I was going to blog about my Dad first, no one gets off the hook here, but I decided to talk about my Mom instead. You see, she is more complicated than talking about Dad. He is like me, so I get him, I am him…mini me’ed…in girl version.
But my Mom, her story is harder to tell, and I hope my memory has everything the way it really was…
We have always had a great relationship, and I adore her. Even when I was a teenager, and I told her I hated her, and all the other totally horrid things I did to drive her crazy, I loved her to death. I never would have told her that, but I did. A lot of the stuff I did acting out, was just looking for direction. I wanted to be told to smarten up, and do what I was supposed to do. I floundered as a teenager, I had no idea what I was supposed to be doing or where I was supposed to be going. So I did what I knew I shouldn’t do. A lot. It seemed easier to me than trying to be good…I was a horrible teenager, and I am thankful they let me live.
My Mom has always been a quiet woman, God knows how that happened in my family, but it did. She has always been well behaved, never drank, or smoked, or did bad things. She put up with my Dad’s shenanigans, she still does. That is no easy feat. He is a brat. I come by it honestly. She always worked out, looked after herself, and us, she never let us eat crap, much to our dismay, and made sure we were as happy and healthy as we could be. She has been an amazing Mom to my brother and I.
17 years ago, I lived in Chilliwack, with my husband, my 12 year old step son and my two year old baby boy Dylan. I got a call from my Dad…I think it was my Dad anyways…I don’t actually remember who called me… My Mom was in Vancouver in St. Pauls hospital. We all needed to get to the hospital, no one knew what was wrong yet, just that she had passed out in the mall, and they were doing tests on her that day, but it was serious, they were worried.
I don’t remember much about the rest of that day, somehow I got my sons taken care of and I drove to the hospital, which was about an hour and a half away.
When I got to the hospital, the doctor sat us down, he told us they had found a tumor, a brain tumor…it was large, and touching her brain. There was a very small chance that she may be paralyzed after the surgery, but it was a small chance, like 1 to 10 % and there was nothing to worry about, she was in good hands. Now as kids, we always joked when someone was being a dumbass, that they had a tumor, and we would say it in this ridiculous voice, that always made us laugh. It ran through my head when he was telling us this…no, this can’t be true…cause that is supposed to be funny, this is NOT.
Our world fell out from underneath us…
My Mom is the rock in our family. She did everything for my dad, they have been together since she was 15 and he was 17. Nothing could happen to her…it just couldn’t, she was only 50 years old…
I remember us joking about it all, making light of it, like we do with everything. I remember watching my brother, seeing how scared he was. See, he is like my Mom in so many ways, and he is her baby…he doesn’t hide stuff well, not from me anyways. I think looking at how scared he looked was the moment when the reality of it all hit me…
At one point my Mom and I were alone in the room, and she told me she wanted me to take her rings for her. She always wore this beautiful black diamond ring, that I loved. She always joked that she would Will it to me and I wasn’t getting it until she died…she said she wanted me to take her wedding ring and wear the black diamond. I refused…I told her she had always promised to Will it to me, and she wasn’t going anywhere, I wouldn’t take it.
She thought she was going to die…I was barely coping at this point. I have always been the toughie, the one that nothing phases, the one that holds it together and never shows when I am scared or worried. Well I was scared shitless. I had no control, and no idea what to do. I didn’t want to show her how scared I was, I wanted to be strong.
But how the hell do you do that when one of the strongest women you have ever known, the one woman that you look to every time something goes wrong in your life, is laying in a hospital bed, helpless, and you don’t even know if she is going to wake up from the surgery that they are taking her in for first thing in the morning.
Nothing before that, or since then has ever scared me so much.
I don’t remember much more about that night, except we were staying downtown, and the Canucks were in the Playoffs, it was the year they nearly won the Stanley cup…and there was total chaos everywhere, it was loud, all night. I just wanted to open up the window and scream… “don’t you people have any idea what is going on here? Fuck hockey….my Mom might be dying….”
The next morning was the surgery, I don’t remember how long she was in there for, I am sure it felt like years.
The doctor came out, and sat us down. When they did the surgery they did an incision in the shape of a question mark around her ear. It wasn’t a tumor. It was an brain aneurysm. I had no idea at the time what that meant. He said we were lucky she was still alive, it could have killed her, instantly.
The surgery was successful taking the aneurysm out, but they weren’t sure what the after effects would be. They didn’t know if there was going to be damage.
She woke from the surgery another woman. It took a long time for her to recover. I remember the frustration she had. Wanting to do something as simple as squeeze the tennis ball in her hand, and not being able to do it. Trying to tell one of us something and not being able to get the words out, or make us understand what she wanted. She was paralyzed on her left side, and still is partially, but she gets around fine, try and stop her…
It is totally heartbreaking to see someone you love struggle like that, to know that their lives will never, ever be the same again. In the beginning we weren’t sure how much damage there was. The reality of it was it took years for her to recover from it. She went to GF Strong Rehabilitation as soon as she was released from the hospital. She had to learn how to do everything all over again. She was frustrated and mad as hell, as we all would have been, it really seemed so unfair.
Slowly but surely she progressed, as did my dad. He had to learn to do everything she had always done. I don’t think he even knew how to use a bank card before that, she had always done it all. He had to learn how to cook, how to clean, how to look after a woman who had been his wife for nearly 30 years, and always taken care of him.
It was heartbreaking some days…
But the other days, when she did something new, or something she had been struggling with, she would get that light back in her eyes.
Excitement…pride…the Mom I remembered.
It has been a long road, and she has had a pretty rough ride. She has headaches, still, all the time. She says some days it feels like having a hangover all the time. Not fun.
It has been trying for my Dad too, life can turn upside down in a heartbeat, you just never know. Everything you know, everything you count on, everything you take for granted everyday…can be gone, in one second.
I thank the Universe every single day that we are lucky enough to still have her, different or not, she is still Mom. We joke about brain damage all the time, and she uses it as an excuse for nearly everything…lol…and now, she gets dinner made for her, and most days delivered to her spot on the couch.
She drives, not far, but far enough to take her to her scrabble games with the girls, or to the hairdresser…
You never have to wonder what she is thinking, she will tell you whether you want to hear it or not.
And if she thinks you are being a dumbass, she will tell you. There is no filter in sight, so in that way, she is just like the rest of us more than she used to be. She was always the one that was telling us to behave and not say fuck.
Once and a while, if she doesn’t get her way, or loses at Crib…she says fuck. She will deny it, but it’s true.
Sometimes life is so unfair, but at the same time, everything happens for some reason. Even if we don’t understand what the reason is. There are still days I wonder why…
I love her more now, than ever…She is my Mom the same now, as she was when I was 10. Only different. And that’s ok…cause I am thankful every single day that she is here to love me, frustrate me, ground me, back me up, laugh with me, hug me and just be my Mom…
and my friend…
I love you Mom…