Posted by Kathleen Pooler/@kathypooler
Mom, Hope and Miracles
When I featured Lisa Goich and her memoir, 14 Days: A Mother, A Daughter, A Two-Week Goodbye, about her mother’s final days in this post on November 2, I was in the throes of dealing with my own mother’s sudden, terminal illness. Lisa’s message of celebrating life was foremost in my mind. I felt certain I was traveling the same path and was consoled by her story.
Since I shared my grief with you, it is only fair that I share this update.
Last week, my daughter, Leigh Ann and I drove three hours west to see her in the hospital soon after she was admitted for “lung tumors” which turned out to be lymphoma. She was pale, fatigued and weepy, unable to even sit on the edge of her bed without being short of breath. I remembered it well from my own lymphoma diagnosis nineteen years ago.
As we sat near her bed in silence and watched her frail body struggle to breathe, I felt the full realization of the what was before me. Was this it? She is 92 but she has been so happy and vibrant at Brookdale (Assisted Living) for the past three months, attending all the social activities, making new friends and leading a happy, carefree life. Her favorite part was not having to cook.
It happened so fast. Five days prior to this she had left me a message on voice mail that she had a manicure and pedicure and was getting ready to go on a bus ride through the hills surrounding Corning to view the fall foliage. She had a cough but was being treated for bronchitis.
It’s interesting when crisis pays a visit how our minds instantly adjust to the circumstances. My hope that she would pull through this was tempered by the stark reality of her diagnosis and her obvious physical decline. I began searching for consolation in the fact that she had had three good months at Brookdale where she proclaimed her happiness every time I spoke with her.
She called Leigh Ann and I closer. Leigh Ann leaned against her side rail and I sat on the other side of her bed. We held hands as she insisted we say our final goodbyes.
“It’s time,” she said, resolved and stoic,” I’ve lived a wonderful life, have no regrets. I can’t live forever. This is my gift to you.”
How does one say goodbye to a mother who has always been there? Lisa did it with grace. So many of you have done it. I’ve had Mom for longer than most and yet why does it still seem incomprehensible?
We were speechless, tears streaming. I sat there frantically searching for the words to say but all I could muster was,
“Thank you for being such a wonderful mother.”
“Well, thank you,” she said, “that means a lot to me.”
Pausing briefly she then began rattling off a litany of orders,
“Now I want the black sequined dress. It’s in the upstairs closet and NO flowers. I want donations to The Wounded Warriors and St Jude Children’s Hospital.”
She was a Queen on her thrown, orchestrating her final wishes.
“Now, I want to go.” she said, hesitated and shook her head,”I don’t understand why I am still here.”
“But, Mom, that’s up to God.” I said in a moment of clarity.
“Well, I suppose you’re right.”
With that we held hands, asked for the strength to accept God’s will and prayed the Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be.
“OK,” she said, nodding and looking into my eyes, ”I promise I’ll give myself a chance.”
A few days after that she worsened and we were all summoned to her bedside. We prepared ourselves for the worst but continued to hope for the best.
Over the next few days, by the grace of God, an exceptional and very optimistic doctor, compassionate nursing care, the power of prayer and love and her own strength and resilience, she began to improve.
Eleven days after being admitted to the hospital, she was transferred to a skilled nursing facility for short-term rehab before returning back to her beloved Brookdale where her adoring fans, her new “tribe”, await her return.
In their communication with the skilled nursing facility, the hospital nurse reported,
“She is a 92 year-old in a 70-year-old body.”
Every day is a gift and none of us knows when our time is up. We thank God, and her wonderful doctor and nurses for the gift of more time…however long it may be.
Most of all, we thank you, Mom, for giving yourself a chance. You are our inspiration!
Hope matters and miracles do happen… I have no doubt I witnessed one.
How about you? Have you ever experienced a miracle, something beyond your greatest expectations?
I’d love to hear from you. Please leave your comments below~
Monday, 11/16/15″ “An Easy Guide to Meditation by Charlene Jones”