What a busy day it has been! Lots of great info out there, stuff coming to me instead of me having to hunt for it, super posts to read and fun to be had. And with the sun gone for at least a couple of days, sitting around at my desk seems a good idea.
Today I’m kind of pensive, because it’s the third anniversary of my mother’s death. What a woman! So full of life and verve, I called her “crazy” many a time because, well, she acted like a crazy person. And she could infuriate you before you even turned around twice. But that’s what mothers do, so I’m told. And one day, my babies will say the same about me. In a good way, I hope!
But that’s just the thing. My babies will never know her. Will never know that she hated to cook but was really good at it. Will never know that she was really smart and never gave herself credit for it. Will never know how much she loved shopping for others, because they would have benefited greatly from that passion! They will never know how much she loved her family and was the reason for every single thing she did. Every day.
My mom was diagnosed with something called Pulmonary Fibrosis in 2006. She’d had a cough for a very long time, but she was so resistant about going to the doctor. I guess all of our complaining finally got to her. X-rays ultimately revealed something that the doctor called “honeycombs,” so they had to do a biopsy, which is when they figured out what would eventually snuff out the bright light that was Betty.
She hated wearing the nose canula for the oxygen. She was so vain, my mother. (That’s where I get it from!) She liked having her hair done, her makeup on and her clothes neatly pressed. Wearing the nose canula brought attention she didn’t like. Eventually, she had to use a wheelchair, because the physical exertion was too much, even with the oxygen. She hated that, too.
She died at home on Good Friday, April 2, 2010, with my dad, sister, husband and me surrounding her. The last thing she said to me was, “You can hold my hand if you want to.” And of course, I did.
I’m not telling you this to make you sad, but motherhood without a mother is really damn hard. Harder than I ever – in my control freaky mind – thought possible. What I would have given to hear her advice on getting through pregnancy, commentary on what I was doing wrong with my 2 year old, warnings about post partum depression, and what I’m sure would have been countless arguments over how much she was spoiling the grandchildren. And I would have lost every one, I’m sure.
I’ve only just scratched the surface of the person she was. And it’s only the tip of the iceberg to know what watching someone battling a terminal illness feels and looks like. So many mistakes made along the way and so much time I wasted, thinking I had more time.
But I tell you this – don’t ignore a recurring symptom of any kind. Suck it up and get it checked out. Don’t just accept what the first doctor tells you. Look for yourself and find another doctor if you need to. Don’t give up, whether you are the one that is sick or you are the one trying to help the one who is sick. And don’t miss out on a chance to tell someone, “I love you.” Seriously.
Let me know if you’ve had similar circumstances, or if you’re navigating the murky waters of motherhood without your mother. Oh, and if you haven’t already, please sign up to be an organ donor. The gift of life.