucked, because I knew that he actually couldn’t physically say anything. He just looked in my eyes with the last bit of soul he had left.
Then, as he pulled away from the hug, he said in his frail dying voice: “I’ll never forget you, Daniel.”
And I never saw him again.