Today is the five year anniversary of the day my mother, Lucy, died. (If you're new to this blog, I should explain that Lucy was not her real name) Oh, God, I miss her. There were so many things that I wanted to do today to honor her memory but now that the day is here………I'm struggling just to keep it together. I'm in a puddle and let me tell you this: Lucy would have NONE of that. She would give me a swift kick in the arse and say, "SNAP OUT OF IT!"
When Lucy was told that her cancer had spread to her lymph nodes and she would have to have chemotherapy treatments. Do you know what the first thing out of her mouth was? "Great! Maybe I'll lose my hair and they'll let me play for the Pacers." Apparently she had some confusion about the qualifications required to be drafted into the NBA. However, if allowed to join the team, she would have made a huge contribution to turning around their reputation. And I'm sure that some of them would most certainly have gotten a swat with that belt she kept in a kitchen drawer for just that purpose. Life lesson #1: When life gives you lemons………give 'em the raspberries!
When it became clear that the chemotherapy was not working, Hospice was called in. The local Hospice organization has a strict policy that a new patient will be visited within twenty-four hours of being admitted to the program. An appointment was set for 2pm the next afternoon. We received a call around 1:50pm that the Hospice nurse was running a little late with another patient and wouldn't be able to be there until 4pm. Lucy, who was in a great deal of pain at the time, knowing that the nurse would bring relief, said, "Tell her to come tomorrow. The Cubs are playing at 4 and I'm not going to miss it." They stressed that it is their policy to visit the patient within twenty-four hours but Lucy didn't care about their policies. The Cubs were were going to the playoffs. Life lesson #2: A girl's gotta have her priorities.
A few weeks later out of the blue, Lucy asks me to go through her underwear drawer and throw everything away. At that point she was wearing a hospital gown and couldn't tolerate the elastic of panties around her waist. I thought this was a little odd. But I did it. As I look back this was the only time that Lucy came close to acknowledging to any of us that she wasn't going to survive the battle. I have no idea why it was so important to her to take care of this little task when there were so many more important things to do but this was her wish. I was happy to indulge her in whatever gave her any pleasure or peace.
Earlier that year, my father had bought Lucy a laptop for her birthday. She got sick shortly after that and had barely used the new computer. At the time, I was travelling to their house every weekend. I would work 4 days and spend the next three at my parents' home. One day she asked me to pick up a case for her laptop. I had no idea why she thought she needed a case but I said that I would get one. Week after week I would travel the 200 miles back and forth. Each week, she would ask if I got the case yet. I told her that I hadn't had time. I was trying to take care of my family in the four days that I was home, work a full-time job and then spend every weekend away from home. It was a little stressful and frankly, I just blew off her request because I KNEW that she had no use for a laptop case. But she persisted. I had to bite my tongue not to snap at her, "Why the hell do you need a case for your damn laptop! You don't even wear underwear!" I had this cartoon vision in my head of her running down the street carrying her briefcase and wearing her hospital gown with her bum flapping in the breeze.
Eventually Lucy's pain became so uncontrollable that she was admitted to the Hospice Care Center. This was the best thing that could have happened. Having 24 hour care to control her pain was exactly what she needed.
I drove up the day she was admitted. Feeling a little guilty, I stopped along the way to pick up the laptop case she wanted. She had been very specific about what to get too. She wanted lots of pockets to stash things. She wanted slots so that papers could be kept organized. I just looked at her with that "What the…….." look that I'm famous for. Upon my arrival at the care center, I handed her the new case eagerly awaiting the pleasure it would give her. She barely looked at it. She thanked me and said to put it in the closet. She never even looked to see that it had all the features she had requested. I was more than a little confused and disappointed.
We had no idea at the time but the staff at the care center didn't think Lucy would make it through the night. Lucy was a lot of things but predictable was not one of them. She was always full of surprises. That was October 31st.
It's important to point out here that my employer was the driving force that allowed me to neglect my responsibilities and remain with my mother where I belonged. My boss told me that she didn't care what was neglected as long as the money kept coming in so that she could remain in practice. I am responsible for all the billing in our practice. Hospice set me up with an internet connection. Work was faxed, mailed and hand-delivered to me by co-workers and my boss who would drive up to visit my mom. I was able to keep all the billing up to date and the rest……………..well, it just had to wait. Believe me; I know how fortunate I am to be employed by such a loving and generous woman. This is the reason that even when she drives me completely mad, I remain in her employ. Loyalty, compassion and generosity like that are rare.
I didn't own a laptop. Mom's laptop that she had asked for but never used became the sole reason that I was able to remain with her and still fulfill my work responsibilities. And that laptop case………………the one with all the pockets and file slots………………..yeah, that one. It sure came in handy to keep my work organized.
Say what you will, but I believe that was God working through my mother to give me what I needed so that I could do what I had to do. Life lesson #3: Things are not always as they appear.