Sunday, July 22, 2012

NO GOOD DEED . . .

It became impossible to write, never having anything new to say. I just couldn’t do it, as my story continued repeating itself throughout the months and years (five years, as it turned out).

My mother passed away in early May 2012. She was under hospice care since April 2011 when she was diagnosed with an aortic tear in an inoperable place. Added to her instability with her meds—there was nothing more the doctors could do. Between acute spells of fainting, she was fairly well. Against expectations of her admitting doctor who tried to prepare her for instant death from the aneurysm, she somehow plugged that thing up and continued on, and agreed to hospice, knowing full well what it means, because the only thing she was concerned about was staying out of the hospital which meant being away from her wardrobe and stuff.

She lived the last seven months with my daughter and her family, which includes a huge, lovesick black lab (you know how they are—if you are not moving, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be petting them so they shove their head under your hand in case you don’t understand), and an orange cat. On the day she moved in there, my daughter remembered at the last minute she had promised a friend to take in a kitten that the friend just couldn’t keep. You would think that would add a bit of stress, but no—the only problem was catching the little thing to pet it. I have two old, dusty cats who are all over me all the time, and it was magic to have a brand new spanking clean baby-smelling kitty to play with. The dog followed my mother at all times in case she might drop some food or have time to pet him, and the orange cat and the multicolored kitten became part of the bedding, which made my mom very happy.

There were little things, problems there. My 11-year old granddaughter runs that household and my mother was just a bit annoyed at that, she being used to being the star all her life. It was never her way to raise kids (as I certainly know—she put a lot of value into the philosophy that kids should be seen (if absolutely necessary) but not heard).

One day she was walking with my daughter, sitting on the porch enjoying the sun and flowers and the next morning she woke up feeling worse than usual. My daughter called me in tears saying she thinks “it’s started.” By the time we all got there later in the day, she was able to smile at us and try to say hello but she couldn’t talk clearly. Very shortly after that, she stopped communicating with us and I’m not sure she knew us anymore. We were with her for six days and as often happens, she died at a time when no one happened to be in the room for a few seconds. My son-in-law found her dead when he went in to say goodnight on his way to bed. He was her special friend—he has a booming deep voice and he was the only one she could hear clearly as she had been very nearly deaf for a long, long time. During the six days, there were several hospice visits, including a few by the hospice chaplain who talked with her about the state of her soul—comforting to the more religious of us, but I am skeptical and doubtful that she could hear—although many wanted to believe that ability comes back when death is near. As far as I could tell, it was not an avenue she wanted to explore even at that time.

2nd sister (who I had thought might be salvageable), had come back into the fold at the time of the aneurysm and was visiting fairly often, although she complained that with my mother being so far away now, and her being unable to drive on freeways (I know, don’t ask), it made it harder for her to visit. 2nd sister, her daughter and husband, and I basically moved in there for those six days—spending time in the room always, my daughter compulsively doing scrapbooks and sorting my mother’s things, and the rest of us visiting and at some times resorting to our computers for distraction. I think the hospice comfort meds are more for the families than the patient—it quieted her but it was obvious she was not comfortable. And as always, death was a relief when it finally came.

Evil sister #1 never made an appearance, and I had to ask 2nd sister to quit calling her because it was obviously torturing #1 as she said she had forgiven her mother but would not come to see her again. However, 1st sister’s daughter, long absent, came for awhile but had to leave when her own father got suddenly ill (and died a few days later). My granddaughter would spend her time being quite normal, jumping on the trampoline in the back yard, or dancing to the DVD she got for Christmas, and then suddenly stopping and coming to my mother’s bedside to sit quietly holding her hand for a while.

My daughter and nieces were inconsolable at her passing; 2nd sister and I resigned and at that time just frozen with disbelief, I guess.

I miss my mother now, in strange ways. I feel so sad for her that she is now separated from every material thing she loved with such passion. As we continue to clean out her house, I feel a little guilty getting rid of the stuff that HAS to be gotten rid of. She is in a beautiful urn, sitting in the window, so she can see the surroundings of the home she loved. My daughter moved her one hot day to a cooler spot, behind a curtain, which disturbed me and I moved her again, so she could “see.” We will at some point, scatter her ashes, some at her home, some in Arizona where all good RVers want to rest. A funny moment—after we received the urn, 2nd sister asked if I had opened it—I had not. She matter-of-factly took off the top and lifted out the bag as if she were making sure we got our money’s worth in weight—the rest of us stood there with jaws dropped at her business-like inspection of it all.

There was a memorial near my mother’s home—many, many people came some of whom we didn’t know, but knew my mother from her RVing days.

A month or so before the death, my doctor e-mailed me asking me to set up a phone consult with her. Seems she’d been reviewing her patients’ pharmacy records to make sure there were no dangerous combinations occurring. She had read up on my magic stomach pills that I’d been taking for 10 years or so and discovered that in a person my age they could cause drowsiness, vision problems and forgetfulness, and she would no longer prescribe them. Wouldn’t you know I would be the unfortunate patient of an ethical physician. I told her the drowsiness was what I liked about the pills (felt like beautiful serenity to me), and didn’t mention that yes, there had been vision problems—unfortunately no forgetfulness though. She chuckled and said if anxiety became a problem, she would consider antidepressants. I don’t expect to go there—I’m not chemically depressed—my life is just depressing.

Like any good addict, I had collected a fair stash of the pills, which “magically” lasted me (with extra frugal use) to the final day when I had to turn over to 2nd sister her part of the estate—a few thousand in cash after all expenses had been paid. 2nd sister had complained to her daughter that it seemed unfair that I got a $300,000 house (worth three times that much if the market were normal) and she got only a few thousand dollars. I guess she forgot her three-year abandonment of my mother and efforts to sell my mother’s house while she was still alive three years previous to the aneurysm.

2nd sister attended a high school reunion a week or so after my mother’s death and visited with a guy who’d dated both of us in high school. He’d dated me after 2nd sister got engaged to the guy who became her first husband. He was my first date and of course I fell in love. I wrote about him here—how I met him at a previous all-years reunion and found him the only still recognizable man in his class. He hugged me, we talked for awhile and for me, at least, I felt the old stirrings (while his wife sat there in an agony of embarrassment, I realized later). And he phoned me a few times after that wanting to get together, but I was still mourning BAMBND and I just didn't wanna.

He is a brand new widower at this time. A week ago I got a short e-mail from 2nd sister that they are in love, he’s been phoning every day and spending every weekend with her and they will probably get married in the spring.

Dammit!!! Once again, she has won! And me with no more magic pills.

1 comment:

DavidShag said...

I actually read this entry the day you tipped me off that you had written but that coincided with the onslaught of a number of family members coming to stay for a few days. I am very sorry for the loss of your mother. It sounds to me that her passing was for her - and even for you - just about the best way to go possible - but I also know that other people's difficult moments always seem easier than one's own. There is no good way to lose a loved one.

I find your family dynamic sad - that someone is always winning and someone else losing. I have realized finally at my old age that the mother and family one member experiences was quite different from that of another. You must let each of your sisters feel about this death however she does. When I am with siblings, I am shocked by the difference in the way they remember things. Things I think were funny are often very painful memories to my sister. Times I remember as happy are, to some of my brothers, rendered quite different by their interpretation of motives involved or of outcome or emphasis on different moments.

I hope your Mother's death is not the end of hearing from you. You are one of the better bloggistas for me, one I look forward to, because you really take time to give context and detail which make every everything you write about interesting. As for your event-free present, I have to say that I love best your tales of past events anyway. You know that I fell in love with you way back on Spaces when I saw that old profile pic where you were the very picture of the sixties gal. I really like to read well-written tales which have come to an end and are written after time to reflect and to gain perspective. What good does it do me to read "I went to the beach" or "I am traveling to Shangri la" if there is no mention of how things turned out, how it looked and felt. THAT is not a blog - it is a tweet. So please search through some more of those old memories and let us keep hearing the Flooz take on things. I am eagerly awaiting something along the lines of how your sister won and you lost that time you won the lottery or whatever. I am already in wild about knowing that having lots of boyfriends was awful and having no boyfriends was awful too. You just rock - some people have a gift!