My mother, born in Jacksonville, Florida in 1923, went Home on August 5, 2002 in New York City. She had a stroke on July 8, 2002 and passed away after a month of recuperating in a rehabilitation nursing facility from cardiac arrest. Even though she was 75% paralyzed on her left side, we all had hope that she would walk out of the hospital. The amazing part about this beautiful, twenty year cancer survivor with five cancer operations under her belt, a retired junior high school English teacher, a mother of one daughter, one grandson, one great grandson, and a saint of a wife for 59 years is that she kept saying that she wanted to "go home." My father and I would visit Mom in the hospital and her small right stocking foot would be sticking out from under the covers of her hospital bed. She needed assistance to walk to the restroom. She was unable to stand. We told her that she would have to continue with physical therapy so that she would be strong enough to come home with us. She would try, painstakenly, with therapy. She said she didn't want to go anymore. No one listened. We didn't listen. Mom didn't say she wanted to "come home." She said she wanted to "Go Home!"
Lois Williams was my role model. I, too, am a junior high school English teacher. Mom loved jazz and played the piano beautifully. Her favorite song was "Stardust" and she loved the music of the 40's with the big band sound of Count Basie and Glenn Miller. She loved to crochet. She made dresses and throws. Now, she had slurred speech. She could not even brush her long shiny hair. This intelligent and artistically creative woman of 79 was angry and embarrassed. She felt she had become, as she put it, "The Village Idiot." She was tired and she wanted to Go Home. When she finally did go Home, I felt paralyzed in my quest to avoid giving in to my devastation.
Mom was everything to me. I live In Washington, DC. We talked everyday on the phone, twice a day on the average, from DC to New York. My phone bill has been more than my mortgage. She was my life.
"If there's anything I can do...." is the refrain that people tell you after a death. But they soon disappear because your existence makes them uncomfortable. It validates the inevitability of the death of loved ones and ones own mortality becomes magnified. I am grateful to be among those who have been there and who understand and share my pain. Thank you for the privilege
Barbara Lois Fullard