Day 279/365 Recline, then Bloom

Maybe it’s because she’s always hated reclining chairs.

My mother has impeccable taste, both in her home and on her person. Owning a reclining chair was, for many years, tantamount to wearing sweatpants…

It’s just something she would never do.

I’m not really sure how the (very tasteful) recliner ended up in my parents’ den, but I imagine it had something to do with my mother having loved my father enough to agree to own it…as long as it was to remain in the back room, where no one else would see it.

When I went to visit her yesterday and found her in it, wrapped in a blanket like a small child, the image threw me. She seemed so small. My mother is only about 5’2″, so to be fair, she is small – but her presence, a walking contradiction of grace and will – to me, is large.

It struck me how far she appeared to be from herself…from the strong, non-sweatpant wearing, ever-moving, recliner-loathing woman that she is.

She’s had a cold this week, on top off some ass-kicking (hopefully cancer-kicking) chemo. This path to wellness is not an easy one…and I can’t help but think how hard it has been for her, having had only eight months to adjust to being a widow, before having to adjust to being a widow with cancer.

Life can be fucking cruel.

Still she’ll smile and say, “We had a great run,” as if all of those years of happiness were the result of a bargain she’d made with the devil, and now she’s just paying her dues.

There are bound to be many more days in the recliner (and maybe even some days in sweatpants…you never know) before she rids herself of these tumors – these very rude and unwelcome new roommates…but she will prevail.

I know she will.

Today when I walked into the house just before 8am she was up and ready to cross some things off of her to-do list before she gets whacked with chemo again tomorrow. I am not sure whether she got to those things, but I was encouraged that she was thinking about it.

Mom has always hated winter, and I imagine she would prefer to just sleep through these next couple of months – to hibernate for the winter and wake up in the Spring like one of her daffodil bulbs. She can’t do that, of course, and so she is fighting…and sometimes that looks like being curled up in a recliner, and that is okay.

We might even give her a pass on the sweatpants, too.

She is going to get to the other side of this…and when that garden that she has so lovingly planted and carefully tended for all these years comes back into bloom,

So will she.

mom in garden

 

Day 238/365 The Elephant Revealed

“…and so I start chemo next week,” she said, exhaling.

My heart started racing the moment she told me I should sit down. Then it all became a blur of words like “tumors” and “biopsies”.  I struggled to bring this information into focus – to process what she was saying.

She has cancer.

She’d known for a month. She’d gone to all the tests and consultations before telling any of us. She didn’t want to ruin the summer, she said. “You had so many fun things planned. Why would I want you to spend the month worrying and waiting for test results? Besides, it would have ruined my summer too…all the sad, worried faces.”

“Mom, I can’t believe you’ve been going through all of this alone.”

“I wasn’t alone,” she said, “Your father was with me.”

I crumbled.

Initially I was angry at her for not telling us right away, although I soon realized I probably would have done the same exact thing. We’ve all been through so much. She wanted to spare us all until she had all of the facts – a plan of action, answers to the questions.

I wasn’t angry at her. I was just really f’ing angry. Period.

When is enough, enough? Can’t we cry “UNCLE”?

It had only been eight months since dad died from a heart attack.img_3696 My parents met when they were fifteen. Twenty years ago he had a heart attack, and she had breast cancer. Obviously they both survived that time around, but now…it was all lining up too eerily. I couldn’t help but think that maybe they are simply a matched set, meant to be together. It is a thought that is both romantic, and terrifying.

Not her, too.

However…

The thing about my mother is, she is one of the strongest women I know. If she sets her mind to doing something, she will find a way, from moving an enormous piece of furniture she has NO business moving on her own (because she couldn’t wait for my father to get home! Lord, no!), to starting her own business, to standing up to a bully neighbor.

When it comes to cancer, she is already a survivor. 

If she doesn’t believe she is ready to leave this Earth, I have to believe she isn’t going anywhere. Not without a hell of a fight.

So, we have our weekly “date” at the infusion center, she and I. Every single week she tells me to just drop her off and go home…or to the mall, or something (the chemo infusion takes 3-4 hours).

The thing about stubborn, strong women is that they tend to birth other stubborn, strong women. So of course I insist on sitting there with her, whether she likes it or not.

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Mom, I can’t do this for you (not that you’d let me), but I can do it with you.

We’ve got this.