I was seventeen the first time my mom nearly died. She had a reaction to a medication that left her in a hospital for issues for days. It was ultimately decided that chronic pancreatitis was the culprit of the long term side effects. I remember my dad waking me past midnight, “your is mom sick. We are going to the hospital. You can go with us now or stay and go to school”. My dad has a particular way of speaking when things are serious that I hadn’t heard until then or don’t remember hearing until then. My mom was in and out of hospitals from that point until we began using holistic healthcare.
There were surgeries and ICU stays and her being fine and then ten minutes later her not being fine. I was pretty well grown and knew there was a possibility she’d be missing from our lives for a few days with little notice. We grew used to it as a family and we coped. The first time she had stayed in ICU and had an extended hospital stay I went to visit her and stay with her on a school day that I knew I wouldn’t have any makeup work if I had missed. My dad took me and dropped me off before he went to work at five am. I went to sleep next to her hospital bed and when she woke up she was so angry I had missed school. I was a senior and I knew it was a day I’d have little to do anyway. She let me know that from now on when she was sick she wanted me to work and go to school and keep my dad’s clothes washed and the dishes done and so on and so forth. We just dealt with it. All of us dealt. I lived next door to my aunt and cousins and neighbors that were like family that I’m sure were aware I may be alone for a bit and watched out for me.
Once a nurse told my dad while they stood over my mom, a tube in her nose to suction the bile from her stomach in liters, bile black as tar, the nurse told my dad he thought mom would pull through. I don’t think my dad thought she could die from this until then. Hospital bills arrived in the mail that totaled more than my mortgage pay off right now. My mom was a teacher until she retired and went from a mom who took a personal day here and there for us to spend the day doing whatever to the mom that hoarded her days in case she was sick for weeks. Mentally my mom lived in fear. Her condition caused pain and suffering. She may have to leave from any situation including watching my children. What if we were on vacation and stuck in traffic and she got sick? What if the ER there didn’t understand her condition and didn’t know how to treat it? Or worse, thought she was faking to get pain meds? I found myself looking at my anatomy textbooks. Staring at the pancreas and wondering if hers was scarred from being so inflamed all the time and if those scars would cause cancer and how long would she live with pancreatic cancer? It was a way of life for us.
We did this dance for sixteen years. My mom retired early and I doubt my own children remember her disappearing for days to be in the hospital. The change for us now is immeasurable and it’s because of holistic healthcare. That’s what I do. I teach families how to take control of their own health. However, that’s not what this post is about.
My mom is an amazing woman. When I was a kid she went to college to become a teacher because it was her calling. It wasn’t easy and now I realize how hard it was on her having three kids myself and having been to college. She got a degree. She worked while she completed it. She was a substitute teacher and then basically ran a preschool program until she was hired by the state. As a teacher she was absorbed in her job. She worked early hours and late hours and sometimes brought kids home for the weekend. She has bought kids things they needed with her own money. She retired early to help take care of my remaining grandparents and her grandkids which I’m sure has been a full time job in itself. When my dad lost his job with the coal mines they made rustic furniture and sold it. She began canning and gardening more diligently. When he went back to work she continued some of those endeavors on her own. All the while keeping a grandchild when needed and being a major caretaker for my Mamaw. If I can be half the woman she has been I’ll be doing triple what is typical for a normal woman.
Having been close to losing her so many times I have to tell you. No matter where your mother is, no matter how old or young, no matter what circumstances you think are important when your mom is sick, or tired, or needing you, or hurting you go to her. Even if she won’t remember it, you will. Even if she tells you she is fine you still go to her. Don’t go on vacation. Don’t go out of the country. Don’t miss your chance. She wants to see you care for her like she did you so many times. She wants to know you love her enough to be there. No one else will do. A phone call will not work.
It’s you she wants.
I’m sorry if I’ve offended….wait….this is my site to be honest with and I promised honesty when I began didn’t I?
I’m not sorry. If you’re offended it’s because the shoe fits and you’ve strapped those shoes on and you’re hiking in them. Take those shoes off before it’s too late. Show up on time. Show up for just her. Show up. Let your children see you show up so they know what this love looks like.
As a mom it’s what I’d want from my own kids and as a daughter who is so blessed to have my parents it’s what I’ll do but maybe that’s just me.