Walking away is not an option... dialogue must prevail.

"A good listener tries to understand what the other person is saying. In the end he may disagree sharply, but because he disagrees, he wants to know exactly what it is he is disagreeing with."
- Kenneth A. Wells

"I do not want the peace that passeth understanding. I want the understanding which bringeth peace."
- Helen Keller

Sunday, December 21, 2008

for Mom


Today is my Mother's birthday...

This was the last post I managed to put up before she passed almost two years ago.

I thought I'd share it again.




It's quite strange really...

My mother lies dying and she fights for every second. People walk by her room, stop to ask how she is... come to stand by her... hold her hand... and I find myself comforting them. My aunt, my mother's friend, my great aunt who sees two of her sisters in their dying moments when she looks upon her niece lying on that bed, weighing less than 50 pounds. It's my place in the world, it's who I am. They wonder what is holding her back. 'That's between her and God' I say. 'She'll tell him when it's time to go.'

Mom worked for the Franciscan monks for thirty years, keeping their books ( I have NOT inherited her passion for book keeping, I mean, I can do it, but YUCK!), running one of the monasteries, managing the staff... my mother is and always has been a driver. And she won't change now.

We're fortunate. My mother has been taken in by people who nurture and love her, and care for her as if she were their own mother. The Franciscans have an infirmary and she has been in their care for months since her chemotherapy. Secular people are never admitted there as patients, but she is one of them and receives the best there is. I see the sadness in their eyes as she slips away, and I hug them or pat them on the back, thanking them for their compassion, comforting them in their own grief. They love my mother, and I love them.

The janitor comes in every once in a while and checks on her. He likes my mother; she always has a smile or a kind word for Robert. He has cognitive challenges, but is a good soul and works hard and my mother admires that... so do I. He's come in and checked on her twice this morning, so far...

People here worry about me, but I feel my mother's strength as it leaves her and flows to me, slowly. Her heart is still strong. Like Robert said to me this morning: 'she has a good heart'. Yes she does, in more ways then one.

She gave me life some 37 years ago, and continues to nourish me even though the umbilical chord has been cut for a long time, even though I married (ok, so that didn't work out so well), moved out and now support myself and my daughter. I've been stronger now than I ever have been. Don't get me wrong, I'm tired. I don't get much sleep. I'm not Superwoman. But my mother gives me strength.

I catch people looking at me, the nurse's aids in particular... they really fret over me. And I appreciate their kindness and concern. Some of them have been through this with their own mothers, fathers, one has lost her husband to cancer. They have shared this with me and it is difficult for them... to relive it all.

I've gotten to know the staff very well. I eat pretty much all my meals with them, I assist them in caring for my mother, and I touch or hug them a lot.

One of them, Jackie (ironically my mother's name is Jacqueline) who also has just one child, a girl, walks by the room around meal times on her shift and 'reminds' me to go down and get something to eat. She mothers me like I'm her own daughter and I've seen a tear or two in her eyes when she comes in and kisses mom softly. I hug and kiss her all the time.

Robert sighting number 3....

And then there's Barbara, she has the sweetest smile. She loves it when Mom winks at her. When she moves Mom on the bed, Barbara snuggles up to Mom while holding her. She sat with Mom trying to get her to eat strawberry ice cream... every bite was a victory. She has the day off tomorrow and came in to kiss Mom and tell her she'd be back on Wednesday. I know she's afraid she won't get to see Mom open her eyes again. She left the room on the verge of tears, trying to hide it from me, but I watch closely. And I gave her the space she needed.

Denise brought Mom her new faithful friend last week, Pepe the colourful stuffed parrot and he's always on Mom's bed. poor thing had the call button clipped to his wing. I've taken over call button duties, I felt sorry for Pepe. She has always let Mom move at her own pace (Denise has a strong self -preservation instinct), even when it would take Mom 45 minutes to decide to take her medication. and then another 15 minutes to actually take it.

I sit in Mom's room, with my laptop on my lap (which can't find a wireless connection) on a big chair at the foot of her bed, writing this. This is where I've been sleeping the past few nights. In a room with white walls, a nice sized window, black and white checker floors ( I haven't counted the tiles.... yet...), knick knacks on the counter and pictures and cards on the dresser. I hear classical music in the hall in the morning and mid-afternoon, people walking by, the man in the room across the hall listening to the news (loudly), bits of conversations, life...

Robert sighting number 4...

Alain, one of the nurses here had a room made up for me so I could have a proper bed to sleep in... I never do sleep there, I just go into that room.. the special room... to call a family member or a friend to give them news so I won't disturb Mom. My mother really is sweet on him. She holds his hand tightly and winks at him when he comes to see her. He has come in from home in the middle of the night to give Mom her morphine injections because only a nurse is allowed to administer it in that form. I offered him the 'special room' he had readied for me, he smiled.

It seems my mother has a few sweethearts here. She calls François, a nurse's aid who I've often caught staring at me with concern in his eyes, 'mon chéri'. I've watched the tenderness he shows my mother, the way he handles her like fine china and makes certain things are done right, leaving instructions for the night shift and checking with me to make sure everything is ok. I've watched him tuck her in and kiss her cheek. he has great respect for the dying, and remembers that they have the right to dignity no matter how frail they are. He's a good man.

There's Nicholas, I think he's her favorite. He has kind eyes, is quite shy and felt awful when mom was in pain as he had to remove a bandage. It's sticky and removing it causes her pain. I actually offered to do it for him, but he said no. And did it with such gentleness, taking as much time as he needed even though he has so many other things to do and so many patients to care for.

So many people here comment on how strong-willed my mother is. But those who have gotten to know her understand. They tell me 'm like her, which would have infuriated me to no end a short time ago, you can't put two women like us in a room and expect calm waters. But I now see the good about it. And Mom slowly lets me become her voice... very slowly.

Mom's friend, father George Albert comes to see her every evening, like clockwork at 8:30. It's a ritual they started when she was first admitted here. Now, if she's sleeping, which she has been doing a lot of these days, he just says hello, blesses her and wishes me a good night.

Father Ferdinand, my new main squeeze, had his 88th birthday the week before Christmas. He stops off to say hello every evening on his way to his bath. And at lunch time I go up to him in the main dining room and kiss his cheek. Yup, I'm sweet on him.

I am fortunate to be surrounded by such wonderful people as the end of my mother's life draws near, people that have known my mother for years, decades even, and people that in a few short months have come to mean so much to her and to me.

Have I mentioned I've been blessed more times in the past few weeks than in my whole lifetime?

I miss my girl. I trust that someday she will understand why I have spent so much time far from her. She has my mother's spirit; I'm going to have my hands full.

A dear friend told me: 'you don't have to write it or post it. If it makes things harder then don't. But sometimes it helps to just write it down.' (-not an exact quote but it stuck in my head). Thanks bro. Your words mean the world to me. You are family.
To my dear friends who have been thinking of me these past few days... I love you.
Thank you.

The journey I've been on has been the most difficult I've ever faced, and it will only get harder. I draw my strength from mom, my girl, my family and my friends.

I love you all more than my luggage!
Hugs, smooches and gropes!


Bonne Fête Maman... tu me manques.

43 comments:

Sarah's Blogtastic Adventures said...

That was beautiful. God damn Billy Joel and that song, gets me everytime. Your Mom seemed like a wonderful strong woman. Stay strong. : )

doggybloggy said...

beautiful post - thanks for sharing - happy birthday - forver!

Anndi said...

Sarah: Thank you, I had wonderful inspiration. I'm trying.

Anndi said...

DB: Thanks buddy...

Charles Gramlich said...

Lovely post. hard to read for me right now, since my mom is growing feeble herself.

Dana said...

Happy Birthday to your Mom!

Thoughts are with you and your family on this very special day.

Travis Erwin said...

Great post. She sounds like an inspirational woman. And I'm honored to share her birth date.

Karen said...

Happy Birthday to your Mom. What a beautiful photo and beautiful post.

Bee said...

That was absolutely beautiful. Thanks for sharing it with us.

:o)

Travis said...

I'm glad you shared that again. And I hope you and Alice are doing ok today.

Hugs.

Akelamalu said...

I didn't see this the first time round Andi so thankyou for sharing it again. It touched my heart honey as I watched my own dear mother slip away after battling cancer. I'm sure your mother is having a wonderful birthday where she is honey. xx

Errant said...

that was very nice. It's a very beautiful and comfortable reading .. wish you the best.

ciara said...

thanks for sharing, anndi. tryin to type thru watery eyes here. lovely post.

Anndi said...

Charles: I'm sorry to hear that. Your family is in my prayers.

Dana: Thanks babe.

Travis Erwin: Well happy birthday to you my dear... No wonder I like you! Stay away from the sparkles.

Karen: Thanks sweetie

Bee: Give your Mom an extra hug when you see her.

Travis: Thanks... we're doing ok.

Akelamalu: **hugs**

Errant: Thank you for the kind words.

Ciara: Thank you, sweetie. have a tissue.

Dana said...

:smooches:

Irish Gumbo said...

*blink,blink,blink*

Dammit, you know how hard it is to type with tears in your eyes?

Beautiful/sad/awesome - *blink,blink*

I lost my G-maw to cancer in 1987 and I felt for her a lot of what you felt for your moms.

Happy Birthday, anndi's Mom!
(and if you see my g-maw, tell her I said hello) *blink,blink*

Hugs for ya, kiddo.

Dianne said...

wow - you are such an amazing person but I already knew that

this just showed me yet another side

hugs anndi - and more hugs

Sparky Duck said...

*hugs* you are a beautiful person

Heinous said...

Happy Birthday Anndi's mom. You did a wonderful job.

that was a wonderful post. Thank you for sharing.

Jim

The Stiletto Mom said...

I lost my mom 17 years ago. How I wish I had thought to chronicle it so I could look back and remember those last few moments and have a written memory of how much I loved her and how she was the backbone of my entire existence.

Beautiful, gorgeous post. I am so sorry for your loss but it is clear your Mom did her work here on earth raising someone as level headed and loving as you.

Mimi Lenox said...

A sad and spirit-filled post. Beautifully written, Anndi. Your mother's strength is you.
Anyone can see that.

Blessings.

Hope said...

hmmm. I know I posted a comment, but I don't see it. Anyway mama, I'm thinking of you. I know your mom is with you and your kiddo, watching over you and wanting only happiness for you.

How are you feeling today? Have you managed any sleep?

Anndi said...

Dana: *hugs* my precious friend.

Irish: I don't think I've ever met someone that wasn't affected by cancer.
I'm sure your G-maw is very proud of the amazing man you've become, my friend.
*hug*

Dianne: I'm my mother's daughter. I was lucky.

Sparky: Awwww shucks... thanks ducky.

Jim: I appreciate that. Thanks.

Stiletto Mom: First, **hugs**.
I'm sorry for your loss.
From your comment, I'd say you remember the important stuff... just how much you love your mom and how important she was in helping you be who you are, a sweet and caring woman.

Mims: I feel her helping me now, too. Thanks my darling friend.

Hope: She is with us, I do know that.
I'm doing ok. I did manage to sleep better last night. Thanks :)

Turnbaby said...

I can't believe it's been almost two years...HUG

I think one of the beautiful aspects of these touchstones of your time with your mother is that Chicklet will have them written for her to read, keep, and share with her children.

Much love

Gary Rith Pottery Blog said...

not much makes me, a very macho fellow, teary but this did and thanks for sharing

DeeMarie said...

Wow. That was beautiful. I spent yesterday with a very good friend of mine who lost her mother (at age 50) this August. I'm going to show this to her... she too are thankful for the love and care that her mom got in her last few days. And she is struggling with knowing where grief ends and life continues. I think you show it's a daily balance...

buffalodick said...

It's your turn to be the Mom now- and you were taught by one of the best...

Anndi said...

Turnbaby: There are moments in my life where time seems to stand still, and there are days when I feel like I'm on a bullet train and all I see are streaks of light.

Chicklet was telling me on Friday, after picking her up from school and stopping on our way home for a treat that her grandmother always had good stuff for her, that she loved being in her house.

Some day, she'll read about the days I spent far from her, with her grandmother...

Thank you for that hug.

Gary: You have a kind soul.

DeeMarie: Bless you for what you're doing for your friend. She'll have good days, and terrible ones. But she has to stay focused on the good memories, they may make her sad... but at the same time, they'll make everything alright.
HUGS

Buff: I adore you, my friend... I really do.
I'm hoping I can pass it along to my Chicklet.

Cat said...

Beautiful and touching tribute, thank you for sharing that with us again on this anniversary of her life.

nitebyrd said...

Such a heartfelt, beautiful tribute. Thank you for posting this.

Slyde said...

beautfil post, and im sorry for your loss.

interesting though, my mother works for the dominican nuns, keeping their books...

Bond said...

A beautiful post two years ago...still beautiful today

Hope all is well and the snow is keeping you company

Vodka Mom said...

Well. okay. yeah, I'm just trying to clear my throat a little. That was lovely. My heart ached as I read this knowing that she has been gone...

It took me many, many years to come to terms with my mother's passing. I wish you strength, peace and hope for the future.

Your mother is ( yes, I meant to say is...) a lucky woman to have a daughter such as you.

Desert Songbird said...

You know, Christmas Day it will be 22 years since my Daddy passed away, but lately I've been missing my Mommy a lot. We must be on the same wavelength, my friend.

Lu' said...

I just wish more than anything I can imagine, that my Mother had not died alone; but she did!

Roger said...

Thank you for sharing that again Anndi what a beautiful post!

Your such a cool chick and I hope that you and family have a wonderful Christmas!

Captain Dumbass said...

Just about to go to bed and you make me cry!

Dr.John said...

What a great tribute to both your mother and the people who cared for her.

JohnH985 said...

That was a beautiful post.

Meribah said...

Lots of love and hugs to you, my dear Ann.

coopernicus said...

Great post. It will be nine years ago this Feb that my Mom passed, one week after her birthday. I learned so much by being with her that last week...actually the last fours years that she fought the big C.

VE said...

Touching post Anndi. I know you miss her! I hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas. See you for more fantastical nonsense after the holidays!

Shonda Little said...

God, this is perfect without knowing she passed away. 37 years is such a short time to be able to touch the skin of someone you love so much. My mom lost her dad 5 years ago and I know her heart aches often.