Friday, August 04, 2006
Fifteen years ago today!
This has been a pivotal year for me. My daughter turned twenty; my father’s been gone twenty years. I turned fifty, and my mother has been deceased fifteen years today.
Mom having suffered an arduous passing at sixty six should have lived longer. Fear of being overweight, on a five foot tall stature, mom took up smoking at thirty years old. What was she thinking? It was the fifties, and that’s what women believed was done to stay fashionable slim. Did she stay thin? No she didn’t, although never obese, she was always unhappy about even a minimal weight gain. So when the middle age spread arrived, she was already fully addicted to the almighty cigarette.
May 3, 1991 at sixty six years old she had a stroke, induced by a brain tumor. The tumor was secondary to the primary Carcinoma lung cancer. Hours on end were spent in the hospital, policing moms care. She suffered not only the heat of that summer, but also the cancer ravaging her body. It was a grueling stint for all of us who loved her.
Nights do seem to be the hardest for the cancer sufferer. Infrequent room visits by nurses can leave patients distressed and alone for hours. Didn’t take long for us to catch onto the nightly routine in palliative care, we’d only leave for small intervals when competent caring nurses were on duty. Like any job, there are those less efficient employees who shirk their responsibilities. We had no intention of letting our mom be a victim of a less than stellar care. Two weeks previous to her demise, my brother and I slept in her room every night.
Mom took comfort in hearing her children converse by her bed. She’d awaken every so often; look over with a half smile, contented to know we were still there. Along with our voices she loved the lull of the television too. Even though mom was aphasic and unable to speak, nurses knew her disdain when they attempted to flick off her television in the middle of the night. Communication consisted of only body language during those last months.
Mom was never shy discussing death. She didn’t want her life prolonged unnecessary with chemo treatments. A morphine drip was hooked up making her furious. You could read the anger in her face. I had to assure her it wasn’t chemo. I explained with love, that we wouldn’t betray her wishes.Trusting me, she relaxed. Doctors never offered Chemo for her late stage of cancer.
The morning mom passed, my brother and I sat on opposite sides of the bed holding her hands. As hot as a freshly brewed cup of coffee, we constantly released her hands every few minutes. The extensive body heat was rather shocking. Eventually her body began shutting down at her feet. My brother narrated the passing; reiterating each detail as it occurred until her last breath. When he announced she was gone. Her spirit is hovered above us. It was the oddest most spiritual thing. I don’t even think he remembers his narration.
We spent an hour alone in the room with her. Together we did her hair and makeup. A very proud woman, a hairdresser for forty three years, she hated people to see her without her hair done. It may seem superficial to some, but long before she died we knew her wishes. Fifteen years ago today my then thirty year old brother and I became adult orphans