The day after my mother turned 100, we moved her out of assisted living in Georgia and into our home in Costa Rica. Obviously this was a huge undertaking and one I feel couldn’t have been possible without Renee Hodnett. Renee accompanied us on the flight to Costa Rica and lived with mom, my husband and I for the 6 month remainder of mom’s life.
Renee’s physical, emotional, spiritual and artistic support of my mother and the whole family was absolutely invaluable. She spent her days sharing in the care of mom’s physical needs, cooking nutritious and delicious meals and snacks for all and watching over my mom. She spent hours every day sitting with mom, her calm and constant presence instilling a sense of safety and security for mom. Renee read, painted, sang and talked to mom. An incredible added bonus is the fact that Renee is a gifted photographer. She documented the interactions between mom and all of her children and grandchildren as they came to visit her in Costa Rica.
Renee’s photographic documentation of my mother’s last 6 months is precious to our whole family. Renee and I sang duets to mom (she has a beautiful singing voice). She even induced mom, who was a lifelong artist but who hadn’t picked up a paintbrush in at least 5 years, to join her in once again painting with watercolors just three weeks before she died.
Mom’s last 6 months were filled with family, good food, beautiful sunsets, nature, art, music and love. Renee was an irreplaceable part of our harmonious family. As mom began failing, Renee’s knowledge and training were invaluable as she guided and supported our decisions about her care. I depended on her calm and steady support. We shared the vigil as mom was dying, one or the other of us always at her bedside. Renee was constantly ready in the background, careful to support but never to place herself between my mother and myself. After mom died, we tenderly bathed her body together and stayed by her side. Renee assisted us in coordinating with the funeral homes and having her body shipped back to the Georgia -no small task considering she died in a foreign country. Renee even offered to escort her body back to the US.
There is nothing about my mother’s end of life that I would have done any differently. I am so grateful to have had this precious time with her and to have absolutely no regrets. I couldn’t have provided this for my mother if it hadn’t been for Renee. I truly could not recommend Renee more highly. She supported not only mom, but my husband and I as well, truly fulfilling the role of doula for our whole family throughout the entire process.