Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Motherless Child

Last November my mother suffered a stroke and was hospitalized for a month before being moved to a rehabilitation/nursing home. She spent more than two months there before coming home.

For those long months, she was gone to us. Her mind turned against her, she could speak only gibberish, she didn't know her family or herself. She seemed to only know fear and pain.

Gradually she came back. She recognized her husband, even if she could not say his name. The light in her eyes changed and she knew her daughters and even if the words weren't always right, we knew she was back.

She came home to a life changed. She needed more help than before, physically, but the torment that her mind had put her through, even before the stroke, was gone. She didn't have an easy time of it and there were setbacks, but she was calm and seemed more at peace than any time I can remember, especially in these last few years.

A year later, on Thanksgiving, she got out of bed and fell to her knees. Her blood pressure had dropped precipitously and she was taken to the emergency room. Her breathing was labored and they had to put her on a ventilator, the emphysema that was manageable up until then, had caught up with her. She could not breathe on her own. She never left the hospital.

My mother was a planner. Years ago, she made out a living will defining under what circumstances she wished to live. She and I discussed it many times over the years and I know, without a doubt, that we did what she would have wanted. That we didn't make the decision, we only decided not to block her decision.

Still, nothing prepares you. All the planning in the world goes out the window when faced with the end of a life that you love.

We were with her until the end.  She died on November 30.

Mama was not perfect. She didn't have a perfect husband and she didn't have perfect daughters. But she knew, she knows we love her. Knew it all along, even in the difficult times.

I am happy for her that she is no longer struggling, no longer suffering. I'm also comforted, perhaps selfishly, in feeling absolutely certain that she knew she was loved.

What else could matter so much? If you love someone, make them know it.


  1. I'm so sorry to hear that, TT. And so glad that you had the chance to be with her and respect her wishes.

  2. So sorry to hear about your loss. I hope you and your family are doing well.

  3. That was a tough read and your a very heartfelt person but definately no JOY DIVISION for a while!

  4. I am so very sorry - I'm sitting here with tears running down my face, as I lost my dear sister just today. My mom died back in '87 of cancer, but she had also had a stroke previously, so I know what you mean about losing someone who cannot express themselves as you are used to. The title of your post and the music are so appropriate. Words cannot express my feelings, except to say that my heart is with you. Here is a quote I found that I sent to my niece who's been with her mom in the hospital for the past 10 days. Perhaps it will bring you some measure of comfort:

    " 'I still hear you humming, Mama. The color of your song calls me home. The color of your words saying, "Let her be. She got a right to be different. She gonna stumble on herself one of these days. just let the child be' And I be, Mama." ~ Sonia Sanchez

    Peace be with you, dear one.

  5. Thanks yall.

    Glen, thanks for that. If I had to listen to Joy Division right now I would fling myself into a volcano. Or kill you.

    Ladybug, I'm so so sorry about your sister. Thank you for the quote. Except for trying to make me wear lipstick, my mom was pretty good about letting me be me. I hope I stumble on myself someday.

  6. DANA 80, or AMC Large axle your mom PB was great... Sorry about that and wish I could have seen you guys when you where here...

    Take care


  7. The test worked just fine, thanks for straightening me out, you ar the greatest!

  8. you're right, it's never an easy thing...even though you know it might be coming...how can we be prepared for death. we can't really.
    but we can remember the good times...the fun times...
    she is at peace now...no pain. no suffering. she's whole again...and looking down upon you...and KNOWING you loved her with all your heart.

    my thoughts are with you...and i'm here for ya if you need an extra ear...
    (you know i've been through MORE than my fair share of the same...)

    hang in there...take time for yourself...DO for YOU! xoxo

  9. Heywood, thanks. She liked you too, which just shows how bad off she was. ;)

    Laura, thank you and I know you're right. You've been so good to me through all this. What a great and crazy thing the internet is, to find friends and have a community feeling through technology!

  10. Well I don't know how I'm not crying. I understand. I understand everything. My mother died April 2010. She was only 59. I know the heart break. I know how every holiday is a struggle between trying to live and say fuck you to death, and the heartbreak of being without the light of our HOMES.

    Yeah. I'd be mad at Christmas too. Hell, but I made it through.

  11. I'm so sorry for your loss. My mother-in-law had emphysema and watching her struggle for air towards the end was so difficult. I love the line about how your Mom knew she was loved.

    1. Thanks Tracy. Knowing she knew it truly gives me comfort.


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