In December of 1996 I got a call at work from my mother's boss. My Mom had been taken to emergency care after experiencing a possible stroke. Later I was informed that it was not a stroke but, cancer that had spread from breast to bone and was then assaulting her brain. She was given a week to live. I immediately traveled from Seattle to Southern California to see her.
I am known for having a brain like a sponge but, lately I have found it difficult to remember childhood things. All those memories are very gray. What I do remember is the look on my Mother's face when I walked into her hospital room. Even though she was visibly gaunt and weighing well under 80 lb.. her smile lit up the room. I remember holding her tiny frame of a body and not wanting to let go -- EVER.
In the few days I was able to stay with her she didn't complain much. Mostly about hospital food as she sent me on my daily mission of getting a chocolate shake and cheeseburger. I massaged body lotion into her legs and arms as she vowed to fight "this". And fought she did. Without complaint.
On February 20th, 1997 I said my good-bye's to my mother over a phone,(I could not get the money to fly back out in time to see her again), with only her labored breathing as an indication of whether she was hearing me or not. I told her I loved her and it was time for her to rest and to visit me when she found the time. I asked her to not to worry. As she began to breathe faster I added, "You are a great Mom," she passed on six hours later.
It is typical, I hear, for the "survivor" to feel guilty; to wonder about the what ifs.
I know my Mom is still here, with me. The songs we sang together when I was child come on more often than they used to. Sometimes I cry. Sometimes I have to stop and smile and look around because I swear, I feel her there.
"...our memories alone will get us through. Try to find the days of me and you....."
You and Me Against The World -- Helen Reddy
Christine, --daughter of Patricia Wagner Gatewood 6/13/1944-2/20/1997
You can send email to Christine at: [email protected]
anniversary date 02-20-97
date of post 05-19-97