"A few days after I turned in my last column I boarded a plane, destined for a southern city, to visit my ailing mom and give my dad a break for a few days. Things did not go as expected.
When I arrived I was surprised at the change since I had last seen her. Dad had prepared me, but I think there is little you can do to prepare someone for the slow deterioration of one who is so dearly loved. Mom had been fighting a cold and her breathing was a little labored. As the day wore on I became concerned as her breathing became more shallow and I convinced Dad that we should take her to the emergency room and just get her checked.
I fully expected to be sent home with the news that she had a bad cold or a little bronchitis. I was not prepared to hear the words, “she is unlikely to live through the night,” delivered by a young, overworked ER doctor who, only after he uttered them, seemed to realize the effect they might have.
A staph infection and pneumonia were going to claim my mom’s life."