Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Lovebird Syndrome

My family got a taste earlier this year of what life would be like without my mother. In April, she took an extended holiday in England with my nephew, who had sacrificed the previous year of his life helping her take care of my father. With the exception of the post card with a picture of the Cutty Sark on it (that she sent to my son), we had no communication with her for over a month. No deep conversations, no delicious meals, no wine. It sucked street-disease ridden hobo ass (that means I did not like it even a little bit).

The trip was a de facto reward for my nephew's efforts (and a salve for his heart, after what was an unimaginably horrible experience watching his PopPop waste away and die from what doctors suspected was ALS). He had been wooing a young lady on-line, et cetera, for about two years; my parents wanted to be a part of their meeting in person. My father had made my mother promise to accompany my nephew there, as soon as she got her bearings after he died. I'm sure he had hoped it also would be a pleasant distraction for her.

Nothing was thoroughly pleasant for Mommy after Daddy died; so much of her died with him that nothing on Earth could fill the void. (This is the part where being selfish and having a major inferiority complex hurt me; what am I, Mommy? Chopped liver, post-digestion, oozing from some bum's bum??? Perhaps something lower than that...)

During her vacation, after a day trip to France, Mommy got a terrible UTI that knocked her on her ass for the better part of a week. My nephew's girlfriend took the best care of her, solidifying her place in my family's heart (she was a shoo-in before that). When Mommy finally got back from her long (two-month) absence from Louisiana, she was not well. She blamed the jet lag and residual effects of the UTI for her exhaustion and discomfort.

The middle of June found Mommy, my nephew and me on a road trip to Georgia to attend my brother's wedding. All went well with that, but after we returned, Mommy was still not feeling right. We celebrated her 66th birthday June 29th; she went to the doctor the next day and learned that she had cancer. It was either ovarian or pancreatic in origin; regardless of which it was, it was spreading uncontrollably. Doctors believed they could treat her, but the outlook was grim.

Mommy went into the hospital sometime in late July; my family soon got a taste of what life would be like with her suffering. It was even worse than I remembered life without her being. She held on long enough for my brother and two of my sisters to get here and say their "goodbyes." She died Tuesday morning with them at her side; she had nothing more to sacrifice.


Lieutenant Ilia said...

This was gut-wrenching to read. My condolences to you and your family.

captain corky said...

Thank you for sharing this, Peter.

My grandma Katie who was 90 pounds at best and had her own fair share of medical conditions including a heart condition died within months after taking care of my very sick Grandfather.

She stopped taking her meds right after he died. She was done. It was over.

I remember sitting with her on the couch and talking with her a few months before she died. She could barely see me because she was going blind. I don't remember the specifics of what we talked about but I'm very comforted by the fact that I got to spend such quality time with her before she left us.

Peter said...

Thank you, Ilia, for your kind words. My siblings and I get to revisit the pain in several weeks, when we will gather here to attend services (not a funeral), divvy up keepsakes and other loot, and scatter my parents' ashes where they had instructed us to. Particularly rough will be seeing the two sisters who were unable to make it here to tell Mommy goodbye (and thanks and I love you and you're the best mother ever.) I hope they will find some solace in the fact that the rest of us told her and made sure she knew they felt the same way.

Lieutenant Ilia said...

The only thing I can think of to say other than "my condolences" is that your parents still live on, through you and your siblings. For example, if you find yourself saying something that your parents said all the time.
(In my case, it's my grandma saying "OY!" every time I get up from sitting on the floor.)

Peter said...

Thanks again, Ilia. I trust that you didn't take my earlier expression of gratitude as one of my usual snarky remarks. I try to find a way to make every situation I find myself in a "laughing matter" (more on that turn of phrase later). This was one that proved virtually impossible to make light of. (Maybe more on that later as well...)

I will say that Jesus loves you, if only vicariously through me (et alia). Ha Ha!

P.S. I have been looking forward eagerly to additional posts from you; Corky gave you an introduction that raised my (and probably others') expectations considerably. Please do not disappoint us.

Anonymous said...

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Lieutenant Ilia said...

Disappoint you? Now I have stage fright.
Jesus doesn't like us Jews, didn't we kill him or something? ;-)

Anonymous said...

God bless, P. I know exactly where you are at right now. Hope you guys can bring the kids to Alabama for pics soon. A welcome distraction for all of us.