My family week in review July 12, 2015 – July 18, 2015
Mom didn’t arrive from Georgia until Monday evening on the 13th.
I seen her walking toward our parked vehicle. I was so excited as I hurried to try to make my way out of our van to the tiny form in a distance. Kharisma reached her before I did. As I continued to approach, I saw my Grandma. Suddenly, I thought I might be in a dream within a dream. When I hugged her for the first time, I really did hug them both in the flesh. I could feel the energy. For the initial embrace it was only my grandma (my moms mom) I was holding onto, who I had my arms wrapped around. This little woman was hugging me back tightly, but I wasn’t understanding where mom was and in the same instance, by and from grandma, I could feel the energy transfer, I was given my mother. And the tears rained. As sudden as they fell, they retreated. Mom was right there. If I was dreaming, I had woken.
My mom has lost over 100 pounds. She’s been in kidney failure for a couple of years now, but is not going forward with dialysis. The bottom of her heart is dead, the reason for the emergency pacemaker placement just weeks ago. I’ve been trying to find a way to get to Georgia, but prevented by obstacles. With my daughter’s diagnosis, they planned to try to come to us instead. Mom wouldn’t postpone. Dad got her here.
Mom hadn’t been back in Sacramento in 12 years. She had planned a visit that turned out to be for the funeral of her sister, instead. My Auntie’s passing July 17, 2003. My uncle took her off life support to relieve suffering on their wedding anniversary.
It is overwhelming to create so many new and wonderful memories with your mama, yet at the same time try to cope with the ache, heartbreak and understanding that forever is right now.
When I was a teen, my dad was diagnosed with lung cancer. He was 47, I was 15. He had a partial lung removed. Eventually recovered. He made it the 5 years. Suddenly it returned so aggressive by the time it was found it had eaten his ribs and broke through his posterior chest wall. 5 weeks from the time we learned it came back, to his death. By this time, I was 22. My mom and dad were managing a motel in Chico CA. I was driving back and forth from West Sacramento to Chico, 2-3 times a week. Instead of putting my dad in a home to pass away, I had him transported by ambulance to my and my husband’s home with our 2 little daughters, ages 2 and 3. Hospice came in to help me. We turned our living room into a hospital room of sorts. A hospital bed, trapeze, hoist. My dad was already paralyzed from the waist down due to the cancer. I was his caregiver. Both of theirs really. Both mom and dad. He was a no code. I remember in the hospital when they were discussing his options, I wasn’t having him going to a care facility to die. And I knew already in my young life how it must feel to have to go away, be sent away just to die somewhere unfamiliar. I told him I would take care of him, both of them. His wall came down and he said “there is no place I would rather be than to be with you”. There was no place I rather them be then with me, too. My dad raised me strict. I never defied him. So when he was adamant about his “no code” I had to be so very strong to uphold his wishes. The hardest thing I ever did was let him go. Loosen his gripping hands from the hospital bed rails, close his eyes, whisper in his ear I loved him, that I kept my promise, that I would see him again one day, crisscross his arms over his chest and lay him to rest before I woke my mom who was asleep beside him on the couch.
When I brushed my fingers across her shoulder and said “Ma”, she knew. I can still remember the screams. My neighbors brought coffee. We notified family to come see him before the coroner came to take him. My husband and his own dad did all the work to get my dad his 21 gun military salute. A precious memory in itself because my husbands dad passed away 10 months later, and my husbands mama a year after that.
There was family who was upset at me. Why didn’t I call 911? Why would I do that. Well, why did my dad put it on me to honor his wishes? Because he knew someone else would have him revived just to have to die again. I not only honored him, but the law. So in all those why’s to me, why would I not gift this man the last thing he asked for?
And yes, I almost did start CPR. I almost did call, I almost let him down.
It’s not for the person we do these things it’s for ourselves. It’s selfish to force someone alive because we can’t bear to lose them.
We took care of my dad at our expense. All the equipment was provided as lenders from Hospice. Food, special food, like ensure (or equivalent), popsicles, toiletries, lotions for his legs, electricity all those extra’s. Paid for it all. Never applied for a caregiver allowance. In his last days, he couldn’t eat, or drink. So I did little things to try to entice him. Licks of popsicles, milkshakes, if even a baby spoon full. His tongue was so raw, he couldn’t really swallow. His bottom was so full of bleeding sores he was embarrassed for me to change his diapers. Mom would do most of that part, so he could keep his dignity. So his daughter wouldn’t have to see private parts. I think he was trying to save mine, too. It usually takes awhile for bed sores to form. For him and the extent of the cancer through out his body it was really awful.
My mom continued to live with us. She wouldn’t get up. All she knew was my dad. They were together since she was 19. I had to go back to work. Bills needed to be paid. I had to let the pursuit of my acting career go. I had just graduated from JRP Talent earlier that year. I was really on my way. Family first. Family remained first, I went back to work at Eppie’s Restaurant in West Sac then to Huey’s Diner which was being built from the ground up. Hired on the spot. That’s where my Restaurant Management career started. First as Head waitress, then as shift supervisor, assistant manager and then General Manager. I made it to GM in less than a year. I was barely 24. I started at Eppie’s when I was 18. I’ve worked at Eppie’s 4 times, and Huey’s twice. Both of them for a time being.
I was finally able to get mom up and about. She would come up to Eppie’s for coffee. I introduced her to new people. All my people. Work and friends. Encouraged her. Did everything I could to remind her she had to live, go on. One of my customer’s offered her a job across the street from where I worked. Later, she started working at the 49’r Truck Stop. That’s where she was when she had a dream of the past. She was able to find her high school sweethearts mom and from there him. They have been together since and married nearly 18 years now. Mom moved to him in Corcoron CA about 20 years ago. After their marriage they started their life in Georgia. Sometimes when I write about dad I mean dad and sometimes when I write about dad, I mean this dad. It all depends on the context of the share.
This visit is the first time our grandson has met his great grandparents. Even though mom is trying to meet up with her other family while in town too, and dads as well, and I am so very glad they are, they still made it a point to be at ‘Tai’s ball game yesterday. He was so excited.
More to come