Mom’s Adventure

The surgery had taken longer than we expected.  The doctor had said three and a half hours but after Mom’s extended stay in the “recovery” room we were creeping up on five.  The surgery had been a success, of this we had been reassured.  However, she was slow to wake up and she would still be heavily medicated when we would finally be able to see her.   My father, sister and I started to anxiously pace.  Time had slowed to a stand still and every opening of the waiting room door would cause us to involuntarily whip our heads around.  Finally, the nurse, in a deceivingly pleasant tone ushered us into my mother’s hospital room.

The room was brightly lit and although she was awake she was hardly aware of her surroundings.  My father, large and lumbering tucked his tears back into his eyes as he gently touched my Mother and let her know we were there.  She quietly stirred and in a panic filled voice asked, “is it over?”  She would ask this question countless times over the next 24 hours incapable of holding onto any thought long enough to keep it.  Each time we would reassure her that yes, it was over, that the surgery had been a success and that she would be on the mend soon enough.  She begged my sister and I to promise that we would not leave her side and we pledged our obedience again and again. We would not leave. We would stay by her side.

The next 48 hours proved challenging as Mom slipped in and out of lucidity.  Sometimes reminding us to not let the dog get out, or complaining that she was tired and needed to go to bed, even though she was already in bed.  However, it was in the middle of those sometimes laughable moments that my sister and I discovered Mom’s true fears.

We mentioned that David and Marvin were going to be coming by to say “hi” and Mom grew quite concerned.  “Why are they coming by?” she demanded.  “They love you and they just want to see how you are doing”.  She gathered her strength as her eyebrows knitted together into obvious concern, “Why are they coming? What is wrong? What aren’t you telling me?” My sister and I exchanged confused looks, “nothing is wrong Mom. Were not hiding anything.”  This was not good enough and my Mother quickly grew angry.  She started to shout “What is wrong? Why are they coming? I know you are hiding something from me?” The recognition of her concern washed over me and it became my turn to brush my tears under the rug.  My Mother thought she was dying and nobody was telling her.

This woman who raised three children, never asking or saving anything for herself.  This woman, who sacrificed EVERYTHING from her body to her heart in the name of her children and husband. This woman who hid every sign of weakness from all of her children under the mask of being a tough, brutal, broad was lying in front of me frightened of her own death.

I took a deep breath, gently held my Mother’s hand and said, “Mom, you are not dying. The doctor said the surgery went just fine, the boys are coming just to say ‘hi’.”  Her tears leaked down her face onto her pillow as she quietly confessed “I was afraid they would find cancer once they opened me up”.  The idea would have seemed laughable if she hadn’t been so obviously frightened. “No Mom. No cancer. No nothing. You are fine, outside of the six screws and two metal rods. If you want to worry about something try the metal detector at the airport. Security is going to be a bitch now.”  She squeaked a smile and went back to sleep.

4 thoughts on “Mom’s Adventure”

  1. Beth – You were right, this did make me teary. Such a beautiful post, laced with the wonderful Callaway humor at the end (of course!). It’s so scary to see our strong (invincible?) parents in a place of vulnerability, and so glad you could be there, to in essence, be a mother to your own wonderful mother in this tough moment. -Alexandra

  2. Very well written, easily recognized by those of us that have been in that odd situation of seeing seemingly superhero parents reduced to frightened vulnerability…

  3. Very touching Beth. It made your mom cry. You have no real idea how much you and your sister touched your mom’s (and my my) heart. For the first time in our lives Mom and I have found ourselves needing both physical and emotional support. and you and Stacy went far far beyond our expectations. As I grow older (and hopefully wiser) I realize that life comes in phases and we are in each phase before we realize it — if we ever realize it at all. We spend the greater part of our lives in the “parent” phase where we provide, support, and protect our children and others. Then some event happens — which in our case was your Mom’s surgery — and you realize that your parental responsibilites are gone and you are dependent. Suddenly the strength and protection no longer comes from within but from your children who now have control and offer you the protection and support you once gave to them. As parents we love our children and never expect anything in return (well donuts on occasion) but eventually we all come to the point in life where we can no longer carry the burden and our children must take it up. Both you and your sister took control, handled things, and provided the physical and emotional support we needed and I was no longer able to provide. We could not have weathered this ordeal without you. This was a watershed moment for us and we thank God for giving us such wonderful children.


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