January 20, 2017

Yesterday my daughter and I made oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. Aside from the fact that they are now staring at me from across the kitchen, I am happy that we took the time to bake them.

When I was young all of the treats that we had were homemade. My mom was an amazing baker and considered store bought cookies “trash”. Cookies, muffins, bars, loaves and scones. Yummy.

Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies were definitely a favorite for all of us and disappeared quickly. I remember my mom attempting to slow down the cookie consumption by putting them in the freezer. Wrong. That just made them better.

We should really bake more often. It’s easy, it’s fun and it creates great memories…..but it also creates situations like this. Me sitting in the kitchen being stared down by a plate of cookies thinking about my mom.

The Best Thing in Life is fresh oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.  Miss you mom.

Mom

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Tonight it hit me.  Tonight the tears fell.  

It’s been three days since my mom died.  

I finally realized why I haven’t  gone through my photos to find the perfect picture for the reception.  Why I haven’t decided on a caterer.  Why I have told people it was “for the best” that she wasn’t suffering anymore. Why I have gone to work and kept busy.

It was because I didn’t want it not be true.  I didn’t want it to be real.

I didn’t want my mom to be dead.

But she is. My sweet, feisty, occasionally inappropriate, mom is dead.   Not passed away.  She hated that expression.  She always used to say.

“People don’t pass away.  They die.”

The first time I walked into the apartment after she died I was shocked to find that she wasn’t there.  Where was she?   Why wasn’t she sitting at her desk?  Why didn’t I hear her voice?  Why was I only making one cup of tea with honey?

I have lost my comfort person.  The person I call when life sucks.  The person who always picks up and knows that something is wrong before you even speak.  And right now I need my comfort person.  Because right now life sucks.

She was so brave in these last weeks.  She tolerated the imaginable and still kept her sense of humor.  

At one point my brother, bless his heart, was trying to get her to take a sip of water from a straw.  On the fourth attempt I could see the exasperation in his face.  He really wanted….needed her to take some water.  She was having none of it.  Without even opening her eyes she put her hand up and said “Piss off”.   Classic mom.

I know that she is still here with me in her own special way.  Telling me that it’s going to be okay.  Maybe she’s right.  She usually was.  

The Best Thing in Life is that I will have eighty four years of memories to keep me company.  But tonight, the tears will continue to fall.  

The Upside of Technology

technology

Technology is an amazing thing.  It’s a bit ridiculous really, when you think about how far we have come in the past ten to twenty years.  We’ve gone from huge main frames to pcs to laptops to smart phones to iPads to Google Glasses in what feels like the blink of an eye.  Technology has truly changed the way we live our lives.

It does, however, sometimes get a bad rap.

For example, many feel that the increase in screen time has numbed the minds of our young.  I read an article recently comparing screen time to heroin for young children.  I personally believe that if a balance can be found with physical activity and a creative outlet, that it can’t hurt.  Don’t get me wrong, it can suck our little ones in and hold on tight if not managed properly, pulling them into a massive black hole.

Then there is the issue of distracted driving.  Not an problem until a few years ago, but now a growing concern.  The number of fatalities from distracted driving has now surpassed that of impaired driving in Canada.  Yet people still do it. I see it every single day.  Young, old, male and female.  And I know they now better because when they see me glaring at them in their cars at the stop light, they quickly put their phones away.  Ya, I do that.

But today I saw the undeniable upside of technology.  I arranged for my 83 year old mother to Skype with her twin brother who lives in England.  Neither my mom or my uncle have been able to fly for a number of years and as such have not seen each other in a long time.  Being twins they have always had a close relationship and despite regular phone calls my mom felt a bit disconnected from him.

So a Skype call was arranged.  In my mom’s eyes I performed a miracle, but in all honesty all it took was a few emails and the installation of a new app on my iPad.

The looks on their faces as they realized that they could see each another and talk to each other while sitting in their kitchens was beyond priceless.

“Your face looks fatter.”  My mom said not so tactfully.

“You’ve lost weight.  You look more like our mother now.”  He replied.

They talked about my uncles new great grandson and how his wife was doing in the facility she now lived in.  Nothing earth shattering, but you could see, and hear, that they were beyond thrilled to be on the call.  I think my mom wanted to reach out and touch the screen a few times just to make sure that it was real.  That it really was her brother on the screen and not just a mirage.

She kept saying.  “I can’t believe I can see you so clearly.”

Roughly five thousand miles away and eight hours time difference, but to them, they might as well have been in the same room. Today I saw how technology could simply make my mom’s day.  That is The Best Thing in Life and we should never take it for granted.

 

Call Your Mom

mom boat

Just before Christmas my dad called and said that he had taken my mom to the hospital. She was having trouble breathing so they were running some tests. She was on oxygen and feeling okay by the time he left to go home. He was really calm and matter of fact so I assumed there was no huge emergency. I had an appointment close to the hospital that morning so I stopped by with a couple of magazines for her to read. She was off the oxygen, sitting up in bed and looked normal. I left the hospital and called my dad to tell him that she wanted her cell phone. She went home later that day and we waited for the outcome of her tests. Congestive heart failure. Not great news, but manageable and we all enjoyed a happy holiday season. Small sigh of relief.

Now its February and she is back in the hospital. Her heart was the original concern but after some preliminary testing they are doing more tests on her digestive system and monitoring her heart. She also has Parkinson’s Disease. Just to complicate things. She’s been in the hospital for almost a week now and I’m kind of having a hard time with it. I feel confused and scared and I just want it all to stop. I want the doctors to figure out what’s wrong with her and fix it damn it. Okay, so maybe add angry to that list of things I’m feeling. What if the results are bad? What if she needs surgery? She’s 82 years old and surgery would put extra pressure on her heart. What if her heart can’t take it?

mom skiing

So I’m doing what I typically do when I’m avoiding something bad. I’m cleaning the house. Top to bottom, bathrooms, floors, kitchen. Anything to stop thinking about it. The hardest time is trying to get to sleep at night. As I lie in my cozy bed I can’t help but think about my mom lying in the hospital. Uncomfortable bed, noises from the hall and nurses station, monitors glowing above her and side effect from the medications she is on. She’s putting on a brave face but I know how miserable she is and I want to help her. She was the one who always made me comfortable when I was sick. She’s the one who brought down all those high fevers I suffered from. She’s always been the one to make me feel better. I have taken her cookies, a crossword puzzle book, some sushi but it all seems so futile. I want to make all the icky stuff go away like she used to do for me.

In a lot of ways all of this would be easier if I was a religious person. I would have an outlet for my feelings and somebody to pray to. Maybe I could resign myself to the fact that this was God’s plan. And if it was serious, and she did pass away, I would know that she was in heaven and at peace. But I’m not religious and I don’t really know how to handle it. I’m a black and white person. I like things in neat packages and I like having all my questions answered. And not with “we don’t know yet”. I don’t have anything to turn to and make this earlier. I don’t have answers and there really is very little that I can do. Now I know why some people drink.

So this is what it all boils down to. The fact that it’s totally out of not only my hands, but anybody’s hands. It’s just that I’m not ready for this. I know she’s not going to die today. Probably not even this week. But this is the first time I’ve thought that it could happen. I can’t help but feel like this is the beginning of the end. I don’t want to feel that way but I do. She could very well be around for another ten years. But even that’s just not long enough for me. I don’t want her to die. There I said it. She drives me crazy sometimes but I’m not ready for her not to be there to drive me crazy.

So in the words of recent Oscar winner J.K. Simmons…..call your mom. Go. Do it now.