My Ruthie

Margot Wark

Mother's Day, Sunday, May 12, 1996, I'm so full of love and fear and pain. The doctor suspects colon cancer and I have a terrible secret. He referred her to the surgeon. Her appointment is Wednesday. But this news can wait until tomorrow. Let her enjoy today. Her final Mother's Day.

April, we're in the hospital, operation day is here, and I wait isolated in this barren room scared and alone. Someone will call me when the operation is over. She's my mom, my strength, my confidant, and friend. I think agonies of thoughts and I pray. I wait for hours, for the dreaded call to come. Oh God, oh no, oh please it can't be; it's CANCER! Oh my precious mother has only three months to live. Oh Sweet Jesus, please don't let her suffer. I'm afraid she'll linger with indignities and pain.

Oh my God! She's going to die! She's going to leave me! We have to tell her ourselves, my sister, my husband, Bob and me. She can't hear this from the doctor, a distant and remote stranger. Fear and pain hit me in waves. I'm so terribly lost. I can't wake from this terrible nightmare. We make arrangements with Hospice, those angels of mercy; and she can stay with us in our home, as pain free as possible. Time seems to stand still; my mind lost in an endless haze; how are we going to get through this? She struggles so courageously, but she tells me she is so scared. Her humor, and grace remain intact. Often we have fun, we joke and laugh, Bob, my mother and me. Bob is ingenious with dialects, creative in his brand of humor and we all play along, and for a time we have fun -- until reality sets in again.

She refers to her fears as when she visits the dark places. They are private places, she won't take me there. I feel so helpless. I feel so hopeless. I can't protect her during her visits. I climb in bed with her -- my mommy -- her 52-year-old child. We snuggle, talk, and cuddle. Sometimes she tells me about a dream she had the night before. Like the one about the train that keeps passing her by while she waits at the station to go on some pleasure trip. This train keeps coming but doesn't stop. The smiling, friendly ladies aboard keep passing her by, waving and telling her it's not her turn to board the train yet. We agree this means it's not her time yet.

June 13th, her fifth great-grandchild is born. New life--impending death. She holds them simultaneously, death at arms length--new life close to her heart.

Her days wane. Now she's so frail and weak it's hard to understand her whisper. I can't stand it. It hurts too much! Her gaze often drifts out the window or towards the ceiling at something or someone only she can see, and I begin to realize she is seeing eternity and her time here on earth is limited. We begin the awful task of asking her to let go. Part of me wishes she would let go for her sake but my heart screams, Mom, please get well, don't go!" I hang on to my wonderful husband, and the incredible Hospice team that have sustained us throughout this ordeal.

August 12, 1996, my mother, Ruth G. Peterson died the way she lived, with dignity, valor and grace.

Margot Wark

You can send email to Margot at: [email protected]
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anniversary date 8-12-96
date of post 4-18-99

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Crisis, Grief, and Healing: Tom Golden LCSW