Today would have been my mom’s 78th birthday.
Last year, Mom was still doing pretty well but the pain that would plague her for the rest of her life had already reared its ugly head. It was not yet the chronic, acute pain that would agonize her final months, but it was a sign that illness had rejoined the family.
I had a feeling this time last year that it would be my mom’s final birthday. At the time I feared the cancer had returned, but hoped it was just another hernia that could be surgically repaired.
My mom on her 77th birthday.
We never did get a confirmation as to whether or not the cancer had returned, thanks to a whole host of roadblocks, from my mother’s surgeon suddenly leaving town, to appointments with the new surgeon getting bumped, to bad winter weather forcing her to cancel appointments. None of the scans that she had performed repeatedly showed a tumor, but by the time a colonoscopy was ordered, she was too weak to have it done.
I’m glad for her last birthday on this earth that I was with her and was able to present her with the Chicken Soup for the Soul book that included my submission which was inspired by my mother. She loved it and read it aloud over and over.
Today I went to an energy healing session. It was a fascinating and insightful experience and I highly recommend it if you feel like you are emotionally overwhelmed or emotionally blocked in some way. I’m an open-minded skeptic when it comes to such things, but the insights provided gave me plenty of food for thought and self-improvement tips for the mind, spirit and body.
I had a bit of a scare last night. I called my mom for our Wednesday night chat, and she told me she was not doing well. Mom, as you know if you’ve read some of my other posts, is the eternal optimist, so this was a really bad sign. She had told me Sunday night about how they were painting the exteriors of the condos and the fumes were really bad. Combined with this is the smoke from the wildfires that are burning through New Mexico and Colorado right now. Those two things seemed to have triggered a serious reaction.
After we talked Sunday night, she started to feel worse and vomited four or five times overnight. She said there was “brown flecks” in the vomit, which made me really worry. Anyone that has had to deal with serious illness knows that vomit that looks like coffee grounds can be a bad sign, as it usually means old blood. It could be something manageable, like an ulcer, or it could be a cancerous tumor. Or is it just a by-product of breathing in noxious fumes?
Mom went to the doctor thankfully and had some tests done and should get the results back shortly. When Dad was alive and well, if Mom every complained about a health issue (which was rare, Mom’s pretty tough), Dad would say, “Do you want me to take you to the doctor?”
Now there’s no one to take her. I’m over 1,300 miles away. Mom even said that if it’s her time, she’s ready to go. I know she means it. I know she misses Dad desperately and is very lonely. Still, a selfish part of me doesn’t want to lose both of my parents within a year.
Even though my dad’s teeth were in pretty bad shape, I don’t remember him going that often to the dentist. He was the typical guy that would wait until the pain was unbearable before he’d go get the problem taken care of. I had plenty of cavities as a kid, but the main things I remember about my childhood dentist, Dr. Friedman, was the taste of the toothpaste (kind of like a berry bubblegum flavor) and the huge wooden chest of dollar store toys that you got to choose from when you completed your visit. So going to the dentist wasn’t traumatic for me at all.
My mom on the other hand, had a ton of problems with her teeth. Dr. Wyland was her dentist, and we made dozens of trips there as a family. While Mom was subject to the dentist’s drill, Dad and I had a blast. This place was the most awesome dentist office ever. First of all, I’ll never forget the giant homemade cookies that were in the waiting area. They were amazing. I always grabbed the chocolate chip, while Dad preferred the oatmeal raisin. I know, free cookies at the dentist? What an easy way to ensure a steady stream of future patients!
There was a soda and coffee machine, so Dad would buy me a Coke and he would get coffee, of course. Then, we went into the movie theatre. That’s right, the dentist office had its own theatre! They showed classic, family-friendly movies and Dad and I would hang out in there until Mom finally emerged, with her mouth all numbed up. Dad would sneak out a couple of times for a smoke break, of course, and he would always have the “usher” keep an eye on me. The usher was an older gentleman with white hair and a moustache. He looked a bit like Wilford Brimley. Dad liked to chat with him and I was more than content to eat cookies, drink soda and watch movies all afternoon long.
The dentist practice has changed names, but it still exists!
It’s crazy, but these trips to the dentist were enjoyable for me and my dad. I’m sure Mom would remember quite a different version of events.
I have not told my mom yet about The Memories Project as she has a lot on her plate right now, and my mom is about the least tech-savvy person I know, so it will take a detailed explanation for her to understand what this project is about. She’s proud of her technophobia, which she will happily tell you if she gets the chance. In fact, she came up with a little ditty that she would tell all of the nurses and caregivers that were assisting my dad when he was alive. It goes like this:
Don’t text, read a textbook instead.
Don’t Google, giggle instead.
Don’t Twitter, leave it to the birds.
I told her she should get it copyrighted.
Anyways, my mom and I were talking the other night, and out of the blue she asked, “Do you remember how your dad loved to sing in the shower? It was usually some Irish tune, like ‘Danny Boy.’ He had such a good voice.”
That really threw me for a loop, as I had just written about this small but distinct memory about the shower the week before on this blog. It made me feel that there is some kind of deep connection there, whether one wants to call it psychic or not. Most of the time I’d like for mom to stay out of my head but in this case, it struck me as a very special moment.