Mother

Posted: July 25, 2011 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , ,

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness.”~ St. Paul

The 26th of July is a date that is no more absolute in my mind and in my life than Christmas or my own birthday.

The words within the quote of this blog post are the ones written on the tombstone, of my mother.

My mother died of ovarian cancer over twenty years ago and each time when this date arrives, I am reminded of the sorrow, the loss, and the pain that my entire family and I went through on that day.

Some of you who have been keeping up with this blog already know. Some of you don’t. And for those who do not, I had promised that I would write my story of that horrible day so that you may know and understand. As difficult as it is to think about and experience through memory, here it goes.

She battled with it for about four years. I have memories of doing what I could to help make my mother feel more comfortable by massaging her feet because I have very strong hands. Most of the time, it worked. So the story really begins That Tuesday and Wednesday before, mainly Wednesday.

I was called away from the dinner table for the second evening in a row. Interrupted from eating, and called into the bedroom of my parents, to actually help give my mother a back massage. Everywhere I had massaged, my mother claimed that it hurt. She was weak and unable to breathe. My father called the local doctor and asked for him to have oxygen brought to her. The doctor replied that oxygen could be brought into the home, but it would be brought by the following day OR my mother could go into the hospital where she would receive oxygen almost immediately.

I think that for my father, it was a no brainer decision to take my mother into the hospital. I had a terrible feeling about it, but was glad that she was going to get oxygen so she could breathe. Also, I was inwardly happy that I would be able to finish eating that evening, unlike the night before on Tuesday by the time my arms were so exhausted from massaging my mother’s back, it was time for bed and food was gone.

I pleaded with my father to allow me to return to the dinner table to finish eating. He allowed it and I told my mother “I love you.” She replied, “I love you too, sweetie.” in the most shallow of breath I have ever heard anyone speak. A common whisper would have been louder by comparison in volume.

Wednesday night, my mother was admitted into the hospital. She would never return back home. My sister shouted out the same thing as my mother was being helped from her bed to the car to go to the hospital. Almost at the last possible second of being heard, she shouted out, “I LOVE YOU, MOM!”. That time though, I did not notice a response.

The following days my siblings and I tried to go on “life as usual”. We were used to my mother being in the hospital because of chemotherapy and doctor’s visits and tests and what not. Sunday, the 26th was a day that was out of the ordinary.

My father was not in the pulpit, my siblings and I were not a part of the congregation during Sunday morning. It was just “weird”. Instead, we had gone up to the hospital to see my mother. When we got there, all I could see and hear were the sounds of normal routine hospital life. Machines running and beeping. My mother’s pulse and heart rate was terribly slow, but it was there and that’s all that mattered to me at that point. If it was beeping… she was alive. I feared the long steady drone beep while we were there, I just didn’t want to hear it.

My mother lying in her hospital bed, her eyes closed. I gazed upon her chest to watch it move slowly up and down, up and down. All the indications that I needed as a child to be assured that everything was still okay.

My father called out to my mother using her first name. She jumped. Her eyes opened for about a second, then her eyes looked about the room to see all four of her children standing around her in the room. Her eyes shut again, and it was back to slow breathing and machines beeping.

Some of us started to cry. By “us”, I mean us four children. I started to as well. A nurse came in and saw that I was sobbing and she attempted to console me. She actually removed me from my mother’s hospital room and escorted me down the hall, turning the corner and placed me into an empty hospital room where I could be all by myself to cry as much as I wanted…. telling me it was okay to cry.

When I noticed my family had walked by the room in which I was sitting, I sprung up and chased after them to catch up. My father scolded me for running out, but I explained that I was brought there. He then soon apologized.

We had lunch as a family, then came home. My elder brother having to go to work at Wal-Mart that afternoon. The rest of us, who were too young to be by ourselves were kept company by a woman who had a knack for entertainment that we found dreadfully boring in our youth. The board game, “Rummikub” and the card game, “Phase 10”.

These two games whenever I see it, inwardly reminds me of that day when I lost my mother. Even though now, I do play Phase 10 from time to time with my neighbors.

By the evening of the 26th, my younger brother and I were in a fierce battle of Phase 10 with the woman who was there to watch over us. It was coming down to the wire and the game finally came to a conclusion. I thought deep in my mind, “Great! We’re done with this long boring game, and my brother is coming home and so I don’t have to play this stupid game no more!!”.

I was right. My brother came home from work and before he even had time to set down his keys, the telephone rang. By that time, I had got up from the table and refused to clean up the cards and was heading to the bathroom to use it.

For my older brother, it was like he didn’t miss a step. He walked in, kept walking and headed straight for the telephone. By that time, I was making my way down the hall to do what I had to do. But he hung up as quickly as he answered the telephone and shouted, “Everyone. Dad said ‘let’s go’.. so let’s go!”.

Then he looked at me and kind of snarled a bit for going in the other direction. I told him what I had to do, and he let out a sigh of frustration. So I went and did my business.

My older brother and I will talk about this from time to time and he honestly has no memory of coming down on me for having to use the bathroom, and profusely apologizes to this day.

After that, we got into the car and sped like crazy. My older brother ignoring most STOP signs and only pausing for one red light before reaching the hospital.

I remember staring at my sister while riding in the back seat of the car. Her face a completely blank slate. Her mind had to have been racing, just like mine was. But no emotion she showed. Just sitting there breathing softly to herself.

We flew up to the elevator and getting off, we passed the nurse station and was met up by my father who quickly pulled everyone of us four children into a conference room. We did not find this fair at all because my mother’s room was just two doors away from the corner.

My father stood there, ignoring random questions. “Where is Mom?”, “Is she okay?”, “Where have they taken her?”– and so on.

When everyone was sitting down in the room and the doctor walked in, my father announced that my mother had gone into Heaven.

Nothing but grief, pain, and tears could be felt or heard for several minutes.

I asked my father, “When?”. He told me several minutes had gone by when she had died. I looked down at my digital watch that was on my wrist and counted it off. She had died at 7:24 PM.

The doctor that was standing there suggested that we all go in to see her. Two at a time. But I was so scared. I had never seen anyone that I loved dead before. I didn’t know what to expect, so terrified of what I might see. But the doctor was encouraging and eventually I did go into her room. I went up to her side and touched the bed, accidentally I had touched my mother on the arm. I was expecting her to move. I wanted her to jump just like she had when my father called out her name that morning. But she did not.

Even a few days later when we would view the body at the funeral home, I kept hoping and believing that she would wake up.

When we came home, everyone was in tears. My younger brother and I went to bed, staggering to get ready. Filled with grief. He and I shared a bedroom and even slept in a bunk bed. I remember listening to the sounds of my younger brother on the top bunk crying his heart out, it was unnerving. I had never heard him cry like that before and haven’t since.

My mother’s battle with cancer was finished. She also was no longer with us. I had no idea that young, what it would be like without a mother. She was a stay at home mother because of the special needs of me having a disability. She did everything for me. And I mean, EVERYTHING. It took my older brother almost a year after that to teach me how to tie my own shoes.

For many years, I would always think that “If I only didn’t have to pee, things would have been different…”, however that would take a long hard lesson to know, that was not true.

Personally… I was utterly lost and alone. Everything would change. My father would pick up where my mother had left off, because he felt he needed to. My father would eventually re-marry and I would grow and learn as I would need to.

Still, with each 26th of July that passes, nothing in the world surpasses the moments where I will think about my mother. Even after so many years that this happened, it is like it happened just a few days ago.

I will listen to the song that my mother & I would sing together whenever we would hear it on the radio, and think of her fondly.

I’m still here, mother. I love you.

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