Monday, November 18, 2013

The Silver Lining

Mom was overprotective. My brother and I were adopted. My father died of cancer when I was four. All of this is background to my story. I am forty six years old, married to a wonderful guy, a mother of three children who are 19, 16 and 11, founder and partner in a creative branding agency and faced with caring for my Mother. If you knew me last year, I would have told you that my Mom was a bit of a worry wart and my brother and I were not that close. Fast forward almost a year later and I will say my Mom embraces every ounce of life with rosey colored glasses and my brother and I are a true team.

Mom drove across the golden gate bridge in her twenties searching for success. She worked for the secret service as a secretary and met my Dad in San Francisco. It was a fairy tale life. He graduated from Boston College and was an avid sports fan — especially baseball. My family who had the pleasure of knowing him tell me he was the nicest guy you could ever meet. I really don't remember much. I see myself in a few photos and think I remember him, but honestly I was just too young to remember. Or perhaps because Mom didn't allow my brother and I to attend his funeral, I just blocked it all out.

Last January my life changed. Her life changed. Actually all of our lives changed. Mom called me late one night in a panic. She was really scared. I rushed over to her house to make sure she was ok and to evaluate the situation as I had been through a few false alarms due to her over sensitive nature (it wasn't my first ER rodeo with her). I found her in a completely different physical and mental state then I had ever seen her before. Her legs, hands, arms and face were severely swollen and she was looping around the house obsessing over making sure her doors were locked, the stove was off, her pills were taken, and at the same time she really wanted to go to the ER.

My brother and I had never really had to get involved in any of her health issues. She after all had raised two children on her own through social security payments and part time jobs after my father's death. With his life insurance she paid off the house so she could stay at home while we were at school. She raised us through 5th grade until we were in school long enough for her to get a full time job (she worked as the superior court administrator for San Mateo County). I don't remember ever not having anything that I wanted — especially clothes. My Mom loved fashion and so she was happy to spend money on clothes to look and feel good. She would always say "I love to look like a million bucks". I wouldn't call her vain, but in some ways she is. She was the beauty queen of her home town in Ephrata, Washington. 

I could not tell the ER doctor how old she was. After all Mom did not like to tell anyone her age. Even my kids would get the same response I did growing up; "I'm old enough to be a Mother". That night Mom brought up my Dad. Her mind was in other places. The doctor started to review her files. We had to walk him through what we knew; Yes, Mom had a pre cancerous tumor removed in the side of her cheek shortly after she was married-so she is not having a stroke; yes, she had breast cancer, yes she had non-hodgkins lymphoma back in the 80's and went into a coma; yes she had dialysis because of kidney failure; yes we are aware she has high blood pressure.

As we waited for her to be admitted my brother told me that he found out Daddy died because his best friend "Bobby" told him on the playground at school. After all these years of not being close to my brother, I finally had something I could relate to. To my surprise, he too, had been holding in some pretty life shaping memories. That moment everything changed. Mom got what she always wanted in her own unique way. My brother and I would be closer than we ever had been. She knew how to work miracles.

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