I’ve written a lot about my mom over the years. Some of it for laughs, some to enter a challenge (in fact my one achievement to the point of writing this article was a runner-up prize in the Mother’s Day Confessions challenge). I’ve written about my mom not having a great deal of empathy, how she showed more affection for a stray cat than her child, and several other pieces that didn’t always paint Mom in a great light.
Now, I want to emphasize that I stand behind everything that I’ve written about her. It’s an accurate retelling of my life as her son. A lot of her behavior made me a harder man, whereas some made me a softer, more loving dad to my daughter. I have spent many hours talking to a psychologist about Mom, and the way that she made me see herself.
But very recently Mom almost died, and it did make me sad.
Long story short, Mom came to visit us for Christmas. It was the first time she had ever come to spend Christmas with our family, usually, she visits my sister and her family. But in the years since Dad died, Mom has made the effort to see us a bit more.
Because, despite what Mom would have you believe, I’m not a terrible son, so I got Mom upgraded to business class for what is a long flight down here. She arrived and my daughter was overjoyed that she would get to see Grandma for Christmas. The first couple of days Mom was in great health and hanging with my daughter whilst my wife and I worked.
Then one night Mom called me at about 1 am to say that her atrial fibrillation was playing up and her heart was racing. She didn’t want to go to the hospital then, so I arranged to take her to the doctor the next morning. The doctor recommended that she take an extra half tablet of her medication and that should help. He also asked if she had any infections, but she said she did not.
Over the coming days, Mom’s health declined further. She had a very upset stomach and had a couple of “accidents”. By Christmas Day she was worse but managed to get through the day. On Boxing Day, we went back to the doctor. This time she admitted that she had been having stomach issues for some time and had been passing blood for about 3 months.
Now, I know what you’re probably thinking. “Holy shit, passing blood is a bad thing, right?” Yes, it is. Mom also admitted that she’d been prescribed antibiotics by her doctor but hadn’t been taking them because she didn’t like how they made her feel. This doctor again prescribed her antibiotics and told her to modify her diet to reduce any risks of flare-ups.
Mom, not being one to be overly influenced by doctors, decided that she’d make up her mind on when she would be taking medication and when she wouldn’t.
Surprisingly, Mom’s condition didn’t improve.
At 9 am on the morning of New Year’s Eve, we were in an ambulance on our way to the hospital. Mom was dehydrated and in a bad way. We spent 17 hours in the emergency department with them trying to stabilize her, and they couldn’t. I rang my sister to tell her that it wasn’t looking good but apparently, that wasn’t serious enough for my sister to come down and see Mom.
Throughout the day a lot of things happened that scared me. Mom’s temperature would spike and then drop. At one point the nurse told her that she was easily the sickest person in the emergency department that day. Throughout it all, Mom maintained her ability to insult people.
At one point, she turned to me, and in a voice, that was not whispering, she said “Look, over there, it’s a little person!” Embarrassed I had to say, “Mom, that’s a doctor”. She retorted, “It might be, but it’s a little person doctor!”
As they tried to put fluids back into Mom, she would turn to the nurse and say, “Better watch him, he passes out with needles you know!” I sat there and took it, not wanting to point out that I was the only family member who was sitting there with her.
At around 1 am on New Year’s Day, the Intensive Care doctor came to see me. He asked, “Does your mom have a Do Not Resuscitate?” I chuckled a nervous chuckle, and said, “Oh, are we there are we?” He looked at me with a serious doctor's face, and replied, “We can’t get her stabilized, and I don’t know if we will be able to”.
At that moment, my head was filled with a realization that we could lose Mom. It scared me, we only lost Dad two years ago. I wasn’t ready to lose my mom as well.
The doctor told me that they’d move her into the ICU and give her a different type of medication to try to settle her heart down and put some more fluid into her. He said that this might work.
When they moved her to the ICU, I held her hand. I wanted her to feel comforted and know that I was there. I didn’t want her to go thinking I didn’t love her. I mean she was hard work, but she was also my mom and I still loved her.
The doctors said that they would move Mom into a room and get her settled, so while they did that, I could sit out in the waiting room.
After about 30 minutes, a nurse came out to me and asked, “Would you like to say goodbye to your mom now?”
I nearly screamed, I thought you were just getting her settled, not that she was going to die. When I expressed this to the nurse, she realized that she’d made a bit of a blunder. She clarified that she meant “Say goodnight to your mom”. Mom was responding well to the medication, and they wanted her to rest, and they thought I should probably rest too.
Over the next week, Mom slowly improved. However, as her health improved, her venom also returned. She was being rude to the nursing staff and made snide comments about the other patients in her ward.
After a week in the hospital, she “remembered” that there was one other piece of medication that she was supposed to have been taking, anti-anxiety medication. Even though she’d known about my struggles with depression, anxiety, and PTSD, not once did she mention that she had anxiety (although to be fair, it wasn’t that much of a surprise to anyone).
I went to see Mom multiple times a day, every time I left I kissed her on the forehead and told her that I loved her.
When she was discharged, I flew home with her. I stayed and helped her set her house up and arranged extra help for her.
I know that Mom comes from a generation that doesn’t like to ask for help. I know that you almost need to thrust help upon her. So I will. I call her a couple of times a week, whereas before it was every few weeks. Our relationship, whilst not the stuff of a Hallmark movie, is improved.
I’m glad I realized that I still loved my mom before it was too late to do anything about it.
About the Creator
Amateur storyteller, LEGO fanatic, leader, ex-Detective and human. All sorts of stories: some funny, some sad, some a little risqué all of them told from the heart.
Thank you all for your support.