|Friday, October 19th 2007, by Marissa A Spencer|
My Mother's Final Gift
It was the early fall of 1989 when my mother Dorothy was dwindling away in hospice. She had been battling colon cancer for two years. She was able to be home for the majority of it, but the pain and care became impossible to keep her there. She had her first surgery when I was nine months pregnant with my third child. She was recovering from her surgery when I delivered her grandson. A lot happened in those two years. Some of it I do remember, but much is a blur of fatigue and emotions.
I remember being in the ICU as my mother lay there unconscious. She had gone into the hospital with pain and they operated and found a cancerous tumor in her lower intestine. They removed it and she was to have a colostomy bag from that time on. She looked so frail and helpless. I felt helpless, being over 9 months pregnant, waiting for him to be born. My children seem to always be late being born. I spoke to the doctor as we stood by her bedside. He tells me he estimates she has two years left to life. I was furious, feeling that even though my mother was unconscious, she could hear what he said. Like a post hypnotic suggestion, I felt he had doomed her.
Her recovery was slow. My sister helped out for a bit, her daughter also. I appreciated that, since I was up all night with my new baby. Unfortunately, my new son wasn't much of a sleeper. Unbeknown to us, he had double hernias and was in pain a lot of the time. This was discovered when he was over a year old. Like I have said, a lot is a blur, from the fact I was so tired.
My mother eventually moved in to the duplex she owned. My family lived on one side and she on the other. She was on morphine, liquid to be taken orally. It was difficult at times to manage the pain. The medicine would affect her stomach and it was hard to get nutrition into her. I tried very hard to do the most I could for her. She did have about six months where she did pretty well, but as that two year mark approached her health started to make a marked decline.
It was a hot, muggy August in 1989. I remember that it rained and was 90 degrees outside. It was not the kind of weather we were used to in Central California. It was about that time that my mother had to be admitted into hospice care. The hospital was a bit of a drive, but I visited her every day. Sometimes twice a day if I could. I had two young children and an older one. I took them at times, since seeing them was cheering for her.
Her doctor approached me one day to ask me to do something to bring my mother's spirits up. He was despairing. This kind of thing was not his usual patient. So I got some flower arranging supplies and we did that. My mother was starting to reconcile her self to her transition to the next life. I could see the surrender in her eyes. There was a little sadness, but there was acceptance too.
One day she told me she wanted to do something for the nurses who cared for her. She had been a nurse and could appreciate their efforts on her behalf. I love to sew, so I offered to make small blankets. I used two yards of fabric edged in binding with quilt filler and a bottom fabric. I stitched them together and quilted them by machine. I made several, even some for my own children. They were just the right size for cuddling on the couch. I made several of them to give to certain nurses. I was to give them after my mother passed. I returned to the hospital after Mom died. I had my instructions and I was there to deliver the quilts.
One nurse had two young children. I made her two of them. I still remember the look on her face when I gave her the quilts. She was so touched, almost stunned. They will always remember my mother. I will always remember the last wish in her heart before she passed; to show kindness and appreciation to others.
© October 18 2007
Marissa A Spencer
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Other entries in Stories
Saturday, March 3rd 2007: Parable of the Rock
Saturday, March 5th 2005: My California Childhood
Monday, August 23rd 2004: The Parable of the Mimosa and Crabapple
Sunday, August 15th 2004: Mary and Jane, are you my friends? Smithsonian part 5
Saturday, August 14th 2004: Going Into the Past: Smithsonian part 4
Friday, August 13th 2004: More pictures
Friday, August 13th 2004: Natural History Museum:Smithsonian part 3
Tuesday, August 10th 2004: Mary Cassatt, do I know you?:Smithsonian part 2
Wednesday, July 21st 2004: FORD THEATER AND ME: Smithsonian Part 1
Friday, May 7th 2004: Cloudy’s Contribution