Hi Mom

Today would be my mom’s 87th birthday.

She isn’t here any more – we lost her at the age of 80 to complications from pancreatic cancer. She hadn’t even started her chemo/radiation yet.  Once night she complained she wasn’t feeling well. Later that night, she woke my dad and told him to call the doctor.  He left the room for a moment, came back and she was gone. Blood clot in the lungs was the informed guess from her physician.

When she died, it was like the center of our world went dark.  For my father, 82 at the time and with myriad health issues, the sun had ceased to shine when his wife of 61 years left him behind.  For us, it was simply astounding.  Mom was the strong one, the capable and steady one.  My father was battling so many health woes – cancer, CHF, kidney failure (caused by the cancer treatment!) and all of the minor ills that come with these major deals.  Mom was his caregiver; the keeper of binders full of test results and physician notes, the one who handled his dietary needs (considerable, for a dialysis patient), kept all of his doctors straight, doled out the drugs.  Sure, my brothers and sister and I helped but she was the rock in the center – all-seeing and all-knowing.

Time to step up.  The next year became a whirlwind of cleaning out, organizing care, communicating with everyone and the very difficult task of helping a truly heartbroken old man find a way back to living again. We had Dad for another 2 1/2 years before finally losing him to a stroke.

I think the crazy whirl of activity helping put my dad back together – and keeping him that way, at least while we could – in some ways blunted the grief I felt for my mom.  Yes, when it first happened and the shock passed, I sobbed. I found myself in tears at the oddest moments for at least a year.  I also found myself on an anti-anxiety medication, but that’s a story for another time.  I expect that some day I’ll have to finish my abbreviated trip through the grief process for Mom.  Days like today, her birthday, and the feelings that have come over me in waves today make that apparent.  It’ll come.  In the meantime, I miss you Mom. I still need you.

My mom at age 78, with her new kitten CoCo.  Coco now lives with me.

My mom at age 78, with her new kitten CoCo. Coco now lives with me.

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10 thoughts on “Hi Mom

  1. Pingback: What makes a redhead a redhead? My adventures in haircolor. | Here Be Dragons

  2. Reblogged this on Here Be Dragons and commented:

    This past July 9 was the 7th anniversary of my Mom’s passing. In honor of that, I’m reblogging an old post of mine I wrote back on her birthday (back when I had like 2 readers). Thanks for listening!

  3. Wow Teri, the death of our parents is so similar. Except Dad was the rock and Mom’s caregiver. We lost him first and then Mom 7 months later. Your post really brought up some sad memories. I have a very hard time on the anniversaries of their deaths and especially their birthdays, because mine is March 5th and Mom’s was March 10th and Dad’s was March 12th. I don’t like my birthday at all anymore! I feel your pain and send you a loving hug!
    Bets

  4. You’re a wonderful,loving daughter. I can relate to your abbreviated grief. I have yet to really let myself grieve from Carolyn’s death(5 yrs ago). I was the executor and sole benefactor of her estate and that was a grueling experience-with a full range of emotions included. I tend to compartmentalize and the letting go or expressing emotion was not in one of my compartments at the time. I did do a good amount of crying, tears of extreme sadness, to tears of utter frustration, to tears of survior guilt. For me, I felt so very unworthy of receiving all her possessions of her life. I had tremendous guilt for a very long time. She was so brilliant and worked so hard to achieve all that she had, it just seemed like I wasn’t worthy to receive it all. But, ill never forget what my mother said to me at one of my weakest moments-she said, ” Susan, she loved you the most out of anyone she knew and loved you bc you are you. She knew you could handle it all.” It is so hard to have to be the “person in charge” the “strong one” all the time , but yet on the other hand it can be very rewarding to be able to comfort others who are struggling. I tend to keep my inner struggles to myself and in rare quiet moments, I do let myself quietly grieve in my own way. Hugs to you Teri. I love and miss you.

  5. When my dad died 12 yrs ago, it was so hard bc he suffered so much from his pancreatic cancer and congestive heart failure. Like your mother, my mother was his caregiver as well. It was so difficult to watch a vibrant and intelligent man dwindle down to a weak and small old man. I’ll never forget the sounds of his extremely labored breathing. For a long long time I couldn’t boil water because that sound was the sound he made as he tried to breath. The pancreatic cancer is a wicked one. It grows quickly as my father died 6 months to the day exactly when he was diagnosed with it. I was lucky enough to be at home with dad for the last few months of his life. I held him in my arms as he took his final breath. I feel like he knew he was safe and could go be with God bc his last breath was followed by a peaceful and gentle sigh. I was tasked with being the “one in charge” and “the strong one” as my mother was grieve stricken and so very tired, and my sister was also experiencing the same. I put my emotions on the back burner at the time and it was years later before I could let myself grieve.

    • Boy do I hear you. I was with my dad and my MIL when they passed. So quiet, so peaceful. One moment they were there, one moment they weren’t. I wasn’t there in time to be with my mom. I think, because my father’s passing was so anticipated, it was in some ways easier. He’d been sick for years. We came close to losing him so many times. The last illness, his stroke, was so devastating to him physically that his death was a choice – I signed the hospice papers and he was gone a few days later. (when hospice started, dialysis stopped so it wasn’t long.) While I grieved, yes, and miss him so much, it was in many ways a relief because I knew that his suffering was over and he was back with my mom. The last few days he was with us, he couldn’t speak, really. I’m not sure if he knew who we were or where he was. However, he spent those days, from time to time, looking off into the distance and saying “Mary”. Over and over. Mom was there.

      Mom was different. She hadn’t started her treatment yet. It was sudden, brutal and wrenching. I understand that pancreatic treatment is horrid and the end is always the same – painful – so while I can be grateful she didn’t have to go through that, I still wish we’d had more time to get used to the idea. It still hurts and I still miss them both.

  6. My mom has been gone 9 years. It does get better. You will continue to miss her but you will start remembering the joys more often and the awful time leading to your mom’s death less. I used to get very anxious two weeks before the anniversary of her death. Now it has stopped. Hang in there.

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