- United States
- I despise the left wing liberal attempts to change America. I support FREEDOM, freedom of speech, right to bear arms, religious freedom and protecting the rights of Americans, including the unborn. Close the border, round up illegals and send them home. Welcome them back with a green card. I believe in preserving the visions of our founding fathers which did not include Socialism or Sharia Law. This IS STILL America.....at least for now.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
I woke up today on my 44th birthday, and almost immediately the phone rang. I ran to the phone just knowing it was my Mom who called me every year and sang Happy Birthday to me. It wasn't her. I cried.
She died just over a year ago.
One year ago today, I was in Dallas, Texas cleaning out her apartment which was across the street from the hospital where she gave birth to me. I felt as though I was invading her privacy. Since I live in Georgia and drove to Dallas, I had limited room to take back things of hers that I wanted to keep. How do you choose from your Mom's most loved treasures? How do you know what she would have really wanted me to keep? It was the the third hardest day of my life. The first hardest was telling her she could go....not knowing that being on life support for days she would leave me with in five seconds after telling her I would be okay. The second hardest day was the day we should have taken her to the airport to send her back home. We did send her home....but it was not back to Texas. We buried her. Then...the third hardest day.....was cleaning out her apartment. The fourth hardest day....has been every day since the day she died.
How do you say goodbye to the person who no matter what, loved you more than life itself? The one person you could talk to, who accepted all your faults and loved you more for them?
My Mom had a very hard life, she was unlucky in love, health problems all her life....and she was so young to have died from heart disease. She had her first bypass at age 42. More were to follow along with strokes.
She was just the strongest woman you could ever meet. They told me in July of 2000 that she would never be able to speak again or ever live on her own. That the last stroke stole far too much of her comprehension for her to ever live independently again and that she should be put into a nursing home.
They did not know my Mother like I did.
The only words she could say after that stroke were, "Oh Mannnnn". I talked to her on the phone...and I told her they wanted me to put her in a nursing home. She said, "Oh, Mannnn". It was an angry "Oh, Mannnn". Then I said, Mom, I want you to come and live with me. We will get you through this. She said, "Oh Mannnn". It was in a tone like....Really? You would do that for me? I told her I loved her and she said, "Oh Mannnnnn". It was in the tone of I love you too. I knew by her tone, not her words, that she was in there. She knew what was going on and she was ready to fight.
Two weeks later she arrived. They wheeled her off the back of the airplane as we watched from the gate windows. The easy part was done. Now the work had to begin.
We got her into occupational therapy, speech therapy, and physical therapy. She learned to tie her shoes, and to get herself a glass of water, to make a slice of toast, to count money, sign her name and to dial a phone. Things you never ever think you will have to teach your Mom. The hardest part was speech. She took one word at a time and would say it over and over and over until she got it right. I remember when she was trying to say the word table. She was sitting on my deck at the table and she tried so hard to say that word. She said it wrong about a million times. We kept trying. I went inside for a moment....but something made me turn around and I just watched her through the sliding glass doors. I saw a determination like I have never seen before. I remember standing there beside my dining room table...looking out at her sitting on the deck repeating her attempts over and over....and thinking how our lives felt like an ABC movie of the week. The next thing I know...she was bolting out of her chair...running toward me screaming the word over and over...TABLE TABLE TABLE TABLE. SHE DID IT! We hugged, cried....and both shouted TABLE TABLE TABLE through our tears. I can close my eyes and go back to that very time as if it were happening today. Table. Such a common word. Yet this common word has such power and memories in it that it can take me back to a place in time where my Mom is still alive for a just a few moments.
Next we moved to sentences. Now this was not without some humor along the way. I only had a two bedroom house...so when my Mom came I gave her my room and I slept on the living room floor on an egg crate mattress. My Mom had back trouble and my mattress was not working for her. So I got rid of it and we went shopping for a mattress and box springs that would be more comfortable for her. We went into this one store..and she found one she liked. She laid on it...and decided that was it. As we went to pay for it, the man asked her if she was sure that was the right one. She said...."Oh yes, I like purple dicks". She immediately knew that did not come out right....the man looked startled....she turned to me with her eyes just about to fill up with tears, she was horrified....and I just laughed. She gave me a look that I cannot describe...but I can still see it clear as can be. She looked at the man and took a deep breath and said, "I sorry". Then she got tickled, but she was still embarrassed...I think it just took her a second to realize it was done...it was over. The man looked at her..and by this time realized she had a speech problem....he touched her hand....and said...It's okay (in his best gay accent) I like pink ones. We all stood there and laughed for what seemed an eternity. As we were walking out the door, the man gave my Mom a hug and told her to keep trying. He knew good days were ahead for her. I still wish I knew what she really meant to say that day....but whatever it was....it came out wrong!
My Mom did recover. Her speech was never the way it used to be, but you could understand everything she said. She lived with me for about 6 months and she returned to Texas and lived independently until she died. She traveled to visit us, she went to Mississippi to meet some of her online friends at a casino. That was a tough one for me. It was her first trip solo after her stroke. I tried to make sure she was ready....and she just kept saying Yes, Mom...to all my warnings, much the way a teenager would do. I was a nervous wreck, but she made the trip safely and had the time of her life. I was so proud of her.
Her final trip was to visit us for Christmas. She arrived December 19th, 2007. We had one full week to enjoy being with her before she became ill. The first week was just a cold, but she was so weak...that it really took a toll on her. Then on January 5th, she had an episode of pulmonary flash edema. She filled up with fluid and we got her to the hospital. No reason to think this was going to be anything other than routine. The next night I went to bed and in the middle of the night the Chaplin called. She was not responsive. We rushed to the hospital and I said, Mom, I am here. She asked what took me so long....lol. I think her sugar just went to low. Still, they let us stay in ICU with her. Her sugar was going up and down and they could not stabilize it. They would give her insulin to bring it down and then ten minutes later they were giving her juice to bring it up...then ten minutes later more insulin to bring it down. We got her comfortable and she went to sleep. I settled in a chair at the foot of her bed. I was just looking at her...and reflecting on how strong she was and yet how weak.....and as I was looking at her..she vomited in her sleep with an oxygen mask on her face. I called for the nurse who came in..checked her and then had a look of panic. She aspirated. They were going to have to tube her. I helped them clean her up a little and told her I had to leave the room for a while...but I would just be outside. As soon as they would let me come back in, I would be there. She nodded. I told her I loved her and went to the waiting room. She was on the tube for two days...fighting for every breath, fighting to live. Every function in her body was going haywire. I kept telling her I needed her. "Mom, I need you here with me".
That night, her fever spiked to 108. They told me that it was not from the infection that resulted from the aspirations....they were sure she had had a stroke. It had to be something going on in her brain. Still she fought. Her fever then dropped to 94 and then to normal. She was fighting....fighting to live.....holding on to life.
I was with her in her room....and the nurse was there. When the nurse completed her checks, I was able to get by her side. I said, "Mom, I want you here with me, but if you are tired of fighting, I understand and I will be okay". In five seconds, she was gone. On January 8th, 2008 my Mom was gone at the very young age of 65.
A few days later we took flowers to the nurses who cared for her. The nurse that was with me when she died hugged me and cried with me. She said in 30 years of nursing, she had heard stories about how people told family they could go and they did. She said she had never witnessed it until my Mom. She also told me that during the time my Mom was in her care, that there was no reason why she lived, she was so sick. She believed that my telling her I would be okay, released her. She said she would never forget our family.
It is so hard. I still reach for the phone to call her when the kids do something funny. She loved these kids with everything in her. I used to call her when I was in the carpool line everyday...and still everyday when I am in carpool....I think.....I need to call Mom. I still look for her on my buddy list and she is not there. They say it will get easier.....that I will be able to think about her and not cry. I miss her laugh, I miss her voice and her sense of humor. I miss talking to her about everything and nothing at all. Sometimes we did that. Just talked about nothing in particular.
Well, it has been a year, and it is not any easier. Kiss your Mom. Tell her you love her. Send her flowers. When she is gone, you will wish you had. You will wish for just one more time...one more chance...but it will never come.
Mom, I love you. I will never be the same without you. I will make it because I have to....but the one thing that keeps me going is that I know, I know with everything in me...I will see you again.
I WILL see you again.
My Mom, Leta Faye Clark Miller, 1942-2008