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silverkitties

Approaching the one-year anniversary of my mother's passing

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September has been a very difficult month for me this year--and not just because of professional pressures.

 

Traditionally, it's always been a refreshing month of sorts, if not mostly because there's the first real whiff of fall in the air (now that seasons seem to be starting later and later). It's always marked a new school term with all of the excitement that it brings. Hopes of new projects. A time to break out new fall fashions. And yes, the approach of Halloween: meaning more horror to watch on TV.

 

Last year changed that optimism so drastically.

 

It was last September when my mom's decline assumed a frightening pace--right up to her death on October 4, 2014. Not that we ever gave up hope entirely. After all, her CAT scan had shown that she had improved in some places, and deteriorated in others. When my cousin and her husband came to visit us in mid-September, she seemed happy.

 

Yet, it seemed strange to us that her red and white blood cells kept declining so markedly, even though she was still fit for chemo. That she suffered more and more severe stomach pains: not just once a day, but multiple times. That she could not see objects placed straight in front of her. That she could only go down the stairs with extreme difficulty. This was not the mom I had in February or even in May when she could still go up and down with ease, despite her stroke in April.

 

It was  on September 21 that she looked so uncomfortable and very cranky. Strange, because she seemed be doing much better the day before, a Saturday. She ate a good deal and I was happy. On Sunday, tempers flew. I threatened Mom if she didn't start eating or stop talking the way she was, I was going to call the visiting nurse. It was meant as both a threat and yet also as a possible life saver. After all, what if mom was about to suffer a stroke or heart failure? Finally, by early evening, I thought it was better to give a call.

 

Up till very recently, I still had (or have?) no idea if I did the right thing. The nurse decided she needed to go and so she went. My mom was furious at me--and also began to suffer severe pains and low oxygen. They put an oxygen mask on her which made her even more uncomfortable and I almost wanted to cry for her. One of the nurses came by to give her morphine. In the meantime, it was discovered that she seemed to have some masses around her lungs. They didn't know if it was the cancer spreading, or if it was pneumonia.

 

The next day, she was better but still seemed quite weak. We were relieved that her roommate appeared to be very friendly. In the next two days, as we had requested, my mom got moved to a single: this was partly so my dad could stay with her as it was clear she wanted one of us to stay with her. Since I was already spending so much time there in the daytime such that I wasn't able to respond to my students, we decided it was best for dad to be with her. 

 

The weekend of the 26th and 27th were beautiful, sunny days--sort of the eye of the hurricane. Mom was still somewhat weak, but she was eating more and seeming more alert as she wanted to be wheeled down the hall for her "exercise." Two women from the Taiwanese Association came to visit her (the ones I was complaining about earlier); one brought a roast Chinese-styled chicken from the local Asian grocery.  On Sunday, she seemed even better and more alert. She ate with more gusto. We were pleased when the doctor making his rounds confirmed that--adding that her lungs were clearing up and she seemed to be recovering from what they were calling pneumonia. Already, I was mentally preparing a discharge from the hospital the next day: I would make or buy whatever breakfast she wanted--and then we would leave for home where I would make extra certain that she did not get sick again. Mom couldn't quite decide what she wanted; so I told her, "look I usually call you in the mornings anyway. So I'll call and you tell me then."

 

I will never forget our goodbyes that weekend. She was awake both afternoons and managed to say "I love you." On Sunday when one of dad's friends was picking me up, she told me "don't get into trouble."  Ever the protective mother. That evening, it seemed as if a cloud had been lifted. I had a chat with the lawn service guy who lived across from us. I then called mom to tell about a fly that had gotten into a water bottle which I had sealed immediately. Even after 3 days, it was alive and kicking in that water. Mom, certainly you can thrive right? But she was drifting off. Dad told me she had only eaten some of the food.

 

As I got up next morning to call mom--the morning of the 29th, I received a shock. It was not mom or dad who picked up the phone, but a doctor. And strangely, a doctor with the same surname as my dad's personal physician. (Turned out to be his niece.) I was told mom had suffered a stroke. It would have been her second that year.

 

When I arrived, she (and my dad) had already been wheeled to the ICU. Her room was a wonderful one, all clean and modern, overlooking the hills: it was her best one so far and it was too bad she could not enjoy it.  I went and asked what meds she had been given to see if it was any different from what she'd gotten that week--before blowing up at my dad who told me he had also given her aspirin because she'd requested it. WHAT, YOU IDIOT, YOU GAVE HER MORE PAINKILLERS AFTER SHE'D ALREADY GOTTEN A HUGE DOSE?! (Later that night, my pharmacist cousin told me she thought those meds she got over the week were somewhat heavy for someone her age.)

 

There was one only hope left at 12pm: that she would wake up like she did after first stroke. It had taken about 4-5 hours before she had gained consciousness the first time. Maybe this could happen again?

 

The hours went by. 1 pm, 2 pm, 3 pm, 4 pm....and the day becoming increasingly overcast whereas it had been somewhat bright and hazy that morning.  It was becoming evident that the hoped-for miracle would not recur.

 

But my dad did tell me something interesting. Late Sunday night or the wee hours of the morning, she had called out for me. Then she proceeded to call her mother and all her siblings from oldest to youngest, not missing a single one. We wonder if she knew the end was coming.

 

(More to come this week...I have so much to do but I feel I need to chronicle her passing. )

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Today, last year, was the day that the doctors confirmed that my mom had a severe thrombotic stroke. It was 3:00 am.

 

I am not going to discuss it right now if only because I need to vent on a few things that happened today which have angered and saddened me beyond belief with my mom dead for less than a year.

 

As all of you know by now, my father is a useless scumbag--someone who has outlived his usefulness by far. Not just by one year, several years or even the last 10: at least the last 50+ is probably the most accurate! I call him Scumdad.

 

Anyway, he rushed me this morning: this is after 5 hours of sleep on my part since I'd been working on my book, paying HIS bills, and washing dishes (the sink is clogged up so it takes extra time) until 3am last night; it wasn't until 4 am that I was able to go to bed.  Told him I'd be done in 10 minutes. After 5 minutes, he starts rushing me--and then calls a cab. Since I am the one who makes all the preparations for departure, it angered me beyond all measure. I had to call the cab to tell them to arrive 20 minutes later: as such, wasting even more time. In the meantime, I was going batshitt crazy, trying to get dressed, find the cash, wallet, checkbook, cellphone, my book, and one of the cats (just to know where he was.)

 

You have to understand, btw,  that he always takes his own sweet time--and is almost ALWAYS tardy.  Never mind other people. But he has no compunction about rushing others, especially me or mom when she was alive.

 

In the huge rush and the stress of arguing with Scumdad, I forgot to bring the requisition form for the blood test. The doc was not able to fax it to the center in time so we ended up going home after lunch.

 

During the meal itself, I couldn't help but feel so depressed at the sight of several older women, 3 of whom were at least my mother's age in their mid 80s.  I don't begrudge them, of course, but I did begrudge the fact that my mom was unable to live so long :sad: They were all well-dressed and looked at ease, like they were really enjoying themselves. Bless them. Why couldn't my mom have more years??

 

But of course, few of them were married to jackasses like my day. Or financially improvident, cheating husbands. Her life was cut short by my ASSHOLE father! 

 

Meanwhile, my father continues to act like we are all meant to serve him even though he does squat: i.e,. he argues he didn't rush me (when I tell you to wait and you call up the cab, you are rushing me!!!) 

 

I said to him when he was complaining,  "Did you see those older women? THE REASON MOM IS NOT ALIVE like them IS BECAUSE OF YOU!"

 

Then what he said chilled me to the bone.

 

"Well, it's too late. I can't do anything about it."

 

You have to understand he says this a lot when he messes up and refuses to take responsibility: "It's too bad, I did it and nothing can be done now." Just like that. This infuriates me to no end. It's like saying "tough ****, I phucked up. Deal with it."  It is as if he has the license to phuck things up but we have to pay the consequences for his idiocy. 

 

DO ANY OF YOU HAVE SUCH ROTTEN FATHERS?

 

I was ready to slap him--but couldn't because we were outside. I didn't want to be arrested; people were already looking because we were yelling at each other (he is slow, stupid, and refuses to get a hearing aid.)  But can you believe he had the gall to say that--as if he didn't care at all? Again--with mom in the grave for less than a year?

 

A part of me really wanted to cry. Mom had been so good to him, bent over backwards for him in their 60+ years of marriage even as he cheated on her and us. HOW COULD HE EVEN SAY THIS? HOW DARE HE? HE HASTENED HER DEATH AND HAS ABSOLUTELY NO REMORSE!

 

At the same time, I feel so sorry for my poor mom and feel lonelier than ever. He clearly has never cared for either of us.

 

I've had it. He's supposed to see his dermatologist on Oct. 2. I utterly refuse to take the time to bring him there and arrange another blood test between now and then so I had it postponed.  The earliest they had was January 26th.

 

If he feels bad, TOUGH ****. I AM SICK OF SACRIFICING MYSELF FOR HIM AND NOT GETTING ACKNOWLEDGED!!!!!! LET HIM SCRATCH HIMSELF TO DEATH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

DEAR GOD, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, KILL MY FATHER!!!!! HE HAS NO BUSINESS ALIVE WHEN HE'S KILLED MOM, FAILED TO WRITE AN OBITUARY, AND HAS ALL BUT COMPLETELY FORGOTTEN HER. Yeah, right, IT'S TOO LATE~

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No problem, Eve--my dad was actually going to make an appointment with a dermatologist who was closer anyway. I was so peeved yesterday...being rushed by him, wasting an entire day out, and seeing all those women who reminded me that mom should be alive; the last thing I wanted to do was to waste even more time for him. I am up to the gills.

 

I'm glad your mom got a nice ICU room--I suppose it takes the pain away just a little? She was lucky to stay until the very end. At least she was able to open her eyes and perhaps appreciate everything?

 

My mom's ICU room was, alas, not the last. They wound up moving her to the cancer unit--for what reason, I don't really recall since it would have been too late for them to do anything about her cancer anyway. :(

 

I did snap at one of the doctors: although they made their plans for room removal prior to my challenging them. That's when I complained that my mom should have had a GI oncologist in the first place since her cancer started in the bile duct. It was not until the previous day--the day my mom had her stroke--that I had just discovered there was a GI oncology department at the hospital. Why was she assigned a hematologist?! 

 

I now realize it may well have been because the doctor was new and needed patients. That's the most convenient excuse. Having said that, even if I had known there was a GI oncology department, I'm not sure I would have given up the hematologist since he seemed to have the best credentials--on paper, at least. And my mom seemed to like him so much.

 

Nonetheless, I felt that I had to say something. She should have had a GI oncologist as an adviser.

 

The doctor got very defensive. I told him that not all patients and their caregivers were ignorant. That I was an academic and that their decision to assign a hematologist made zero sense: I explained that what they did was comparable to assigning a student who wanted to write a senior thesis on Jane Austen to someone specializing in Chaucer.

 

The asshole doc replied, "well, if you're an academic, you know that results cannot always be assured. Maybe your mom would still be suffering." I answered, "That's not the point. She may--but perhaps she might have a better chance at survival. At least, we would be assured in the knowledge that everything was tried. After all, how is hematologist going to know the latest research in  GI treatment? There's a reason why there are specializations!" LOL, that doc looked like he was ready to explode. But I knew I am right. (And hell yeah, my Ph.D. is from a MUCH more prestigious institution than his, HA!)

 

The doc stubbornly continued to insist, "but there are no guarantees"--to which I replied, of course, "there are indeed no guarantees, but it is highly unprofessional to not try the best route possible."

 

I guess he must have been upset enough to tell this to my mom's primary physician who called me that night.  But I stuck to everything I said and repeated everything verbatim.

 

Since my mom was now going to the cancer unit, I told him I was going to speak to the head of the GI oncology department.

 

GOD, DO I HATE DUMB PEOPLE! There really ought to be IQ testing for couples who want to procreate. STUPID, IGNORANT PEOPLE SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED TO BREED!

 

Anyways~

 

I really do believe my mom was killed not only by dad, but the crappy, unprofessional, last-in-med-school doctors at hand. If my dad had stressed her out over the years and brought her needlessly to Taiwan in November 2013 which I believe killed her (food preparation had become very unsanitary there, not to mention the imports of Fukushima food), the docs were the ones, so to speak, who thrust the knife into mom.  

 

IF ANYONE HERE IS IN THE HARTFORD AREA OF CT AND WOULD LIKE SOME ADVICE ON CANCER, PLEASE PM ME. I WILL TELL YOU WHO TO AVOID!

 

Meanwhile, here is a special GODDAMN to those docs. It's 5 days to the anniversary of her death, I am still fuming as I cry here tonight.

 

God damn you docs for killing my precious mom before her time. God damn you, your wives, your sons, your daughters, and whoever is still alive in your freaking family. I HOPE you ALL GET RAPED, BEATEN, BURNED, DISEASED, DISFIGURED, TERMINALLY ILL.  I HOPE YOU SUFFER A TRAVELING ACCIDENT ON YOUR MULTIPLE VACATIONS.

 

And so I damn them from head to toe:

 

GOD DAMN THEIR EYES, GOD DAMN THEIR EYEBROWS, GOD DAMN THEIR NOSES, GOD DAMN THEIR NOSTRILS, GOD DAMN THEIR MOUTHS, GOD DAMN THEIR TEETH, GOD DAMN THEIR TONGUES, GOD DAMN THEIR GUMS, GOD DAMN THEIR THROATS, GOD DAMN THEIR  NECKS, GOD DAMN THEIR ESOPHAGI, GOD DAMN THEIR LUNGS, GOD DAMN THEIR HEARTS, GOD DAMN THEIR STOMACHS, GOD DAMN THEIR LIVERS, GOD DAMN THEIR PANCREAS, GOD DAMN THEIR KIDNEYS, GOD DAMN THEIR BLADDERS, GOD DAMN THEIR BILE DUCTS, GOD DAMN THEIR SMALL AND LARGE INTESTINES, GOD DAMN THEIR COLONS, GOD DAMN THEIR UTERI, GOD DAMN THEIR KUNTS, GOD DAMN THEIR PRICS, GOD DAMN THEIR TESTICLES, GOD DAMN THEIR THIGHS, GOD DAMN THEIR KNEES, GOD DAMN THEIR CALVES, GOD DAMN THEIR ANKLES, GOD DAMN THEIR TOES, GOD DAMN THEIR ARMS, GOD DAMN THEIR ELBOWS, GOD DAMN THEIR FINGERS AND NAILS.  GOD DAMN EACH AND EVERY ONE OF THOSE MOTHER PHUCKERS. I HOPE THEY SUFFER A FATAL XMAS/HANUKKAH ACCIDENT WHERE EVERYTHING BURNS DOWN AROUND THEM. I HOPE THEY GET SLAMMED ON AN ICY BRIDGE AND PLUNGE INTO THE DEPTHS. OR SMASHED BY AN ONCOMING 18-WHEELER.

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Eve, I think many of those docs don't care at all.  That's why your mom's doctors couldn't even get their stories straight. The only thing they care about is their freaking vacations.
 
I'm sorry it sounds so cynical, but when I was living back in Chicago, a nurse working at Northwestern Memorial told me about some of the instructions she'd been given, particularly this one--
 
"The most important patients are the wealthy ones--especially the donors. Be nice to them."
 
It's as if the rest of us don't matter. I don't know about your docs, but I feel as if ours assumed that since our family was not wealthy and my mom was on Medicare-United Healthcare, they could give a flying phuck whether she lived or died. In fact, they may even have thought that was not worth their bother because they wouldn't get the best reimbursement.
 
Oh yes, I did mention the penises--but was afraid it would be deleted, so I wrote "prics." :):lol:

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PLEASE GOD, KILL MY FATHER!

 

I have just about had it. My dad tracked diarrhea all over the hallway.

 

As amusing as this may seem, it's not: or at least not if you have to clean up after him like I did again--second time this week! This has wasted at least 2 hours and I have more than enough things to worry about.

 

And this dumbass wonders why he has no respect from me or anyone. Hello, stupid, it's your lack of common sense. This is why you don't teach at a semi-prestigious university--let alone a prestigious one. This is why U Michigan, UCLA, Harvard, Yale, etc. don't want you.  If you can't even clean up after yourself and realize that you have to change your slippers after you plop poop all over the place, it's no wonder you do crappy research. (Pun intended.)

 

My dad likes to blame his lack of success on racism--to which I say BULLSCHITT. There are loads of Asians in engineering. All your friends have better jobs and better pay. Everyone but YOU. Because you're STUPID. No wonder you only feel comfortable with people who are far less educated--like your cousin with her 5th grade education. No wonder you feel uncomfortable shopping at places like Saks and Brooks Brothers. You complain about materialism but that's because you know deep down you're a LOSER. And yet, you had the gall to push me and mom around!

 

My dad threatened to spray the cleaning fluid in my face to which I said "you do that and I'll shove you right onto the floor. And I can do that because it's SELF-DEFENSE. Do you know what that is, idiot, son of a whore? GODDAMN YOUR MOTHER FOR BRINGING UP A KUNT LIKE YOU! WIFE KILLER!"

 

You should see the loser praying to his parents and family at night. I make sure to pass by and say out loud-- "goddamn your parents for breeding and raising you. I DAMN YOUR PARENTS EVERY NIGHT. YOUR DUMBASS, HO-HUMPING COP DAD AND DUMBASS TEACHER MOM (btw, how does someone that stupid and ill-equipped at raising children teach?!). BUNCHA STUPID UNEDUCATED DIRTBAGS. YOU KILLED MOM!"
 

Please, God, answer my prayers and KILL HIM! KILL MY MOM'S BIGGEST MURDERER! AND KILL HER GODDAMN DOCS!

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Trish91   

Hi Eve and Silver,

 

I'm so very sorry over the 1st anniversary of Silver's momma. Last year's 1st anniversary was extremely hard for me. Luckily, I had lots of work at that time, otherwise, I'd gone crazy. Work has been a way to keep myself from falling into utter sadness and despair. Since my momma left us just before Christmas, and got really sick during both her birthday and mine, the end of the year and the holiday season are dreaded times for me. I don't know how I will feel  this year, but I don't think it'll be any better. My birthday was a true nightmare last year, as my mom always made it very special, as I did hers, and we were born one day apart, so my birthday will always be a very sad occasion.

 

I completely understand what you are describing about medical care. However, I wish I had been a lot more proactive and assertive like you and Eve. I was in such shock and so jetlagged that I couldn't think straight. It all happened so quickly and unexpectedly, and once I heard it was lung cancer with metastases to the pelvis and liver, I knew survival chances were very limited, so I sort of gave up any hope. I also didn't want my mom to continue to suffer indefinitely if she wasn't going to be cured, and she had lost a lot of weight in a matter of a few weeks, so would not have been able to withstand chemo, which she'd always been opposed to after seeing her own mom suffer terribly through it without real hope of being cured. I never thought, in a million years, that she had cancer of any sort, let alone in the lung, as she'd never smoked, and neither did her parents or my father. She was the most active and independent person I've ever known, very strong and intelligent, kind and funny. She was, is and always will be my hero.

 

I'd convinced her to come see us (my brother and I and her new grandchild), and only 2 weeks before travelling from Europe, she experienced pain in one of her legs, but when through 2 MRIs, blood tests and epidurals and was then fully ready to travel. She was OK for the first month while here, and then the pain returned and wouldn't go away. I took her to the doctors here, even though she didn't have the required health insurance to receive full treatment, due to not being a permanent resident or citizen of this country, so she got strong pain killers, but not all the necessary tests and assistance. In the last three weeks before going home, she started losing her appetite and experiencing more pain. I gave her massages with special ointments every single day, sometimes three times a day, but she wasn't herself. She was in a lot of pain in her leg, though I was in absolute denial due to the MRIs and other tests not having revealed any traces of tumours. She used to go to various specialists once a year, for check-ups, and had recently visited her gynaecologist for full tests and examination, as well as her gastroenterologist and dermatologist, so how could it be than none of them ever conducted a CT scan of her actual chest? She wasn't high risk for lung cancer, I guess, but I also believe that doctors are lazy and mediocre, and try to save money on behalf of the private health insurance companies they work for.

 

Only at the very end did mom have trouble breathing, and only on her last day, thank God, did she have to wear an oxygen mask, which she refused to wear and I got upset at her over that, and also when she refused to eat or when I couldn't sleep a wink due to the effects of the morphine on her and the awful hallucinations that they were causing her. I was so selfish and I beat myself up over it after and ever since. I deserve all this suffering for not being a lot more assertive, patient and kind during those days. I was a mess inside, and with all the family and friends around, I couldn't really grieve. I told her I loved her every single day though, but I could have been a lot better. I'm not like my mom, I wish I was, but I am not as strong and together as she was in the face of adversity. My tendency is to try and run away or pretend that things aren't as bad as they are, and that's what I wanted when my mom was diagnosed and got so sick, for the nightmare to end, as I couldn't bear it.

 

There are 4 medical doctors in my mom's family, one of her sisters, her sister's husband, her sister's son and his wife, though none of them specialise in oncology or pulmonology, rather in orthopaedics, dermatology, internal medicine and nephrology. They were extremely helpful and supportive of my mom during her short but very intense and painful illness, by connecting her with the best specialists, checking up on her daily and speaking with those specialists on the results of all analyses. However, those specialists were not really available to me. They didn't really talk to me, they talked to my relatives, who in turn talked to me. I didn't ask more questions about the illness and possible treatment options because I was in utter shock and denial mode, and I just wanted for it all to disappear and go away. I feel so guilty about that. I should have done more, but I knew that my mom didn't want to suffer indefinitely if there was no cure. She had told me so several times before.

 

However, my mother in law's got a friend who has the same type of cancer as my mom, and was diagnosed at the same time. Unlike my mom, she's still alive. She has chemo every two weeks, and has survived for nearly two years. Her tumours cannot be cured, but they are not growing further either. Her primary cancer was not lung cancer, it was breast cancer, which three years later became lung cancer, liver cancer and bone cancer. But the point is, she's still alive, all difficulties considered. How come my mom is not? Is it my fault? Could I have done a lot more? Why did I convince her to come see us? Did I cause more suffering that I should have? I felt so impotent at the time. I'd had a hell of a year at work too, and I had been under so much stress that I'd lost heaps of weight. I  spent the last 4 months of my mom's life with her every day, and I thank God for that, and for the fact that I had enough money and holidays to fly home and be with her. However, I could have done a lot more and that pains me terribly.

 

Sorry for all the gibberish, that's why I don't write every day, because when I do, I write extremely long messages.

 

I just wanted to say that I read every day and I am think of you both and everybody who is going through this awfully painful process which will never really end, as we will not get our moms back, not in this life anyway.

 

Warm regards to you both,

 

Trish

 

 

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I'm always happy to see you, Trish--and just wanted to reassure you, no matter what you think, that you truly have done your best in your circumstances.

 

You have already seen how Eve and I tried everything: and yet our mothers still succumbed.

 

There are always a lot of factors involved. As you know, I continue to blame my father. I also hold the docs responsible--and perhaps, not just the docs, but the healthcare system where everything boils down to profit: the almighty dollar.  Docs sign contracts with drug companies making commissions when they prescribe a drug. Hospitals and docs gauge care according to insurance coverage. Unless you are mega rich and famous--and have the power to make huge donations or sway people one way or another-- you're more or less as good as lost. Insurance companies will have their profits and doctors will have their multiple vacations. And even then, supposing you have all the advantages life and capitalism can offer, there are no guarantees. Look at Celine Dion's 73-year-old husband dying of lung cancer; it is believed that he only has a few days left. There's Jim Cramer's father who died last year at 92--granted, a ripe old age--but the docs weren't able to do anything about his pneumonia. I know this doesn't make the pain go away: sometimes, it makes us feel even more helpless.

 

I do try to be proactive though. I try to tell myself that I will learn something from mom's suffering and make sure I don't make the same mistakes again. I made sure my dad went to a different hospital when he collapsed at the treadmill. I try to avoid eating processed foods which can trigger cancer--or feeding them to my dad. I have stopped making pasta altogether as I discovered that aluminum cans contribute to cancer. (I used to use canned tomatoes to make pasta, believing that it was better than the stuff in the jars.)

 

Yet, as rational as we try to be, we can't help being human either. I know all too well what you mean when you get pangs seeing other people who are still alive--despite the fact that they are suffering from the same kind of cancer as your mom. It feels terrible to begrudge others: but then again, we are still mourning and in deep grief. We need to accept this state of mind for now; that we will have our regrets no matter how petty it might seem to others.  This will hopefully change as we begin to heal.

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I should be working on my article, but still can't concentrate: and I know just why--because memories of what happened Thursday last year have been running like a vengeance through my mind all day, playing like a film on continuous reel. It doesn't help that the weather is almost exactly the same--a mix of sun and clouds, but mostly overcast by the end of the day. And of course, with the equinox, days were getting progressively shorter. Whereas in the summer, there was still plenty of sun at 7pm, it was now dark.  Not that any of this was outside of the ordinary, but one notices these changes when depressed and anxious. Everything feels a little darker, a little sadder.

 

I remember getting a call from the Fourth Angel in the late morning. Bless the woman I spoke to: she was my age, but had been suffering from my mom's cancer for the last 4 years. She was also given a 6-month prognosis. But somehow she endured. We talked about a lot of things--not just my mom's cancer, and I left for the hospital feeling considerably better.

 

One of the things she had told me was that many stroke sufferers still had their hearing intact.

 

So when I visited mom, I played some music for her--some of her favorites, some of ours, and some of my childhood favorites.

 

She always enjoyed Schubert's Ave Maria, so I started with that. Then to another Schubert piece, this time an impromptu I played back in college, There was a waltz from Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique, Mozart's "Rondo Alla Turca" and Beethoven's Fur Elise, both of which she used to play. 

 

What amazed me was how mom started to move her arms and legs; it was almost as if she were trying to dance to the music.

 

Then I played some tracks from my favorite childhood album, hoping that it might jolt her memories and revive her--

 

"The hills are alive with the sound of music. With songs they have sung for a thousand years..."

 

"....Let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start. When you read you begin with ABC..." 

 

"Raindrops on roses, whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles, and warm woollen mittens..."

 

"Edelweiss, edelweiss, every morning you greet me..."

 

"So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, good night..."

 

Mom continued to move...could she really be hearing the sounds of music? Could she then hear us? Maybe she did hear me telling her every evening that I loved her. That I wanted her to get better. That we would return home and she would recover. And maybe, just maybe, we could go to the mall like we used to. (OK, I didn't really think that would happen, but thought maybe she might be compelled to wake up.)

 

That evening, Dad came home with me because he was feeling quite tired since he'd slept there Tuesday and Wednesday. I didn't want him to risk his health since it was not altogether clear how conscious mom was after all: would she really know he had left? It would be just one night anyway.

 

Yet, seeing her move to the music made me think at least mom had not gone altogether; she probably was attuned at some level. She may not have been functioning, but she's alive and somewhat sentient. If I could just see her move over the next month, I wouldn't feel so depressed. Better that than losing her completely.   

 

But the next day, a Friday, October 3, dad said he felt that he had a cold--so I went by myself. I played music for mom, but there was very little reaction. She wasn't moving her arms and legs like the day before. Was she feeling worse? Or did she know dad was not there?

 

Strangely, it was the one day that week when it wasn't either cloudy or overcast. It was bright and sunny...sort of the eye of the storm.

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Eve, it looks like our posts sort of crossed--my post on today is just below yours; you probably started posting as I was finishing.

 

But yes, it's been a very sad day for me. You'll see why. :(

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Thank you for asking, Eve--It's another gray and dismal day.

 

Still reeling from a huge argument I had with my dad last night. As usual, he was being uncooperative, and like just about every day, I said "You killed mom! You know you did! If it weren't for you she might still be alive! "  

 

Then he actually acknowledged he killed mom!--before saying nonchalantly "What do you expect me to do?  It's too late. I didn't mean to." Just like on Monday.

 

OK, I suppose between him and the doctors, she died. Perhaps even I was to blame when I cooked pasta, trying to do it the right way with canned tomatoes, sausage, and pepperoni. Maybe our pizza outings killed her?

 

Today wasn't as bad as yesterday as I was trying to write a letter to the editor (debates are the only thing that keep me from going insane) and finish my article. I had a number of chores, including sorting the groceries so there was no real time for me to get seriously depressed.

 

Yet, I wonder how I will feel on Sunday, the 4th.

 

At the moment, i do admit to feeling a bit sad and lonely that none of my relatives have bothered to call. Maybe they don't want to remind me. Another one of my cousins--the one who visited us last year in May--emailed. I find it hard to talk to her because she always sticks her daughter on the phone while she herself is always cheery. Bless her for thinking of me....but I find it so difficult to be with happy people right now.

 

This year has been a year from hell; I can't figure out if it's better or worse than last year, but it seems that I've had so much anxiety this year over everything, with depression heaped on top. Worrying about money, worrying about the book and other projects, worrying about the cats. My dad refusing to cooperate.

 

I've not had a rip roaring laugh at all this year. Somehow, the laughter disappeared with mom. Whether it was watching comedy or making cracks about dad. Like the time I told her in Taiwanese that his head was shaped like a giant toilet, but that God had forgotten to add a flush handle. (She never expects me to be fluent in Taiwanese...don't know why since i've lived with her these last 7 years when my folks moved up here with me!) Mom would tell me about her parents' fights--or some folks she knew with funny names--like someone whose Japanese and Taiwanese names, when combined, sound like the Taiwanese word for "sh*t explosion." I remember how we laughed when I taught her the word "kunt" and showed it to her in her Japanese dictionary. Then she taught me the word in Taiwanese.

 

I feel like I've lost interest in some of my hobbies--including fashion. It's become hard to shop online when certain clothes remind me of things I had bought earlier when mom was still alive. Or when fashion shows and brochures remind me of the times mom and I would watch and pore through them. There are two lipsticks I used to wear all the time when I was visiting mom in rehab and every time I wear them I think of those days.

 

This happens all too often even when I'm doing my work. Every time I open my ipad to look at notes, I think of all the times I was in the hospital last year. And last night when I read the news that the university I attended in England was #2 worldwide, I almost wanted to tell her. Then all my memories of her visits flooded back and I wound up feeling worse, knowing I will never enjoy England with her again.

 

It's as though everything positive has turned negative. And everything negative becomes even worse--like my dad.

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I bet they forgot, Eve--and probably don't care either. If I want to be charitable, then I think maybe they don't want to upset us. Have any of your brothers or sister called?

 

I'm thinking about making my mom's favorite chicken soup that day. And yet, I know it's probably going to get me crying--that is, if I'm not crying already.

 

I have no idea how I'm going to feel. Yesterday was horrible. I felt as if I were living it all over again. The sad thing is I know it won't end on Sunday either. I'll be thinking about the early days of that week when we went to the funeral home. And when the Buddhists came to see us. When the cat that was most attached to my mom got an eye infection that night: usually it's his sister who gets them. They say cats get them when they are stressed. Maybe the boy knew she was gone for good?

 

Sometimes I wonder what he thinks when he sleeps on my mom's bed. The girl doesn't sleep there anymore--at least, not since she's recovered from her loss of appetite-- but he goes there frequently. Is he missing her? Or is it because that room is a little warmer?

 

I know what you mean. I used to share some of my books with my mom too: I remember how she managed to read a 400-page college/graduate-level biography. Most of the time she claimed she was too busy; but she would always try to read in the evenings. That changed, though, as my dad started phucking up his schedule--and naturally mom's.

 

It is indeed so hard to know you won't be sharing anymore :( Or laughing together.

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Another gray, dismal day. It looks like tomorrow--the 4th--will be the same, but a little warmer. Just like last year.

 

It's hard to believe it's been almost a year. It still feels so fresh, so raw.

 

Today, a strange thing happened. The brother cat who's very attached to my mom crawled inside the bag where I kept the clothes that she was supposed to wear home. I don't know why he chose the bag. Was it because it was time to change the sheets on my mom's bed, where no one sleeps at all--except him? (The last time it was changed was in August.) Was it because he was jolted by me when I turned the covers on the futon beside her bed (hadn't slept there since August too)? Or did he go there because he happened to sniff my mom's scent on those clothes, even though they had been washed when we brought them to her?

 

It made me feel sad....perhaps he's still missing her? Then I wonder...am I projecting my sadness onto him? Or is he indeed as unhappy and lonely as I am?

 

Mom should not have been the one to die...statistics show that women almost always outlive their husbands? WHY WAS IT NOT SO IN OUR CASE? Mom should be the one alive and enjoying herself! She busted herself for dad who only cared about HIMSELF. And unlike other fathers who cheat on their wives but still care for their daughters (e.g., Bill Clinton), he doesn't even care about me!

 

I feel so screwed. No mom. No dad. No husband. NOTHING. NADA. No one to love. No one who loves me. WHY EKE OUT SUCH A MISERABLE EXISTENCE? WHY AM I NOT DEAD?

 

All my dreams are so strange....there's either a sense of longing, like something's missing even when I'm not thinking of mom per se,, or I'm ecstatic to be with her again.

 

This afternoon,  when I asked the guy who drove me and dad out for grocery shopping what happens to the dead after a year (even though I don't really believe in Buddhism or any religion), he said that they get reborn; for instance, she may be reborn as a baby.  It made me sad....probably means we will never meet again if we indeed are born over and over again.  As he once said, human existences are like dreams...we will all pass in and out of others' lives just as in dreams when people fade in and out.

 

Right now, all I want is the assurance that I will see her once more. :( :( :( It's the only thing that could possibly make me happy and give me a purpose to live. I like to imagine that when we are dead, we will float together, seeing all the places we once enjoyed, recalling all of our fond remembrances. And we will never be separated again.    

 

Why can't I at least have that when my life has been so bleak and unhappy? Why?

 

Sorry this post is so incoherent and rambling. This is probably all I can muster in my present state of mind.

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Eve, the year has flown by. Each quarter seems to have had its unique form of anxiety, sorrow, and nostalgia.

 

Retrospectively, last October through December were in some ways the least unhappy even though I was so stressed over handling mom's finances, probate, teaching, memorial services, and not least--a new change in our phone and internet when AT&T got replaced by Frontier. (I guess I had been so involved with caretaking that I barely paid attention to the switch then.) But at least then, people were reaching out to us--my parents' friends in the Taiwanese community and my relatives: I will have to hand it to the former for helping us out with rides and answering questions then.  At Xmas, we gave nice gifts to all those who helped us.

 

Altogether, this past year since my mom's passing has been a long and terrible year; in fact, I can't even figure out if it's better or worse than last year. Each was challenging in its own way, I suppose.  Honestly, working on my book was relatively easy in comparison to dealing with my bouts of depression. 

 

But I will say this: Eve, the only times i've ever felt any happiness or comfort was here on these boards, exchanging thoughts with everyone. I really appreciate all the empathy--and yes, the laughter that sometimes accompanied the tears. You have been such a balm: you don't know how much I thank you for reaching out last March. (Has it been that long already?!) I enjoyed our phone conversation too.

 

Really, thank you for being a friend. I keep thinking how strange and fitting it is that you're not far from where I lived over the last 30+ years. :)

 

Here's a little song for you, MSN, Trish, CindyJane, Missionblue, and all those newer folks--Fragrantcloud, Lisa, and others--who have shared and sympathized over the past several months:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yq-sxM20RMM

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Today marks the 1-year anniversary of Mom's passing--almost to the hour.

 

It wasn't something I really expected that overcast morning. I harbored some hopes that with Dad feeling better and accompanying me to see her, she might notice and feel better herself.

 

But there were already signs that all was not going to go well as we headed over. On the way to the hospital, the doctor phoned to say that we'd have to make a decision on her real soon as her breathing was getting shallow and her blood pressure had spiked up. Sure enough, when we arrived that's what we had found. Mom was breathing more audibly; possibly because of this, she also looked more alert--as if she were going to wake up.

 

Around 11:20 am, a doctor came to check. Mom's pressure continued to go up as her oxygen diminished. It was now coming down to a final decision. Did we want them to make an effort to resuscitate her? Did we want her on a feeding tube and ventilator? At this moment, a group of technicians were summoned in: it was almost frightening. Up till now, I have NO idea, why they needed 20 people. (I even wonder if this scared mom into having her third and final stroke.)

 

Dad and I went out in the hallway with another doctor to discuss this. I recall feeling so ambivalent; I really wanted to keep my mom alive--but I also remember that she had told us that she did not want to live on unnecessarily. She did not want to remain comatose for years.

 

Suddenly, my mom's primary physician who was in mom's room called out to say she had passed.  It was almost as if Mom made her decision for us. For a brief moment, there was almost a feeling of relief on our part.

 

As we reentered, there she was--lying with her head turned to the side. There were a few hugs with the docs.  Mom's doc told me he had gone through the same when his mother died of breast cancer. A few of the techs gave us condolences. Then they all left. My mom probably expired prior to 11:40, but the certificate records that she was pronounced dead at 11:45.

 

This was it. There was an incredible silence of shock. I started calling my cousin and aunt who were on the train from Illinois. They didn't pick up, so I proceeded to call my mom's younger sister--the one who visited back in May. I wrote to a friend to tell her too. 

 

Then it started to pour--and pour hard. It hadn't rained like this for some time; there were a few very minor misty sprinkles over the past week, but nothing like this. Finally, I broke down and cried. It seemed as if all--including Mother Nature herself--were mourning her death. After a Catholic priest came to visit and stay for half an hour, my dad and I started discussing whether to get the Buddhist monks to chant; it was something we had meant to do the past week, but he could not get a hold of his friend. So we started making calls. It was around 2 pm when we were told that two  monks would arrive.

 

In the meantime, my dad had me buy lunch. I had no appetite--and this was probably one of the rare occasions. I wondered how on earth could dad even think of eating right after Mom's passing?

 

We waited and waited for the monks to arrive: no answer except that "they were on the way."  By 3:30 pm, the nurse was already trying to rush us out--which I thought was insensitive. As it was, my mom was never that well taken cared of during her entire illness--and now that she died, they were pushing us out. As 4:30 came and went, we told the monks not to come: it was really too late to chant for her spirit (which supposedly has to happen while she is still alive) and we were planning to have some sort of Buddhist ceremony at her funeral or memorial service anyway. 

 

The most heartbreaking moments came as we were about to leave--sometime around 5 ish.    I began taking some pictures from my ipad when the nurse reentered and offered to do so: this went on for some 10 minutes. I temporarily removed mom's ring from my finger and put it on hers for one of the pics. 

 

Finally, I called one of the Taiwanese folks to give us ride back. I naturally had to go downstairs first to find her before calling up my dad since he required a wheelchair for the long distance between the cancer ward and the entrance: but not before I kissed Mom over and over, telling her I loved her and was so, so sorry. I must have had at least two final looks at her before leaving her--for once and for all. 

 

I can only wonder what Dad thought when he was left alone. This was his wife for some 55 years. He had been with her and known her far longer than I had--probably close to 70 years.  What must it be like to see your high school sweetheart die?

 

As I went downstairs, switching elevators, I heard the mechanical piano playing Schubert's Ave Maria. What a poignant coincidence: you have to understand that the mechanical piano had always struck me from the very first time we visited Mom as she was recovering from her first stroke. And now it was marking her exit from the world. 

 

After 20 minutes, dad and I were on the way home. The rain had stopped as we entered our house.

 

I still felt so numb. Couldn't believe that dad wanted to exercise on the treadmill while my head was in a dizzying spin, worried about all that we would have to do in the following weeks. I felt I could barely muster the strength to tell my students that my mother had died--and that I would not be responding to any posts over the weekend. I also had to start preparing a 45-minute presentation for a college on behalf of one of my organizations: since I knew I was not going to be there, I had to complete it by the following night in order to give it to a fellow member to read aloud for me.

 

Some of the folks in the Taiwanese community brought us soup: since the news of my mom's death that morning had been emailed to everyone. One pastor came with her husband.

 

I think the lifesavers, though, that weekend were my cousin and aunt. They arrived much later than scheduled given a combined 6-hour delay in Ohio and New York: they made me feel far less alone on that day. It was as if I had pieces of my Mom by proxy, especially since the aunt--my mom's cousin--was very close to her. Together that weekend, they helped clean my kitchen as I worked on my presentation. 

 

As I look at the clock now--12:05 pm, I know my mom has passed exactly a year ago and some 20 minutes.

 

Mom, it has been such a tough road without you. I knew it would be painful to suffer your loss as I was helping you in your last few months, but little did I anticipate this level of grief, where some days feel just as raw as the day you left. Not a day goes by without some memory or recollection of you. Not one day goes by without some tears. Mom you were my everything and you will always be my everything. You have been the one source of meaning in my life, if not only.

 

And yet, in my less unhappy moments, I also feel blessed--amazingly blessed. Blessed to have had such a beautiful mother, inside and out: one whom many of my friends referred to as a "moon goddess."  So beautiful she didn't need make-up. And more importantly, I was blessed to have known someone so exceptionally intelligent, yet so generous and selfless.  Thank you, mom--thank you, Cecelia--for supporting us through all of our trials and tribulations. You really were our very own St. Cecelia--the patron saint of music, the music in our lives, our very joy and peace.

 

You were our amazing grace. Just like the lyrics in that favorite hymn of yours, one which you would always sing along with, you faced your share of dangers, toils, and snares. And you did it with such grace.  Thank you too for making our triumphs possible. As I've said quite often here, I'm not religious at all. And yet, I feel ever thankful for the amazing grace of the forces--divine or not--which sent us this miracle of a mother. Mother, you have been our angel on earth, our very own St. Cecilia, singing your sweet songs; so I like to think you are now with the heavenly chorus above. 

 

This is for you, Mom--and for all those mourning a loss. It is Schubert's Ave Maria, orchestrated and depicted in Disney's Fantasia--so hauntingly beautiful. I had always wished she'd seen this with me.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8xXkB-ncF2g

 

Bless you, Mom--forever.

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Thank you, Eve--yesterday was a real rollercoaster of emotions.

 

I cried a lot: there's no denying it. It was a beautiful, sunny day, but towards the late afternoon, I started becoming so depressed again as I thought of so many other afternoons just like yesterday--especially when I was sorting things in my cats' room...except that mom was still around.

 

As I washed dishes, thoughts of mom in the hospital drifted back like they always do, but this time there was more weight and anguish, reminding me that all we did was of little avail. All the hopes, all the dreams. Then as I cooked, I thought of all the appreciation she used to show and how happy she was. I will never see that again. I know I shouldn't be thinking like that, but how could I help it on the anniversary of my mom's passing? Stress didn't help either.

 

I guess that's probably what hurts the most at this moment. Knowing that I will never have those days again with mom--or indeed, with anyone else. Knowing I will never go out since I hate going out by myself, especially at this juncture.

 

I only lost some of the blues when I got back into my work: which I need to return to right now! But I will be back to say more.

 

Eve, how are you faring with the approach of your mom's angelversary? How was your aunt and cousin? I know that seeing them will not heal all wounds, but I'm hoping that their presence will be like a favorite balm--especially since your aunt is your mom's favorite sister. 

 

I tell you I love your idea of the 80 balloons. It would be such a superb celebration of a vibrant woman. I like that you've told me of her, Eve, and wish I knew her personally! I hope you will have pics for us!

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By now it's been a year and nearly two weeks since the passing of my mom. 

 

Yesterday, we went out for my dad's blood test. We ate at the restaurant we normally eat at. As usual, there were plenty of older women: women at least my mom's age. They looked happy, healthy, well-dressed, and well-off: obviously, they had been well taken care of.

 

OK, to tell the truth, I don't know that there are always so many women over 82, but I guess it's inevitable that I pay a lot of attention to this now. No, I don't begrudge them as I'd hate to think of other people mourning the loss of their moms--but it made me feel that much more resentful of my dad all over again. 

 

Can't help but think of all those wonderful husbands and fathers who live for their families, placing them above all else. All those who remain faithful to their wives. Encourage their children and support them in every endeavor. Those who earn as much as they possibly can to ensure the financial wellbeing of their families: no wonder so many wives outlive their husbands. No doubt, few of these women are married to scumbags like my dad who only cares about his asshole parents and his kunt cousin mistress: he should NEVER HAVE MARRIED MOM and had children as I HATE being his daughter and seeing his features in my face!  I hate EVERYONE ON HIS SIDE OF THE FAMILY AND CURSE THEM ROYALLY EVERY NIGHT! If there's any reason for me to commit suicide, this is actually already plenty.

 

If it weren't for him, she might still be alive. I hate him for cheating on her. Taking advantage of her forgiveness and care for him. I hate him for not listening to us and making all the mistakes I anticipated. I hate the way he continues to be so uncooperative and so stupid--even though I tell him each and every day to REMEMBER THAT HE KILLED MOM. AND HE OUGHT TO BEAR THAT IN MIND EVERY MORNING, EVERY NOON, AND EVERY NIGHT before he thinks of destroying me any further by crapping all over the bathroom and tracking it everywhere so I have to spend so many unnecessary hours cleaning. I HATE NOT BEING PAID FOR THIS!  Sometimes i almost hate my mom for marrying and putting up with him for over 60 years: cheater, slacker, poor wage earner, dumb and unassertive male kunt in public, but pushy at home. SO UNLIKE OTHER COMPARABLY EDUCATED AMERICAN MEN!  No, it's clear that HE KILLED OUR FAMILY, ESPECIALLY MOM!

 

Anyway, this evening as I went out to dump the garbage, I couldn't help thinking of mom all over again and how much I miss her. Of course, I always feel a little depressed by evening, but I always feel especially so whenever I have to do garbage: and particularly after having gone out yesterday and seeing those women. WHY DO OTHERS STILL HAVE THEIR MOMS WHEN THEY ARE ALREADY HAPPY?!  It made me think of all those other evenings when mom was in the kitchen preparing the meals. Or the times she stood at the door, making sure no wild animals were prowling about. (IMO, the only wild animal is my idiot dad, half human, half gorilla! I hate his ugly gorilla, chimpanzee family. Stinking savages!)

 

GODDAMN MY FATHER!!!!!!!!!

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Lisa k   

Hi silver, You do make me laugh with the way you put things ( no offence meant) . I often find myself wishing i had a father that gave a **** instead of just donating his vile sperm, especially now my mum is dead but i guess there is no point in wishing for something that will never happen. Does your dad have a bowel incontinence problem? .Maybe get him some adult nappies to wear. I had to use them on my mum towards the end. I kinda get the crapping thing LOL. My mum had an incedent where the nurses gave her suppositeries because she hadn't been to the toilet in two weeks from all the morphine.Boy did they make her go. It was everywhere so much i never seen so much crap. My poor mum couldn't move she was too weak, so my brother and i had to carry her from the bed to the bathroom and hose her in the shower. I actually threw up more than once and i was up all night cleaning the mess up. All through the hall , her bed and clothes.I laugh about it now when i think of it but not at the time of course. The nurses rang me the next morning and asked if it did the job. My reply was, If you ever give them to my mum again you can shove them up your own arse. Is your dad unable to clean up himself?

I also hate all of my dad's side of the family. They are a bunch of arseholes and if i was desperate for help i would rather live in the gutter before i asked them. Haven't spoken to any of them in over 10 years and that's the way it can stay. They've no idea my mum is dead.Not that they would care of course but i wish it was all them that died.Isn't there any family to help with your dad to give you a break.

I'm sorry you have reached the year mark and eve too.

 

Lisa k

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