Sunday, June 08, 2003

Almost losing Mom

On Friday night, I thought my mother had started the spiral down toward death that occupied the last 8 years of my father's life. A call from my sister in Florida alerted me that my sister in St. Louis discovered my mother at her home, with her face paralyzed. "I haven't been able to use my mouth all day," my mother reported, but she hadn't sought any help. Is this a death wish? Is it a sincere desire to avoid bothering others? Is it a pathetic, sad vestige of growing up powerless? I don't know, but, the fact is she sat there all day, probably wondering if she was dying, and she did not call for help.

So, I got a call from one concerned sister. We didn't know what was going on, and she promised to call when she knew what was up. I watched the movie we had rented, and tried to pay attention, despite the thoughts that kept running through my mind. It seemed likely it was a stroke, though the fact she had survived all day made it seem likely it was not as bad a stroke as the one that reduced my father to a speechless cripple. But, still, it seemed to be the beginning of the end.

I slept with the phone by my bed, but didn't hear anything until morning. Bell's palsy - an inflammation of the facial muscles, treatable with drugs, and certainly non-life-threatening. No big deal, really. But, for an evening, I thought my Mom was disappearing.

Sometimes I feel like such a bad son. I never visit, and my irregular calls are usually multi-tasked with TV or some amusement. We have not really ever been close. But, Friday night, I thought she was beginning the death process. Now I know I have a limited time with her - maybe enough time to change our relationship.


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