Watching Now

As of a few hours ago, my mother is still alive.

As it happens, today is the 23rd anniversary to the day and the day of the week of my father's death from cancer.

At this time my mother is in the final stage of her battle with my family's universal cause of death.

She was diagnosed seven years ago. Had her bladder removed and lived like that for five years. Then, had a kidney removed two years ago in response to a recurrence. And now, metastasis.

They took her to Calvary, a terminal care facility. Not hospice, a true hospital. We wish they hadn't done that; it's where my father died. Once there she complained until they released her, took her home.

We got her a hospital bed for her apartment and 24 hour shift of nurses. She wasn't there more than two hours before she fell and broke her hip. Had a partial replacment operation and is now bed-ridden - barely aware of where she is.

So, we watch her fade. She's so happy to see us when we visit. She's so out of it that she's happy to see me several times when I visit.

She cries, she smiles, she asks if I'm OK. I'm fine I'm fine I tell her and kiss her forehead, squeeze her hand and just sit while she sleeps.

I cannot do enough; I'll never do enough to repay her endless generosity to me, my sister, and our children. The place in my heart occupied by the memories of my father, my grandparents, the aunts and uncles and cousins that have gone on, will have a new light; the brightest one of all.

It sucks - it really really sucks. If it hurts like hell, you're doing it right. Don't miss a moment, don't be miserly with your love or your tears. Did I say that it sucks? It does.

It hurts most through my children. We don't and wouldn't spare them any of this. When I was a child, the dying were hidden away. First, Grandma is sick, she'll come back when she's better. Then, Grandma died, and even the funeral and the cemetary was a mystery.

Is it better for my children to see my mother as she is now? They've know her all their lives, saw her strong and funny and loving and annoying as hell. Now they see a tiny women, weak and curled on a bed. She loves seeing them, she thrives on their presence, they need to give her their presence, to practice that generosity. So it's right for them to witness this. But the pain doubles for me - that I'm losing my mother, and the children are losing their grandmother.

God Bless All of You. The sufferers; cancer patients, the grandchildren, children, siblings, spouses, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, friends of cancer patients. Take the time you have, use the time you have and never let the memories fade.

50percent 50percent
51-55, M
1 Response May 30, 2007

ok! I know this story is a couple years old, so no doubt, you've already dealt with all that had to be dealt with at the time. Here are my comment to kids seeing their sick realitives, and I don't know, it may be different for me later in life when I have to deal with it with my in-laws, as my kids were pretty little when my dad died and not here when my mom died. But my dad lost his dad when he was 5 years old and until the day he died, he held a grudge because he remembers seeing his daddy in a casket. He hated that he wasn't protected from that awful memory. But I asked him one day, "Dad, if you would of never been able to see your dad, do you think you would be upset, because you were never allowed to say good-bye? He said; shocked! "I've never thought about it that way!" So here is my advice, if it matters. Dying is a part of living. Yes, children do not completly understand it all, but they are aware. And having a religious background, makes it easy for me to lean on God and tell them heaven is a real place, and someday we will all be there. But the wrong in it is this; You don't just take your kids to a casket and not say anything at all. Or pretend the kids don't get it. You talk, you listen, and you talk some more, and you always, always, try to comfort and make that kid feel safe. Even if it is hard for the kids to talk about. And you don't just leave it for that one day, be open about death. We live on a farm, where animals are always dying. It is a part of life, we are open to it. We talk about everything dying and we talk about Jesus on the cross, and that there is an after-life in heaven. It's ok to be sad, its ok, but the key is, no matter how hard it is, is not to totally over-whelm the kids, but to be open and honest and let them see you cry too. (That is my opionion.)