V fought this cancer for about eleven years. From the beginning she knew she would beat it. For years she thought she had. Even during her last year she stayed positive and upbeat most of the time. I would call her and she would answer with a cheerful “Hi, how are you?” I used to worry that she wasn’t accepting her reality. But who am I to judge that? I started to realize that she probably did accept it but she didn’t want to talk about it. She called me one day about five or six months ago–one of the few times she didn’t sound very chipper. I asked her what was going on. She said, “Oh, I’m just down today and I need someone to talk to.” So we talked and talked. Not about her illness. That bored her. We discussed family. I have a large one and I think she asked about all of them that day. We discussed her husband and his upcoming retirement. She told me what was up with her beloved daughter A and her job and life in New York. We talked politics. V is (was) one of the few people I’ve been able to discuss politics with. We were truly kindred spirits in that regard.
A few weeks before V passed away she spent some time in the hospital. I went to visit one day while she was there. She was in the middle of a conversation with a woman who was explaining hospice to her. Her doctor had recommended that she go home with the help of hospice. I waited outside until they had finished. When I went in her room she started to cry. I took a chair as close to her as I could get. We held hands. She told me what was going on. She didn’t want hospice because of all the implications. She saw it as giving up and she never, never wanted to give up. You see, V had lost her mother when she was a young adult and she couldn’t even imagine doing that to her own daughter. She told me that day that she never dreamed it was possible to love someone as much as she loved A. And she was so proud of her and her many accomplishments. She wanted to be there for her. To abandon her was unspeakable.
I saw V one last time on the Monday before she passed away on Thursday. She had little energy. We didn’t talk much. I guess we didn’t need to. She did ask me about my GPS because she wanted to get her husband one for Christmas. She spoke with as much enthusiasm as she could muster when she talked about A getting home for Christmas. Her comment: “I’m ready!” She was always ready for A.
So, A, I write these words for you in the hope that they will confirm what you already know about your mother’s love and admiration for you.
Lots of love from Paddywhack.