January 2008 Archives


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An entry in which my mother says her last words and we thank more people.

My family and I were just having lunch.

The lads in Alexandria sent us sourdough bread, summer sausage and cheddar cheese - hearty fare - and my Aunt Barbara brought us a salad. Janet Lyon stopped by with a cherry pie.

The world is still full of angels.

I've been continuously amazed at how good the people of the world are. If you read the news, you'd have no idea, but if you just live in it without reading the news, it's full to the brim of angels. Sometimes my heart feels as though it will burst from the love, it's so full, filled up by the love of so many people.

After lunch, we talked about last words and near last words my mother said. We think that her real, honest to God, very last words were "Why am I taking so long to die?" In another example of my mother's supreme, sarcastic irony, she passed away five minutes later.

However, she said a last thing to each of us, as well, some of them sad, some of them funny.

To me, her last words were: "You make me laugh, even more than that joke about the naked old people!" (I had just brushed her teeth, and was cleaning her face. I licked one of my thumbs and rubbed it on a pretend smudge on her cheek, just like she used to do to me when I was four. We both laughed.)

To Mara, her last words were: "What was that?!?" ("That" was Liam, her only grandchild, nine months old, who had just made a sound like a jet engine smashing into an air raid siren during a thunderstorm. At a Metallica concert. That boy is loud.)

To Rachael, she said: "Why am I dying?" And, oh, how it hurt to hear. For some things, there are no good answers. Rae and I held each other in the kitchen and...and we cried, but it wasn't just crying, or even sobbing, it was deeper grief than I had imagined a person could feel, come to life in our bodies, moving up from the soles of our feet. Everything hurt. There was no solace but time.

To Mendon, she said: "I will, if you'll stop talking and let me!"

I don't know what she said to my father. The two of them spoke in private.


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Goodbye, Mommy.

I love you so much.

Around the clock care

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Maman needs 24 hour care now.

She is very frail. My mother slipped in the shower about a month ago and broke two vertebrae. When I lift her, I can feel the pieces of her broken vertebrae grind against one another.

She cannot speak. We know she's in pain or has to pee because she moves rubs her feet together. She signals no by a single blink. Mind you, her eyes are closed all the time now, so that comes across as a sort of closed eyed squint.

There is no signal for yes. She can only indicate "no." So that's just like when we were kids, anyway.

She can't drink water. It hurts too much. Without water, she won't live much longer.

We're taking turns to sit up next to my mother all night, one boy and one girl, because it takes one of the boys to lift my Maman and because, when she could talk, she indicated that she didn't want the boys, except my Dad, to help her with the bathroom stuff.

Last night, Rachael and I stayed up and I'm pretty shattered right now.

One thing is certain - it's infinitely better to be here than anywhere else. I'd be a wreck if I was somewhere else. Also, I don't know about everyone, but for me, this comes with some real relief. Listening to my mother in pain is a terrible feeling. When the end does come, she'll find some peace. Other people who have been with loved ones during a long battle like this one have said the same thing to me and I never understood.

Now I do.

My grandmother had a dozen middle names.

She also had breast cancer and struggled with it for 13 years. And she left behind a tape. A single casette, a Sony tape. It's the only thing we have with her voice on it.

She made the tape for my parents in 1975.

Tonight, my mother asked us to play it for her. She wanted to hear her mother's voice again.

My father and sister dug the tape out and we tried to play it. And it broke. Immediately. The audio portion of the tape had been glued to the leader and the glue failed.

Well, I'll be damned if my mother wants to hear her mother's voice before she dies and can't, so I took the tape downstairs, cranked it into a vice, used a coping saw to cut two small slits - about an inch apart - on the side of the tape that had the leader on it, used a file to remove the edge of the tape case along that one inch section, then gently pried away a one inch strip of the side. Then we re-threaded the tape. It only takes five words to write, but it took more than five swear words to re-thread the tape. Then we spliced the leader back on to the audio tape with Scotch tape and played it for my mother.

Because when your Mommy wants her Mommy, you do the best you can.

For those of you who are looking for timely, accurate updates on my mother's condition or are part of the coordinated support effort, please check Mara's blog. My sister, who is amazing, has been doing most of the outside communication and coordination.

We've got a lot of people to thank. The outpouring of support has been tremendous. I feel honoured to have had a mother so well loved that the community has supported us so selflessly. There are people from my parents church, the Baha'i Faith, who stop by on some days with food for the family. There are people from my mothers work who have coordinated with the folks from the Baha'i Faith to make sure that there are meals for everyone every day. There are folks at St. John Vianney Catholic church, which is my best friend's mother's church, who have made food for us - and my best friend's mother, like an angel, let Rachael and I join her and her entire extended family for dinner one night.

My mother's boss, Merry, has been out three times, even though it's nowhere near on the way home, to check on her and to reassure her that everything has been taken care of at work.

My mother has been worried that her desk wasn't clean, that her paperwork wasn't done, and Merry's been taking care of all of that.

I'm not even sure how to begin thanking people.

And you, the people who read my blog, have sent me so many emails that I haven't been able to answer them all. If I haven't gotten to you yet, I'm sorry. I will.

Finally, my mother says to love each other and forgive everything, without exception.

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This page is an archive of entries from January 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

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