(I was originally going to send this as a PM to Rob and Doug, but it just kept growing and growing and perhaps against my better judgment I am posting it in a public thread. As anyone who knows me well can tell you that I really don't reveal a whole lot of personal information but these are different circumstances.)
I don't really know why I am writing this to you other than everyone seems to have gone to sleep and unfortunately I cannot do so. I have known the both of you for at least ten years and even though we have never met in person I consider you both good friends and right now I need to say something to someone so you guys are the defacto choice. You'll have to excuse my rambling.
My mother, after being in the hospital for about a week due to kidney failure and a stroke died Christmas evening. She was only 58 years old and believe you me she was one tough bitch. She was raised by her father primarily and forced to go to Catholic Church by him and a step-mother. Her childhood was tumultuous at best and she left the house at 16 years of age vowing that when she had children of her own she would never force any kind of religion on them (which made it easier for me to adopt my atheist views).
She was married twice: once to an abusive man who caused her to miscarry her first pregnancy when she was in the WAC (Women's Army Corps). She was honorably discharged from the Army in the mid 70's after she had her first stroke. She divorced the first husband (who I met one time as a child, shortly after which she found out that he died) and began college on the GI Bill. This is where she met my father. He knocked her up in December of 1976, they married in April of '77 and I was born in August. My brother and sister (twins) were born in January of 1979. Both pregnancies were performed by cesarean due to health risks.
As hard as it may be to believe (shut up), I was not an easy child to raise. Many were the times I heard stories of how when I was an infant and my siblings babies I would stomp on her feet whenever she gave them the slightest bit of attention. As I got older I became worse and many was the time she received phone calls from the school due to my tyrannic behavior. I tried her patience many a time, but she loved me and I loved her.
I clearly remember the day back in 1985 when she came home from a grocery shopping trip. She loved her iced tea, but was pounding back pitchers of the stuff on a daily basis. On the paper bags they had a list of the symptoms of Diabetes. One of them was an increased thirst: drinking liquids much more than normal. I tugged on her pant leg and pointed the bag and said "Mommy I think you have Diabetes". It turned out I was right.
She struggled with the Diabetes for the rest of her life. When I was 17 or 18 my parents divorced. I was relieved as their fighting was the norm. The Diabetes worsened and she had other maladies including a weakened heart and failing eyesight. She continued on though, moving from Meriden CT to Virginia Beach VA in 2000 after her children were grown. Whenever I had faltered to the point where I needed to come "home" her door was always open to me. Recently I returned home again, but not so much for me but for her. She now needed a cane to get around and was in so much pain from so many ailments she was taking 60mg of Morphine a day (1 30mg pill in the morning and one at night) and Hydrocodone throughout the day when needed. Anybody that knows anything about Morphine and Hydrocodone will tell you that they are both opiates and she was taking a lot of them.
Mom had a couple of episodes recently in regards to her insulin. The V.A. Hospital had switched her to a fast acting insulin and if she did not have her dinner right at the ready when she took her shot she would go into insulin shock. The first time I called 911 and the second time my brother did (I wasn't home at the time), but the third and final time I knew what to do and got her out of it without calling.
Sometime last week she couldn't get out of bed. I suffer from severe migrane headaches from time to time and had fallen asleep very late that night (actually I hardly get much sleep these days, as the erratic time stamps on my recent postings will indicate) and woke up in time to see the ambulance, with my brother riding up front, pulling out of the driveway. We learned that she had gone into kidney failure and was put on dialysis and had suffered what I believe was a third stroke. Diabetes is the #1 cause of kidney failure. The first time I called her she was unable to talk but slowly she was getting better. When she was talking again her speech was noticeably slurred but it appeared as though she was getting her faculties about her. She was worried about her car payment (which we took care of) and wanted to come home.
Mom called me yesterday from the hospital and informed me she was ready to come home. Perhaps I was overly optimistic but I rushed over expecting her to be up and ready to go. When I got there I found her in her hospital bed with a catheter and colostomy bag attached and something to give her sodium phosphate, which was to help perform the functions her kidneys were no longer doing. My heart sank but I kept a strong face. I told her she was not ready to come home. She said she had been there for three days; I told her it was almost a week and today was Christmas Eve. I returned home disheartened that she was not coming with me especially since I knew she wanted nothing more than to do so.
Earlier today I called her at the hospital. I had thought about going to see what with it being Christmas and all but I knew it wouldn't do any good because she was so out of it she had no idea what day it was and we were due for a good snowstorm. She thanked me for getting a hold of her older brother Robert; he had called her earlier and she was glad to have heard from him. He was the last of her relatives I had found contact info for. He and his wife sent her a Christmas card and I went ahead and opened it in the hopes that his phone number would be inside. She then told me she was very tired and needed to get some rest. I told her that I love her and she told me the same.
Around 8pm I got a call from the hospital. The doctor said she had a heart arrhythmia and they tried everything they could and asked me to come to her hospital room. I told my brother, then phoned my sister, who bawled uncontrollably. Jodi (my sister) kept asking if I was kidding, that she had spoken with Mom earlier and she seemed fine. I reassured her that unfortunately that was not the case; Mom had passed away. She was in hysterics and I heard other voices so I asked her to hand the phone to someone else. I told her friend Alan what had happened and asked him to look after her since I still had to go to the hospital. He told me that he would and handed the phone back to her and she talked to Jeff (brother) a bit before hanging up.
Luckily I didn't have to be the lone harbinger of bad news on Christmas 2010. Jeff phoned my 83 year old grandmother (my mother's mom) and she and my Aunt that lives with her told the rest of their family while Jodi called my father. I made it to the hospital, it was snowing as predicted but the drive there is a blur right now, and found my way to room 220. The door was closed so I opened and walked inside expecting the doctor or somebody to be waiting for me and advise me on what it is I am supposed to be doing. This is the first time I am someone's immediate next of kin. Instead I found her in the bed looking as though she were asleep except for the fact that she was not breathing.
I poked my head out of the door and into the hallway to see if I can find a doctor or nurse and two of them came up to me looking like they were going to cry and asked if I wanted them to come in with me. I said "that's ok", not really knowing if I meant "that's ok come on in" or "that's ok I can do this alone". They came in and they both looked so sad...I have been the strong one throughout this ordeal. Both my brother and sister were having a tough time coping and I had to be strong for them. Now it was just me, two strangers, and my dead mother in a hospital bed. I bawled and bawled hard as the nurses hugged me and handed me tissues. They left me alone for awhile and I sat with Mom silently weeping for a bit, then swearing as I am wont to do. I looked at her and for some strange reason said "get up Mom, it's time to go". I then cried and cursed a little more as I went to the nurses desk and asked them if they knew what I was supposed to do.
They asked me if I knew what she wanted; at the time my mind was still jolted from the unexpected shock of walking in on her dead body that I had forgotten what she wanted so they said they would keep her there for the day and call me tomorrow. I went back to her room to say a final "goodbye", kissed her on the forehead and told her I loved her before somehow coming back home with the stuff she had with her at the hospital. On the top of the pile in the bag were her glasses...glasses that I am going to keep. I called my father and he reminded me that she wanted a military funeral, which luckily the V.A. will pay for. Even though they have been divorced for 15-16 years and he has long since remarried he still loved her and was taking it hard. At around 11:30 the organ donation people called, Mom had always said they can have anything they can use once she died and was listed as such so I answered some questions. I then instant messaged my girlfriend (who is Deaf so I can't call her) and let her know.
Some people may ask I'm contemplating a conversion at this time or hoping my mother is "in a better place. The answer is no, and in a way she is. The nurses assured me that she did not die painfully, and now the pain she lived with has ceased. I have no clue why I am writing this, perhaps it is cathartic and slightly self-indulgent. Why I am posting this? I have no clue. All I know is that a writer writes and that's about all I can do at the moment. I apologize for being so scatterbrained and applaud anyone who actually read the whole thing. I would also like to thank Rob for giving me the forum to this and also for being about as good an online friend as one can get. The same goes for Doug, Brent and anyone who I may be missing at the moment.
Mary A. Kane
Also, although it is VERY cliche I advise everyone to hug or call your mother if she is still around, or someone close and dear to you and tell them that you love them.