Sylvia Schwenk - 6 weeks

8 March

She wants to stop the treatment.   
She wants to make it easier for everyone.   
She doesn’t want to prolong her death.   


 
17 March

Mum’s really bad.   
She’s been in bed most of the time.   
She looks like she’s dying.   
She’s in pain.   


You’re going to be shocked when you see her.   
She looks like a dead person.   


 
19 March

“My motor’s slowing down”.   


 
20 March

She fell down during the night.   
She lay there collapsed on the floor.   
She didn’t have the strength to get up off her knees.   


We’re going to take shifts during the night to look after her.   


 
23 March

She’s dizzy and weak.   
She needs help to walk.   


The palliative nurse came today.   
Mum’s going to get a hospital bed and a chair with a commode.   

The clinical nurse is coming tomorrow.   
We want to know what we are going to have to deal with.   
We don’t want her to be in any pain.   


The thought of euthanasia has entered some of our minds.   


 
24 March

Mum and I are having the best time.   
We’re joking and laughing.   
It’s wonderful to be able to help her and look after her.   


6pm
Mum had fish and some beer for dinner.     
It’s the first thing she’s eaten in days   
And the last.   


 
25 March

9am
Mel and I showered Mum this morning.   
I washed her hair and massaged her scalp.   
It was beautiful.   


11am
She’s slipped into a coma.   
I don’t think she’s going to make it through the night.   
You’d better come.   


3.10pm
I missed my plane.  I lost my wallet in the taxi.   
I just sat down on the ground in the airport and cried.   
I didn’t think I was going to see her again.   


8.30pm
She is beautiful.  Her skin’s so soft
I can’t stop touching her.


11pm
She couldn’t stop shivering.
I hopped onto the bed beside her and held her – warming her up.
 
26 March   

She’s so humbling.   
It’s an honour and privilege to look after her.   


The sound of the oxygen machine and her struggle to breathe dominate the room.   


3.30pm   
We all bathed her.   


 
27 March   

3.15am   
It sounds like she’s singing.   

She’s in another place.   

Sometimes she stops breathing.   
She cries when I give her medicine.   
She’s struggling to swallow.   


When you die, hearing is the last sense to be lost.   


12.45pm   
When she dies, it’s important to lay her flat.      
Rigomortis sets in very quickly.   


4.30pm
I knew she was going to die.   
I called everyone into her room to be with her.   


4.45pm
She’s gone.   
We were all there when she stopped breathing.   
It was sad.  It was peaceful.   
It was beautiful.    


She died 6 weeks to the day after being diagnosed with Acute Leukemia.


6pm
The doctor came.     
He certified her death.   
He issued the death certificate and the crematorium certificate.   

10pm   
I’m just going to sit here and look up at her.   
 
28 March   

The funeral director came this morning and took her body away.   

We stood on her rock and waved goodbye.
 
2 April

Proverbs 31 (part)   
New American Standard Version   

Description of a Worthy Woman   

10    An excellent wife who can find?   
    For her worth is far above jewels.   

11    The heart of her husband trusts in her,   
    And he will have no lack of gain.

12    She does him good and not evil    
    All the days of her life.   

20    She extends her hands to the poor;   
    And she stretches out her hands to the needy.   

25    Strength and dignity are her clothing,   
    And she smiles at the future.   

26    She opens her mouth in wisdom,   
    And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.   

27    She looks well to the ways of her household,   
    And does not eat of the bread of idleness.   

28    Her children rise up and bless her;   
    Her husband also, and he praises her saying,   

29    “Many daughters have done nobly,   
    But you excel them all.”   

 

Schwenk, 6 weeks, 2005 (text from installation)