My mother died on July 13, 2011. Six days after my birthday, and five days before my fathers. They are/were no longer married at this point. They have been divorced for 40 years or so. Not sure why that matters. Perhaps the span of days between her death and our birthdays. I always think of numbers. The last few days, I have been emerging from the cocoon I had wrapped myself in since the moment she first challenged death. It was a month of touch and go, as the saying goes, before she succumbed to death. It was her wish to not be saved beyond abnormal measures. It was my wish for her to survive, despite her odds. I wrapped myself up into my cocoon, and I am only now venturing out.
My first sister(second child), and I were born on the seventh day of different months. My half siblings were each born on the 29th of different months. My mom and her best friend had their children one month apart, each born on the 7th. My husband's mother was born in April, just as my mother and stepmother were. Our father's were each born in July. My first sister was born in the month of April. Since my birthday is in July, before the date of my father's, he always jokes that I am older then he is. Fat chance, dad. My mom always thought these dates were interesting. Perhaps odd. But, she understood.
I am the oldest child, as I have stated in prior posts. Since I have my own health issues and I have paid a good deal of attention during my mom's nurse training years, she enlisted me as her Medical Power of Attorney. My sister was her Financial P.O.A.. Mom made the correct choices. Though, there were definitely times I did not want to be her P.O.A. of anything! Now I truly understand why my mom was angry with her mother for so long. Not that she hadn't explained why. I couldn't understand her anger, until she gave in to her own body. Then I understood her anger towards her mom.
Her mom started showing weakness in her later years. She didn't have a choice. She was in her late 80's. Grandma had multiple health issues. I believe they started to effect her thoughts. She doubted some of the things I did and others did. However, regardless, she was my unconditional love and trust, but my mom had "history" with her(as she liked to say), and could not love as unconditionally. Do not get me wrong, she loved her mother. When grandma died we were all devastated. It was unfortunate that my mom spent her later years angry with her mother for "getting old".
My sister and I didn't have a chance to get angry with our mom for getting old. I did, however get a chance to be angry with her for a number of other things. I got to be angry for her getting frustrated with my grandma's health, while she did not take care of her own. She was a Registered Nurse and she knew better. She, like me, had a strong mother who showed weakness toward the end of their lives. Neither of us liked it. Where we both heard, from our mother's, "you'll live", "get over it", and other various euphonisms, we couldn't stand to see our mothers change their tune and give in. I knew that she gave her grandmother slack, just like I did. She wanted her mother to be like her mother, my mom's grandmother, towards her children. Mom, where ever you are tonight, she was for me.
Where my mom was "toughen up", my grandmother was, to me, come here and let me fix things for you. Where my mom had no tolerance for any weakness, getting angry with me for some of the illnesses I had, my grandmother chose to love me. I do not believe my mom wasn't loving me. When I had my ulcers, my mom was very matter of fact and you need to do this. My grandmother cooked my strawberries and cut off the seeds so that I, too, could eat them. I know she wasn't that way, in earlier years, with my mom. I often wonder if that is how I am with my children. I try not to be. However, in the back of my mind, I see myself getting angry when my children tell me they are sick or hurt. I fall just short of telling them to "suck it up".
When my mom had her last heart attack, I stood at the end of her bed in partial anger. It was difficult not to be her caretaker, but I was angry with her. She told me she would never lead me to this spot. That I would not have to suffer the pain she did while watching her parents. I told her that. I will never know if she heard me. I never got the opportunity to ask. There were four I.V. machines with a great amount of medicine. She lived a month after her triple bypass and out of that month, we had one week to communicate before she said goodbye for the final time. She was 64. The older I get, the younger that seems. Though I understand all the reasons for her choosing not to be revived, and I can be logical, it felt like failure. This beautiful, strong woman, who put herself through nursing school while raising two children on her own…this woman who told me to never gave up, gave up. Regardless of all the great reasons she had for meeting her maker, I was lost.
I, myself, the one who rarely drank, started drinking Red wine every night. Sometimes a bottle a night. To know how significant this is, I do not drink because I like to remain in control. I had seen alcohol cause dire consequences in family I loved, in friends I loved. Yet, when she became so sick that it seemed almost inevitable that she would not survive, I started drinking. It is not a proud moment for me. I have a history of depression. I knew that this wouldn't help. But, for a brief time, it numbed the hurt, the tremendous sense of loss.
I started shutting down. I went through the daily motions. I stopped talking to friends and family. With very few exceptions, I did not speak to anyone outside of my home. If I did, it was usually via email, texting or facebook. Eventually, I started writing. First it was in the emails when I let others know what was happening with her. Later, it was this blog. That was the best I could do, but it did seem to help. Then, when it seemed it would not improve beyond where I was at, I called my doctor.
I have fought depression, in good times and bad, for over 40 years. Her death, basically, kicked my butt. I knew I needed to get better for the people around me(they deserved better). I finally called my doctor. He wondered why I waited so long. Apparently, I do have my mother's and grandmother's obstinate traits and desire to "make believe" everything will be fine.
So, yes, I am using medicine to help me function. It helps me think. It does not help me do cartwheels. It helps with the energy, which, in turn, helps me get out. I started reaching out, making calls, that I was too frozen to make before. Most of all, it is getting me be back to some sort of normalcy. My children, out of everyone, deserve this. Unfortunately, the stigma of depression and medicine still lives within society. I had a choice, face societies disapproval, or lose my life. And, yes, it did come down to that. Despite the fact that I would never want to burden my children with that memory, it did come way too close for comfort. In the end, the only opinion that mattered, was my own.
So, with a little chemical help, I am opening up and not shutting down. My mom's death left me feeling alone, like a lost child. Holidays are coming up, and I knew it would only get worse. All of the plans I made to get healthy as I possibly could after her death, would not happen without this help. Ok, maybe it would happen, but not before major damage was done. I am finding my wings. I am opening up. I am finding I have wings, and without losing the memory of her, I am getting stronger. Much stronger.
See, you are a strong woman, just like the women in your family that came before you…just like I always knew you were! I’m glad you are finding your wings and learning to fly. I am glad you are getting the help you need and not feeling ashamed. I am glad you realized the wine wasn’t going to help. We may not be blood, but we are sisters in our hearts…have been since we met and always will be. You are very important to me and I love you!