Saturday, October 12, 2013

Uncle P's Mom (Updated)

Waters Edge Rehab Center, Trenton, NJ
The past few weeks have been rather difficult for your old Uncle P. My mother (aka Malaprop Mom) suffered a heart attack last month which left her with kidney damage, requiring regular dialysis. It also left her very weak and debilitated. After two and a half weeks in a local hospital where she ranged from ornery to recalcitrant, Mom was moved yesterday to a rehab center in an attempt to regain her strength so she might come home. But I fear she has given up and may never come home.

To understand how distressing this is, you have to know a bit about my amazing Mom. Both strong-willed and emotionally vulnerable, as kids, my sister and I were always asking her to slow down so we could catch up with her. She taught both of us to read before we ever stepped foot in a school (and got yelled at by both of our First Grade teachers because we were already ahead of the others). Mom never wanted to be anything else than a Mom. She wanted 5 children and ended up with 2, the second of whom was born prematurely but fought and grew into one of the strongest people I know (and one of the best friends I could imagine). Nothing was too good for us, growing up. When I was in High School, I had the opportunity to travel to Europe and Mom went out and got her first job since she was a teenager to help pay for it. When my father left her, she soldiered on, dancing her way through my sister's wedding, just a few weeks after her own father passed away. 

A self-confessed "shopaholic," Mom was always smartly dressed with a killer manicure and the perfect heel for every outfit. And after arthritis required a knee replacement, she switched to smart and stylish flats. Mom loved the sun and maintained a year-round tan, naturally. And an avid reader herself, it wasn't unusual for her to go through three or four novels a week. She read mostly thrillers and mysteries, but was not above the occasional romance or even a Stephen King novel (she just finished "Under the Dome" a few days before she went into the hospital). Her current favorite TV shows include "Castle;" "Parenthood" and "The Good Wife," along with "The Walking Dead" and "Falling Skies." Since my first High School role in Bye Bye, Birdie, she has been a staunch supporter of my theatrical and artistic endeavors.

After my a-hole father left her, she actually 'found' herself. She dated several guys (including an old High School flame and one hot Russian who was actually two years younger than me!), but gave up on romance when she realized most men are a-holes (something which seems to apply to both straight and gay men). When I finally came out to her, she said she already knew and cried because I thought she'd be upset.

Of course, ever since being forced to retire when the auto-dealer for she which she'd worked for almost 18 years went out of business, her health has declined significantly. In the past four years, I've lost count of how many times I've had to call 911. This past February, she spent a week and a half in the hospital for congestive heart failure. She seemed fine after coming home and I never imagined she'd be back in the ER so soon.

My father passed away in 1999 from brain cancer. He was living in Las Vegas with his second wife (a whole other post could be devoted to that wedding, alone) and I hadn't seen or spoken to him in at least three years. I was in Provincetown, spending 4th of July weekend with my then boyfriend, Ric, whom Mom adored. We got home late that Monday afternoon and Mom informed me that Dad had passed. And I felt... well, to be honest... nothing.

 Today, watching Mom get dialysis while drifting in and out of awareness, I felt... everything. Anger. Remorse. Pity. Fear. Anger. Frustration. Worry. Love. Anger. 

Of course I know we are all human, and being human means we die. We all will die. But that doesn't make it any easier to watch someone you love; someone who was always there for you; someone who loves you unconditionally, come closer to that final milestone.

It is my fervent hope that rehab will help her gain her strength so she can return home and spend at least a few more years with me. But seeing her tonight, covered in bruises and scabs; weak and drifting in and out of coherence; hooked up to a machine which does a job her own organs can't... well... that's just not right. Not for the Mom we had to tell "Slow down" when we went to the mall to shop for Back-to-School clothes. Not for the Mom who fought when I was unjustly accused of misconduct my freshman year of High School. Not for the Mom who taught me to love to read and write. Not for the Mom who made me crazy so many times. Or the Mom who made me laugh so many times. Or the Mom who, after I made her watch the premiere episode of "The Walking Dead," knowing she'd appreciate the show's humanity, loved it. 

Not my Mom. 

Not yet.

More, anon.

Update: Not long after I finished this post, Mom was rushed to St. Francis Medical Center ICU with internal bleeding. I saw her briefly today. She is very pale and hallucinating, but recognized me and held my hand. I'm hanging on by a thread, myself. I can't stand to see her like this. I know we all go through it, but I thought I'd have a few more years...

Uncle P


Anonymous said...

All I can say is that my thoughts are with you. Do what you can now but be sure to take care of yourself and allow your sister (i think she lives near you) to help. I wish your mom peace and comfort and the strength to recover and get home.

Jon DeepBlue said...

Sending you a big {{HUG}}


Suzanne said...

Beautifully written. ((Brian))