Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Visiting Hours

visitinghoursThirty four years ago yesterday, my mother was in a hospital in Charlotte North Carolina. She walked in as a wife and mother to a four year old daughter. Upon admittance, she brought her quick wit, and I am sure she immediately had the nurses doing her bidding as if it was the very thing they were put on earth to do. I can only imagine the pain my mother was in while she was in that hospital in 1976. Medicine was not as advanced back then, but giving birth to a child that was overdue was a relief with or without an epidural. Visitors came from miles and states away to see mom and the new addition to the family. They brought with them well wishes and congratulations. After all, the birth of a child is an exciting time that everyone wants to share. Mom walked out of the hospital with her husband and her two baby girls. She may not have had all of her strength back yet, but she had enough strength stored in her that during the next 34 years she would teach me what it means to be strong.

Yesterday morning I walked into a hospital in Fairfax Virginia. I walked in as a mother to a four and a half year old boy and a three year old boy. I held the hand of a man I have known as my stepfather for the last fifteen years. I thought of my mother as a rode the elevator to her room. I dug in my heels and tried to muster every bit of strength she gave me and I walked in the room she has lived in for over a week. I saw a woman that resembled my mother. Just days ago, this same woman thought Bush was the President and the date was May 2007. I said hello to this woman and she said “hi, baby”. There’s my mom.

I talked to my mom for a couple of hours before her radiation treatment. I tried to get her to stop messing with the stitches where the shunt had been placed in her head. I reminded her, as she has me so many times, to stop picking. I tried to lighten the mood with a joke here and there and at one point my mom flipped me off as her crooked smile curled. She was still in there. As I painted my mom’s fingernails I found myself counting them. I recalled counting the fingers and toes of my boys as I held them in the hospital after delivery and just being happy they were all there. I felt the same way about mom.

As my mother napped after radiation I sat with my stepdad in a small office near mom’s room. The two of us sat across from a doctor that would soon tell us the fate of my mother. The fate of a woman, that in her early 40’s beat breast cancer with one hand tied behind her back. The same woman, that in the last two years, all but beat an unbeatable lung cancer. The same woman that is called mother, sister, wife, daughter, friend and Senior Vice President of Sales.

“The oncology department is no longer going to follow your mother’s case”. “Palliative Care”. “Six Months will be a shock”. “A list of hospice companies”. They will offer my mother 10 radiation treatments and plan to send her home with hospice. There is nothing more they can do for her. The tumor in her brain that has metastasized from her lungs is incurable and due to the critical location is inoperable. Chemo would make her worse and the radiation buys us some time, but no one can tell me how much time.

Each time I visit my mother now, I wonder if it will be the last. Each time she closes her eyes I wonder if she will open them again. Each time someone says I am just like my mother I say thank you.

Like my mother 34 years ago, I walked out of the hospital a different person. I am still a mother, daughter, sister and friend, but I am stronger because of my mother.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

I Pee Near You!

new-year-2010-fireworks-thumb5943912It had to be at least ten years ago. I wasn’t married yet and certainly didn’t have kids. The boys’ dad and I were back in Springfield visiting friends and family for a New Year celebration. As far as I can remember, the evening started as most would have that night. The last thing I remember is being driven through the Taco Bell drive through on the way home. I can’t recall if the person giving us food at the window used English as a second language or if English was my second language for the night. As he handed us our bag of food he gave us his New Year greeting of “I pee near you!”. At first I thought it was just me, since I was after all being the one driven. Once we pulled away from the drive through Brad looked at me somewhat perplexed and asked if I heard the same thing he did. Now you know why you may hear me say “I pee near you!”.  I am giving you a well wishes, not a warning.

I pee near you to you and yours!