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For Mom

This isn't really a story. It is more of a true life kind of thing that I have often thought about putting to paper and just never got around to. It says all the things I wanted to say on a day in April 2000, but could not say at the time. I will regret not being able to go up to the front of that church and say what was in my heart.

Friday November 5, 1999 was not just a day like any other. It was my 29th birthday. It was also the hardest day of my life.
Thursday, the day before, my sister Wendy has just driven over from Montana to see friends and be here for my birthday. We were up chatting, and my mom got up to go to bed. As she went off to bed, she pulled me aside, and said. "My boss asked me to go to the doctor tomorrow because she is worried about me, she wants to make sure that I'm not sick." She had been really tired and rundown lately, so it was understandable. Mom was the charge nurse in a Medicare unit, and it was important that she be healthy. I decided to tell my sister about mom's appointment, just because I had such an awful ...premonition I suppose you could call it.

I got up the next morning and had coffee with my mom and sister. Mom got all upset because she forgot all about my birthday. She never had forgotten before, but it had been a busy week. Off to work, and make my way through the day. Until I got the phone call. Oddly enough, it was one that I almost expected, and had been waiting for and dreading. For no reason at all, I knew deep in my heart that something really life-changing was about to happen and I had no control over it.
Mom called from her doctors office. He wanted to send her over to get a cat scan just to make sure she is completely health and return back to work. That sinking in the pit of my stomach simply got worse. I tried to concentrate on work. Then mom called me back. She said they wanted her to go see a specialist As I was debating whether I should just leave work or finish up first, I got a call in on another line. It was the hospital. They said... "there is something in the cat scan, we want your mom to see a neurologist, and she needs someone to drive her because we do not want her driving" I tried to calling Wendy at her friends house, with no luck. I left for the hospital, thankfully only a quarter mile from where I worked. Only moments later I saw my sister pulling in. Amazingly, she had felt that same gut feeling I did that morning. Normally, a missed call is not enough to prompt someone to track me down. However, when she was told that I had called, she flipped out and hightailed it to the doctor's office, just knowing that something was wrong.

The hospital staff had given mom directions to the specialist which she had written down. When she handed them to me, I began to see how bad things could be. I could not read her writing at all. It made no sense, her numbers were all backwards, I had to call to find out where we were supposed to go. My brain just was not wanting to absorb the impact of this.

Once at the neurologists office, the tests began. Touch your nose, what's your phone number, what's your name....silly questions. I am not sure how Wendy and I stayed so calm as we heard and watched mom unable to answer or do the things he asked. When the doctor asked certain questions, I began to look back and see signs, things that most anyone would have missed. Yes, she had been having headaches. Yes, she just went to the eye doctor last week because her glasses weren't working anymore. Yes, she had been limping a lot, but she said it was because her ankle had not healed completely from the break she had in it a few months back. She had been sleepy a lot, but work had been hard lately. Any one in itself had an explanation. Together they told another story.

The doctor flipped on the light to show us her CT scan. I did not need him to tell me what it was. It was on the film in glowing white. Tumor. That word just thundering in my head. Mom had lost her father and his sister to brain tumors, but they aren't hereditary. He tells us she needs more and better tests before he can tell what kind of tumor it is and how bad. Mom asked if she can drive or go back to work. My heart knew already that she would never do those things again. My sister and I both knew, I don't know how, that mom would not be with us for long. We asked the doctor if it was OK to wait until Monday to drive to Seattle, since it was already Friday afternoon. We told him that we needed to regroup and figure out what to do as a family. Wendy and I could see it in his eyes when he answered.
The volumes his answer spoke with out many words at all. He said. "I don't think it will make much difference if you would like to wait a few days, it doesn't need to be that much of a rush"
While most would understand that to mean it was not all serious, we knew what he really meant was that nothing was going to change the outcome.

Many people would wait until they had more information before they called everyone they knew. We started the minute we got home. We made some tea and were actually quite calm and composed as we decided who to call first. God works things so well. He blessed us in many ways through out this. One of the biggest blessings was the utter peace and calm that we felt for so much of this time. It was a blessing that Wendy was visiting from out of state. I don't know what I would have done if I was all alone with this. It was a blessing that my sister Kelly had just moved only a couple of weeks prior to Oklahoma to be nearer to our sister Kristy, who until then, did not really know anyone in town other than her husband. None of us were alone.
Every last phone call was so hard to make. I don't know how we did it. Truly. God must have given us more strength then I can imagine, because looking back even now, I would say.....I just couldn't do that. Yet we did. God gave us such strength. Many times in life you lose someone so quickly that you don't have a chance to say good-bye.. We were blessed to be given that opportunity.
On the way down to Seattle on Monday, we talked the whole way about all the things we needed to do. All very organized and matter of fact. Accepting of everything. We spent countless hours on our drives to and from Seattle listening, as mom described what she would say if she could be there on the wedding days we hoped to have one day, or the birth of a child, or just because. I treasure the memory of those trips.

It felt like forever before we were actually able to get a doctor to tell us what the odds and survival was. Mom was diagnosed with the fastest growing, hardest to treat tumor there is. It was also located in a part of the brain where most of the major organ functions are at. Surgery was not even an option we were given, the likelihood of anything working was small. Yet there was even a blessing in this. While we had been given time to say good-bye and spent with her, they assured us that it would not be a drawn out or painful death. She also never lost her mental abilities, and she remained the same loving person she always was. She left us even far before they said she would. She had so few of the many symptoms and side effects the doctors had warned us about, that one could almost at times pretend she wasn't even really sick.

Mom was such an inspiration. I had never met anyone who faced death with that much dignity and lack of fear. There were only a few things she cried about. She cried because she didn't want us to hurt. She cried for our future weddings without a mom by our side. For when the other girls became mothers, and she wouldn't be there to share and offer her mother's wisdom. For the for the fear that the only thing she would leave for us would be medical bills. She cried for time lost. Time lost working and never taking vacations. Time lost spending with us. She apologized for all the things we never had, and for all the time she now considered wasted , even if we never considered it that. She was only 35 when she became a single mom with 4 kids , ages 9-14. She worked full time at minimum wage to support us, while putting herself though college at the same time. She was up from the crack of dawn off to work, until late at night pouring over the text books, to get her LPN license, then continuing her studies to become an RN. She was a true roll model for us all. She worked so hard to get ahead. Finally she was at a place in her life where she could finally do all the things she always dreamed of. Now this. She only said once that it wasn't fair. It wasn't fair that she worked so hard for so long, and sacrificed so much, and it no longer made any difference. She was sorry that she had been in school, instead of watching more of our basketball games, or concerts. We told her that there was nothing to be sorry for. We were so proud of her when she received her RN degree. I know she made a difference in countless lives even through her work. Even when she could no longer walk, she asked us to take her to her former employer, because the patients there loved her and worried about her. She wanted to show them she was OK so that they wouldn't worry. Constantly thinking of others before herself. She was the most loving, special person I have known. She sent more letters and care packages off to college for her girls then any other person I know. All the other kids in the dorms thought she was so cool. She was the very best Nana that my son Thomas could ever hope to have. The night before her memorial service, he cut hearts and flowers out of construction paper as a surprise for me. He wanted me to paste them on Nana's picture board for her good bye party. I cry knowing that he may not remember her as well as I would want, and that he will grow up not knowing her enough . I am so grateful that God chose her to be my mother.

Mom said that she was at peace with everything, because we all knew, we never had any words not spoken. No missing I love you's, or unresolved conflict. That is so wonderful isn't it? know that your loved one is so certain of your love for them and their love for you, that they feel nothing else needs to be said.

Mom's death was the most peaceful thing I have ever witnessed. It was so amazing. She had been wanting to go outside for the past several days, but it was always pouring down rain. On that morning, March 26, 2000, the sun was streaming in and bathing her face and shoulders.

After mom died, we went through all the many letters we had written her through the years. The most touching one I found was a card mailed to her by my sister Kelly when she got her RN.
It said "Mom, I am so proud of you. You don't have to worry about your girls any more. You have taught us all how to be strong, and God is watching all of us. I miss you." I could never have said it any better myself.

I have had 2 birthdays now since that first day. They are getting better. I don't think about the day mom died, though I do think about her on her birthday. After all, my whole life long March 1st has been "her day". She would have been 51 this year. She has missed one wedding this year, and another is coming this fall, as well as the arrival of her second grandchild. Yet, while her absence has been felt, so has her presence.

But here I have to add
Mom, you taught me that story time is way more important than dishes in the sink. That snuggles fix almost anything. That vacations can't wait. That life is more important than things. How to be a mom. I miss you so much. You were not just my mom. You were my very best friend and confidant. You always gave more than you had to us. You always made us feel loved and special. You gave hugs every day. You helped us find who we are. You forgave and gave freely. You were the most giving, caring, loving person I have ever known. I love you. I know that I will always think of you fondly, and often. And while those thoughts may bring tears, they will bring far greater smiles.
Your hard headed one.

This is likely something that will always remain an unfinished work. No matter how I rearrange, add, or take away from it, I am unable to be content that the depth of emotion is here that I wish to take from my heart to the paper. When I write it all down, I feel it, when I read it, it looks like insignificant trivial details for the most part. It does not convey nearly enough of the essance of mom that few will ever know as us girls did. I will keep on trying though until I get it just right, because this is for mom. and she deserves nothing but the best.

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Upload Date: 31/12/1969

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