My Beautiful Mother

My Beautiful Mother and I

My Beautiful Mother and I

My beautiful mother is very, very ill.

I held her for a while this evening.  The drugs are not working.  She is shaking and terrified.  A staff member told me to hold her hand and tell her it’s all right for her to go if she has to.

I cannot do that.  That is the job for her primary caregiver. I just cannot.

She is being given “End of Life” treatment.

The first words out of her mouth when she saw me,  “You look so good.”  (Mom, thank you! )

She mumbles and mumbles.   Then:  “I might die,” she said clearly.  Mostly she mutters,  “Help me.”

I couldn’t understand what she was saying at first.

It seems to calm her if I put my hand on her shoulder or my arm around her.  She dropped off to sleep for a while.

Undoubtedly she is the best mother ever, the strongest, and smartest (when she is not drugged).  I love her dearly.  What other mother could  have given the gift of indestructible confidence to such an ordinary daughter?  Not only was I as good as anybody else, but much better!  (Well, yes, I am much better.)

See, that’s what she did for us.  I have been called a bitch (a compliment, no?) and a sweetie (an even greater compliment).  It’s all compliments–see?  That’s my mom!

But she isn’t sleeping. She wakes up after 10 minutes.   “Couldn’t you give her Ambien?”  I asked.  I am an expert on Ambien.  It is the only drug you will ever need if you can get it.  Throw out your Prozac and whatever else.  Just go to sleep.

Here is what I know about my beautiful mother.  (Surprisingly little.)  She is a good mother.  When I was in the hospital for a tonsillectomy and almost bled to death, she did not leave my side.  She set up Barbie patio furniture on my bed.

She is  good at everything.  Bridge?  The best.  Want to see the prizes?

Badminton?  Pretty good.  I remember a day of playing badminton after t my father didn’t come home one day. It was an occasion.  She rarely played with us.  She was fun, but somehow frail.

She never stooped to playing Bingo.

She has many, many, so many  friends.  I can count mine on one finger, to quote John Mellencamp.

Sometimes life is too ridiculous to live
You count your friends all on one finger
I know it sounds crazy just the way that we live”–John Mellencamp, “Between a Laugh and a Tear”

She saw EVERY movie, and I do mean EVERY movie.  She fell asleep when we went to Pollock.  We laughed over the last movie we saw in a theater together,  Bridesmaids.

She knows politics. She is sharp.  She was a political science major. She waited for hours on the Old Capitol lawn to see Hillary and Bill Clinton.  “I hoped to see a woman president in my lifetime.”

She saved Holy Cards (a really nice one of St. Patrick), the St. Patrick’s Catholic Church Dedication Liturgy (a new church was dedicated in 2009 after the destruction of the original church by a tornado), and a surprisingly good Special 25th  Anniversary issue of People magazine. (I have been reading about Madonna, John Travolta, and Karen Silkwood’s children tonight.)

I would like a pack of Holy Cards.

Note how beautifully dressed she is in the picture above.  That is a cashmere sweater she later gave to me.

She introduced me to reading.

Baby Animals:  that is the name of the book we’re reading in the picture.  I am one year old.  I already have a huge pile of Golden Books.  Little Red Riding Hood, Three Little Kittens, The Poky Little Puppy, The Little Red Hen.  Every time we go to the grocery store I get another Golden Book.  (My panda has been abandoned for a good book.)

I meant to post a much more glamorous picture of her, but I couldn’t scan it.   It simply wouldn’t work.

I think the whole family should have met before an End of Life decision was made.  Families often fight about this, my doctor told me.  He knows of a case where a brother and sister came to blows.

If they’d tell me her weight and the dosage I could figure out the dosage of Ambien on my calculator.  Just call me Doctor World Wide Web.

I want her to be comfortable.  I do not want her to suffer.

I do not want to say goodbye to her.  I want her to survive.

I’m red-eyed from crying, but will not be red-eyed tomorrow.  I will be strong.  It is what I can do for her.

I called my dad, but he was cold.  “Let me know if anything changes.”  They have been divorced 40 years.

That is when I knew that it was hopeless.  Nobody is going to step up to the plate.  If anyone steps up, it has to be me.  I saved her life twice. But I have been ill, and this time it has gone on too long without intervention.

And I will leave you with a Bob Marley song that isn’t very practical here.

Get up, stand up: stand up for your rights!
Get up, stand up: stand up for your rights!
Get up, stand up: stand up for your rights!
Get up, stand up: don’t give up the fight!

It should be:  Get up, stand up:  stand up for your Mom!

7 thoughts on “My Beautiful Mother

  1. Kat, I’m so sorry to hear this about – you are being so brave for your mother and I feel for you terribly. The journey out of life is so hard – I have witnessed two work colleagues coping with the loss of someone dear to them (sister and mother) and from what they have told me it has been such a fight. You are being strong and I hope things are resolved for you soon. Sending you my love and best wishes.


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