Simple Ideas


Life & Death | September 22, 2012

I heard from my brother that he was going to get a clear indication from my Mom this morning on just what she wanted to do. There was one more procedure that could maybe give her another couple weeks, but she had indicated that she didn't want that. Indicated it rather strongly three different times to the nurses this week.

But you know how these life and death decisions go. You don't want to be cavalier about them. So George was going to get the answer in person. He got it, same answer "No".

He took a breath and retreated and tried to screw up the courage to ask the follow up. Do you know that you probably are going to die if you refuse this.

My Mom is a lot of things, but she is no dummy. 145 IQ. Trained as a nurse. Has seen dozens, maybe hundreds of people die over the years professionally. She knows the drill better than anyone else in the room. She was adamant, do not do the procedure.

I react to this as you might expect. Calmly and cooly accepting that she is an adult and that her life and her will are in her hands. Intellectually, I'm happy with this. This is not a team of docs and family members wringing there hands over what she might want. Yo, she is there and lucid and expressing her will.

And off course I start crying and burbling like a 2 year old, because this is it, no more Mom. No more texts about tennis players. No more cooing over how cute my grand daughter is. No more Mom.

I'm not there in hospital. I'm 2500 miles away. I just saw her three weeks ago while she was fine and I was fine. I've seen her after a triple bypass and a kidney failure and a few more things. I don't need more hospital memories.

George says she seems to be trying to make her peace with every person that walks in the room.

I half avoid my cell phone because of what news might be there. I do my morning yoga. I get done and see I missed a call and have 5 texts. He was trying to give me a chance to abort the removal of life support, but Mom was so adamant that there was no need for input from her number 1 son. But appreciate George trying to reach out. Cause when this is done, I'm it. I go to the head of the line that I'd rather not be in. I'm the oldest living member of this line of humanity.

The thought that comes to mind is that I should surf. Odd right, not rush back to see Mom. Surf. Yep, that is how I am assembled. I text George "Tell mom I love her"...then follow that with "Even though that seems so inadequate a way to say thank you to the person who gave you life."

And that is what the surfing is about. I'd have never done any of this if I wasn't given the chance. I could have been aborted, abandoned, abolished along the way. But nope, I'm here and still on this ride. So the thought was, say thanks by making the day a celebration of what is good in this life. I know that is how I'd like my kids to say goodbye to me.

But the waves are ankle high. Not a surf day. No problem, we are flexible people. I go for a bike ride. I go for a swim.

After the swim, I remember the fight before I left home. I wanted to take over the family finances because I was sure I could stretch the money so we could eat every day. So I wasn't the guy stuck there looking at 5 hungry faces and feeling like a failure because I couldn't make food appear without money.

Mom's response to that exemplified the problem. On her next payday she went out and bought me new clothes. Probably spent half her paycheck on that. Clearly she didn't get it. I didn't want for me, I wanted for my brothers and sisters. I wasn't complaining that I was working and not able to spend my money, I was complaining that I was working and the kids were still going without food 3-4 days a week.

Granted, at the time I didn't get it either. I knew she didn't have the skills to manage money or do most of the Mom things that Mom's on TV seemed to know how to do automatically. But she did everything she could to keep the family together. Through the social services and everyone else that could have busted us up, she held it together. And this was her effort to hold it together, to keep me in the fold. She was, I'm sure, trying to say "I love you" in the way she knew. Maybe the way I'd have understood if I was a daughter. Instead that was the moment that I knew that if I stayed there it would be more of the same, near starvation for as long as I was there. So I left and George followed. Now there was the same amount of money for 5 people instead of 7. I thought I was doing good. This was back when I thought I was smarter than I am.

The net result of this memory is that I go clothes shopping after my swim. I then shift my thought to my brother.

When he was driving up to PA from Virginia he he was jammed in traffic caused by a traffic control guy who had no idea how to control traffic. He texts me "how do they get this guy to do this job?" I answer that its because "Guys like us, guys who could do this job right, are doing our jobs."

He goes on and listens to the radio and hear the DJ announcing all the traffic inn Red Lion. We both lived there a while. 3 cars in front of you at a traffic light is a legitimate news story.

Driving to the hospital this morning he looks over at the light. The driver next to him has curlers in her hair. Curlers! 1960 technology alive and well in our home town in 2012. He asks

"Bro, how is there are no Epic Poems written about our escape from this?" On that one, I have to admit he has me stumped.

I'm brewing beer now. The hops just went in. Normally the hops flll my nose and lift my spirits. They are doing that somewhat. But with all the stuff flowing out of my head today, well, the hops are having a tough battle.

It's been 8 hours since they unplugged her from life support.

You know how this end right? You don't need to keep reading do you?

Yeah, she has an oxygen mask on. She is breathing Ok on her own. She seems to be happy. She may not be here much longer, but she is here now. And she is going out on her own terms. Like I said before, she's no dummy.

Any Comments?

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