I hate Cancer. It seems a simple statement, but I have many reasons. For the lives it takes, both directly, and indirectly, for the time spent, and the intonations on our modern life. But most of all, I hate cancer because it took my mother. Not the first time, the first time she beat it. She won, went to the winners circle. It wasn’t an easy victory, cost her a breast, and a lot of time, pain, and suffering, but she beat it. Or so we thought.
I had a broken heel. I had fallen, and broke it. My mother got diagnosed with cancer. i started being able to walk and drive just in the nick of time, as her chemotherapy was beating her down. she had been driving me to college, because of my heel, and then we traded jobs, and I drove my mom to her chemo. Every day we did this, monday through friday, my job was to drive to school, get done with it, and drive her to her chemo appointments when she had them weekly, and anywhere else she needed to be. I finished my degree this way, the last class I needed took me almost a year to complete, and with another school taking me for 1 quarter, and a lot of help from my instructors, I finished it on crutches. My mother got through her chemotherapy with total remission. I had even stolen, yes stolen, a computer game from my work for my mother. Bejeweled. If anyone knows the game, they may have heard that the 2nd version and each after had an “endless” option, strictly because of the number of chemo patients that enjoyed the game so much. I did put the $9.99 (a ten-spot really) in my till on my next paycheck, but I doubt anyone noticed. She loved that game, and I still remember the time I forgot to stop playing in time, and I beat her high score. We had all kept from saving any game that had a higher score, so she was always at the top of the list. I beat it, and I have never felt so terrible for doing well at anything in my life. I never want the high score again, it lost its meaning for me, in any video game. But, my mother made it, she fought, and in round 3 of her chemotherapy, she won. She fought and won. We didn’t know about the rematch.
I had started a new job. My sister had got married, and my mother was able to spend time with her grandson, all dreams of hers to live. She got to do them. She always wanted me to be married, but that wasn’t her dream, it was mine, and she never knew about what I looked for in love, and, quite factually, was the worst matchmaker for me. but she always tried. Though, I wish she would have stayed out of that part of my life, her meddling has had some very long reaching consequences. My first love has always been the truth. My mother never understood that very well. I digress, she was a very loving and caring person, and almost, just almost, a stifling mother. She had her own physical recovery program, she cleaned the 2 horse stalls, and did the daily work of caring and cleaning a 2200 square foot home, and the 5 acres surrounding it. There were chickens, and of course, horses, one of her lifelong loves. Then, as summer neared its end, she began to have backaches, small at first, we thought she was overdoing it on the stall cleaning, which was likely partly true, but that was not all. there was a monster lurking, and it was lurking in her bones.
The technical details are less important to know, but my mother’s breast cancer had metastasized to her bones. Bone lesions were the cause of her back pain. her vertebrae were ulcerous. The pain must have been terrible, yet she always wore that smile. I was working in Seattle, at an escrow firm that had a family friend as an employee, and I had hoped to continue my plan of finishing my hard science degree, with the computer science minor, with the idea of doing simulations and modeling. Seattle University at the time was one of the few schools that had that kind of program, at least nearby. My sister was doing well at her government career, and her husband, bless him, was doing well also. My brother was having all sorts of adventures, as he is prone to do. He still is, and likely always will. It was not what she had always wanted, but she had a grandchild, her only daughter was happily married and had a great career, her oldest son was doing what he wanted, her husband still had a successful business, and I, I was doing something, something she could understand. And then, we got the news, this was likely to take her life. It struck our family hard, she had always been the glue in our family, the person who held it together. We rallied. I got half days at work, my sister and her husband got time off, my brother and my dad were working together at the construction business and so had schedule flexibility, and we took care of her. At the home we had all helped build, that she had done most of the design of, and she had always said she wanted to live out her life in. We got hospice care to help, the chemo wasn’t doing well. We got painkillers, she hurt. We had one last Christmas, her favorite holiday, in her home, as a family. And then the countdown began. She deteriorated fast after that, going from cheery and active, to slow, sleepy, and soon bedridden. Always, she smiled, and had a laugh, even when she could hardly talk. By the end of January, her birthday, she was almost gone. We were all there, when the night came, i woke up from a dead sleep, so did my brother, and dad. My sister we got out of the shower, and even my Brother-in-arms (better than in law, the law has no strength like the bonds between those who have shared what we have) was aware of it; she was dying, RIGHT NOW. We gathered, we all stood at her bedside, and we touched her, told her we loved her, i rubbed her feet, and then, she was gone. We heard her breathe her last breath, and in that moment, her body died. I remember the exact moment, because i looked at the clock, twice. 8:32 pm. We even had a 3-legged black lab that went out to sleep outside, a week before, as was his custom, and mysteriously died, and thank you to my sister’s husband for burying him when none of us had the strength.
I didn’t recover mentally very quickly, none of us did. i lost my job. My sister took on her sadness in her usual custom, she screamed at the wind, went on 2 3-day walks, and raised money for cancer research. My brother took it better, but he changed his life too. My dad lost his company, for many reasons, and it took him much longer to recover, and still is in some ways. I, I have not finished, I know too much now, I will never recover. That is a good thing, as I am changed, the family secrets, the secrets of my mother, father, even my sister and brother. The lies are not as strong as the family ties. For me, the recovery is, and must be, different. there is no drug for my issues, there is no pill, no therapy, no counseling for me. This is the price I pay, for whom I be. But, I will always remember, my mother, the lovely lady, the mother hen, the mother bear. She was there to fight, to lie, to protect her children. She believed in family above all else. She believed in Love. That was her final gift to me.
Thank you Mom, you gave me something else to believe. When too few do, I will always love the truth. And I believe, just like you, that Love is true.
P.S. – because of some fallout from this post, I am clarifying some details. I took a game with a retail price of $9.99. Upon my next check, I bought 3 games of the same price, at employee discount price, which was $3.33. I then paid $20.00. for anyone else who wishes to call me a thief, all I can say is this: I have stolen, but I am not a thief. This posting has as much to do with emotional trauma causing a lapse in judgement, as well as other issues. I stole, and I repaid. I also later bought more games, and had a discussion about it with my manager. This post isn’t a complete dissertation on my lapse of judgement regarding stealing. It is about my mother’s cancer. Any employers who read this, stop making analysis of written material your raison d’ete. My manager and employer at the time kept me on for another 6 months, with no reprisals. I left only after I had another job, and had given 30 days notice. I skimmed over the details because this posting isn’t about that. Thank you all for reminding me how disgusting corporate greed can be, and for reminding me that when you have an employer who cares, there is a huge difference from those who don’t. SMH… AB