Friday, February 6, 2009

LUCY, MOTHER EXTRAORDINAIRE


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.








39 comments:

Midlife Slices said...

Oh my dear friend, now I know the reason for your down day. I wish I could hug you and make the puddles dry up. But mostly I wish I could have know your precious Lucy. She was obviously a wonderful mother and a beautiful person inside and out. Embrace this day and the good memories because if your memories weren't so dear and precious, this would just be "another day". Love you, girl!

nothingfancy1 said...

I'm thinking of you today. Thank you for sharing these wonderful memories of your Mom.

I also lost my Mom to cancer 5 1/2 years ago. Like Lucy, when Mom found out she had cancer, she said "Great...now all my hair can fall out and it will grow back in nice and thick and curly. AND I'll lose all that weight without even trying."

I miss her too. And I know how difficult the anniversaries are. I hope today is a day filled with wonderful memories of your time with your Mom.

only a movie said...

Thank you for sharing such a lovely story. I hope you have some peace today and a lot of good memories.
I know how hard anniversaries can be.

Jan said...

It sounds like your mother was an extraordinary woman. I agree with Janie - embrace this day and the memories.

(((BIG Hugs)))

Joan said...

And you tell it so well!

LiLu said...

Thank you for sharing this story with us. I'm going to put this nugget of sentiment in my pocket and carry it around with me all day.

:-)

Smart Mouth Broad said...

MLS-Thank you so much and I know that every word you said is true.

Fancy-Lucy also made the comment that her hair would come back in all curly and thick. She actually didn't really lose her hair due to the type of chemo that she had. So no Pacers and no thick curls. *sigh* I know that you know how I feel. Thanks for everything.

Movie-Anniversaries are hard but it's good to remember too. Not that I don't do that everyday but still.....
Thanks.

Jan-Thanks, She was. And I will. Thanks for the hugs.

Joan-It's so nice of you to say that. I think she would have liked it. (except maybe the part about her bum flapping in the breeze) *wink*

Lilu-Thank you so much. I know you treasure your own mom.

The Blue Ridge Gal said...

Big hug to you Smart Mouth. It's hard to lose a parent, but in time the pain of the loss just softens into beautiful memories. She sounds as though she was quite the gal.

Di
The Blue Ridge Gal

thyme said...

Your mother was a beautiful person, to be able to maintain a sense of humour while in so much pain. Maybe she knew that she was getting you the case, but she didn't want to embarass you by saying it with so many words.

Tricia said...

I don't know what to say so I'm going to send you lots of virtual hugs!!

smiles4u said...

What a beautiful post about your Lucy...and such beautiful life lessons too...ones that we all need to remember! I just want to give you a giant hug right now so sending them to you virtually will have to do...((((((HUGS))))) and much love, Lori

Debbie said...

What a loving tribute to a wonderful mother. Thank you for sharing this with us.

Wunderwoman said...

Your post brought tears to my eyes, what a wonderful memories you have of her:) My mom passed away 20 yrs ago, from cancer too, we didn't have the close relationship like you and your mom, I wish we had.

Debra said...

What a lovely story. It deeply touched me.

blueviolet said...

That was such a lovely story and I know the pain never goes away, does it? You adjust to the loss but you never forget. (((hugs)))

Fragrant Liar said...

Hey, SMB. Warmest wishes to you on this anniversary date. I can't even imagine the ache of losing a parent, since I still have both of mine. I love hearing about your mom, as she sounds like a real character. I bet I'd have loved her, and I also bet that her spirit runs deeply through you, which is why you, too, are a character.

Best,
KJ

goodbadandugly2 said...

wow thanks 4 sharing this!

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

Oh SMB, my heart goes out to you today. I love your Lucy stories - you keep her memory alive with your love and with your generous sharing of her through your stories.

Big hugs from Hawaii.

Stepping Thru said...

I love your Lucy stories and know that her memory will bring you both tears and laughter as the years go by. What a treasure you were given. Bless your heart! (Couldn't resist.)

Mona said...

I have never met you, probably never will, but you are becoming so dear to me.
I remember once when I could not seem to come out of my grief after their father died..Sandy said "Where's my mother?" in such desperation and sadness that I snapped out of it as best I could ...for them. I made myself get up and get dressed and try to act normal. Eventually, with time the going through the motions became easier.
What a sad week this has been.
I admit I am tempted to delete this...but I am not going to.

Mona said...

I hope my daughters love me half as much as you loved your mother.

Smart Mouth Broad said...

Thanks, everyone, for your kind words of encouragement and cheer. I love you all.

Debra-Thank you for stopping by and I do hope you'll come back and visit and again.

Ginger said...

Hi, I was introduced to you by Jan, over at Jan's Sushi Bar. I'm glad I wandered in. I just lost a very strong, important woman to me last October, my grandmother, Gladys. Your post brought tears to my eyes. I think Gladys and Lucy would have been great friends.

Reader Wil said...

This is the greatest tribute that you could give to your mother. She must have been quite some lady and so are you!

Twenty Four At Heart said...

What a touching story. My heart aches for you. I am so close to my own mother and I know when I lose her I will never, ever recover. You brought tears to my eyes. Hugs!

T5M said...

What a great post, I love your mom (I almost wrote I love Lucy - but that had a whole different meaning). I love the underwear bit. I think that's good advice, who wants someone riffling through their underwear drawer when they're gone. Better get that sucker cleaned up by someone you trust.

Smart Mouth Broad said...

Ginger-Thanks so much for stopping by. I hope you'll visit again. I'm sorry for you loss but if your grandmother was anything like my mom, you'll have many memories to keep you company.

RW-Thank you so much and yes, she was.

24-Sorry 'bout that. :-) Thanks for the hugs.

T5M-Thanks. I know what you mean but I was most the most likely candidate to go thru her things. I guess she just wanted to be sure. Good thing to remember, huh. :-)

Tessa said...

My condolences for your loss, SMB. Your mother sounds like a strong, wonderful woman. And methinks the seed did not fall far from the tree ...

Beth Niquette said...

Oh, dear. I'm so sorry. We have also had deep losses in our family and circle of friends. So many people on both sides of the family, and good friends have all flown away to heaven over the past six years. I have a terrible hatred of cancer. I am grieved for you and with you, dear one.

By the way, thank you for the funny comment on the swamp thing. You made my day. ((hugs))

JeanMac said...

What a story - sending you a hug. Glad you have such wonderful memories of your Mom.

Diana said...

What a great story! Total warms my heart. :)

Vodka Mom said...

I lost my mom when she was 48 and I was 26. I've never gotten over it.

peace be with you on this day- and all the others.

Beth said...

I don't even know you but I have tears in my eyes. What an amazing story and an awesome tribute to your mother.

My dad died of cancer when he was 36 and I was 12. I still have a lot of memories of him and I do miss him and I miss all the opportunities he missed with me (graduation, college, marriage, grandchildren, divorce, etc).

My heart aches for you.

suz Broughton said...

I am new to your blog. I stumbled across it blog-bouncing.
What a beautiful tribute to you mom! What a great story. You are so fortunate to have a mom like that. Thanks for sharing. I can imagine it is difficult, but look at all the people you touched.
Suz

Smart Mouth Broad said...

Tessa-Thanks so much. I consider that the highest compliment.

Beth N-It's hard but it's also great to have the memories.

JeanMac-Thank you so much.

Diana-And you can use the warmth too. *smile*

VM-It gets easier and it doesn't. (if that makes any sense)

Beth-Thank you for your very kind words and for stopping by. I hope you'll come back again soon.

Suz-Thank you, she was the BEST! And thanks for visiting. Do come back again.

Jason, as himself said...

This made me think about when my mother was dying of cancer, too.

Your mom sounds like she was a little spitfire! I'm sorry she's gone, but I'm glad you have those lessons and memories.

Smart Mouth Broad said...

Jason, she was something else, believe me.

thistle said...

Sorry i missed this on the day that it was posted, but i think you did just honour her memory with this lovely post.

Keep thinking about the happy memories, as that seem to be what Lucy would have wanted....

binks said...

Oh what an amazing tribute to such a wonderful mom and woman. It is truly heartbreaking when you lose a parent. I am so sorry for your loss.