I got home on Wednesday from an emergency trip to Wisconsin that started last Friday. On Saturday, with my little bro Jim and I with her, my mom quietly passed. She was at Villa Loretto, a nursing home in Mt. Calvary, Wisconsin and I wish we had found that place back in April when mom's decline began. As it was, she was there for 3 and a half months, probably the best ones she had. She was happy and more importantly VERY well cared for, unlike her previous home. The sisters and staff at VL were beyond sainthood as far as I was concerned. They took incredibly compassionate and medically competent care of mom those last few months. And unlike other homes, the staff was genuinely concerned and caring, not just people doing a job.
I spent the night with mom Friday night after I arrived from Oregon. The night staff not only brought me homemade pizza, but constantly checked on both mom and I, making sure I had anything I needed, and speaking frankly about the passing process as it was unfolding. I know that Frank must have been mom's fave, because he was Sicilian, and mom HATED Sicily with a passion. Being from Trieste, in far NE Italy, as far as she was concerned, anything from Rome south should have been given away to whatever country wanted it after the war. But Frank said that they got on just fine, with mom teasing him mercilessly about his heritage.
All during the morning and early afternoon hours on Saturday, the staff constantly stopped by, bring Jim and I breakfast, carafe after carafe of coffee, lunch, whatever we needed. The nurses checked on mom every few minutes, and we all knew it was nearly over. The sisters came and prayed quick little prayers. At 1:45, I noticed a big change in her breathing, and went and got the nurses. A few minutes later, it was over, quietly and peacefully. The staff and nurses cried right along with Jim and I. She had made a good impression on everyone there, and it saddened everyone to lose her. Two aides came in and washed her and dressed her in a clean nightgown with dignity and respect. Hours later, little brother Stan finally arrived from Denver, and we returned to let him say his goodbyes.
Moments after her passing, a stout little Jamaican sister in full habit quietly came in and stood next to mom's bed. She said a long, silent prayer, then gently kissed mom on the forehead. She then came over and gave me a warm, strong hug and said comforting words. All of the staff that was there came in and gave Jim and I hugs and comforting words. I don't go to a lot of nursing homes, so I don't know how to compare them, but honestly, there was just something so very special about Villa Loretto, from the first time Jim and I walked in back in July, when mom was in the hospital and there was no way she was going back to her previous home. The staff really liked working there, the floors were so clean you could eat off of them, the residents seemed to be very happy and well attended and most importantly to me, there was no 'nursing home smell'. And now we are secure in knowing that we chose well and that mom's last days were the best she'd had in a long, long time
Clelia Dolores Maly
21 September 1934 - 16 November 2013
Home with God and dad at last, dancing the night away