I was sitting at home watching Law & Order SVU. I had just finished dinner and had an ice pack on my foot (the broken one). I received a call from my mom-Gabrielle, a part of me wanted to ignore it not out of selfishness or hatred but out of emotional salvation.
It can be draining at times to listen to the same story over and over about the location of the lamps in her apartment or the complaints about my sister Verda’s lack of care giving abilities. In Verda’s defense she stepped up to the plate without hesitation and has done this through losing her job. I admire Verda and I must admit I haven’t helped as much as I could. The main reason for my lack of assistance is I can’t face what’s happening to my mom.
In January Sandy passed away, he was my Mom’s second husband and a wonderful man. The aftermath of his death left my sister, daughter and I emotionally and physically drained. Filling the void Sandy left in my mother’s life is near impossible.
As I pressed answer on my cell phone I heard a trembling voice at the other end, she could barely get the words out that she wanted to say. I pictured her little 90lbs frail body and said “Mom what’s wrong?” She said “it’s OK I don’t want to burden you.” I said “Mom tell me what’s going on!!” in an angry tone.
“I don’t want to do this anymore, I can’t do this” she said and I could hear the heavy sighs. I said “Mom come on you are moving in a few weeks and you will be fine.” I focused on her cracking voice and muted the TV.
I knew what I had to do, it was pep talk time and I needed to put on my game face, time to forget everything else, time to forget how much I want my old mom back.
I said “Mom do you remember when I was young you went in for back surgery and when dad took me to the hospital they refused to let me in because I was so young.”at that time kids were not allowed in hospital rooms under the age of ten. “Dad and I left and we stopped for an ice cream and he dialed the number so I could call you from a payphone. I told you then that you were my Queen and you have always been the queen for all of us through the good and bad times.”
“What would you say to me Mom if I wanted to give up? She said “I would tell you that I can’t lose you and I love you”. “Well Mom I feel the same way, I’m not ready to lose you.”
Then I brought God and humour into it, this is my coping skill and the way that I coach others through difficult times. “Mom God must really love you, he gave you four beautiful kids, almost eighty years on earth and two husbands, Verda did not even have one hahaha”. I could hear her voice getting clearer as she hung on my every word. “Mom many people’s lives are cut short and you are blessed to still be here, I know it gets hard but I’m not ready to lose you”.
It hasn’t been easy to watch her deteriorate, to see her so fragile and lost at times. This woman was a rock for everyone, the most impressive hostess who always had a loving way of making everything better.
She went through heartache, illness and abuse but nobody knew she hid it all behind her crooked smile, like Jean Chretien a surgery gone wrong had caused her mouth to shift sideways but her beauty could not be denied. Her sense of style and composure were legendary in our family. Within our little unit she was the foreman, dictating how things would run and we complied.
I’ve had many issues with my Mom….too many to count but at some point when you let go of it all you realize that your parents did the best they could. We do the best we can and we can only hope to gain forgiveness from those we’ve hurt.
As her spirit started to rise again and her tone of voice stabilized she said “Gail do you know what you are? You are my angel.” So with tears welling up in my eyes as I write this post I want you to be grateful today and everyday for what you have, don’t take it for granted.
It is hard to know that the clock is winding down on the time you have left with a loved one and it is true that every moment you share is precious but I strongly believe that the most important part of the process is being there when they need you, not just to drive them to appointments, do groceries and hire caregivers but mainly to listen and emotionally pick them up when they fall.
I will always be Gabrielle’s Angel and she will always be my Queen.