Thursday, February 21, 2008

You're Learning How To Walk. They Pick You Up And You Keep Falling Down.

My mother died this morning. It isn't an unexpected blow anymore. I don't feel ruin inside. I just miss her. This entire month has felt pretty funky and I can't say my mind isn't muddled right now.

I would have stayed in San Francisco with her but everyone, including my mom, decided (before I had a chance to think about it myself) that I needed to come back to Utah and do some schooling for my daytime job because if I didn't do it this week it would probably set me back a year. So I was on a 15 minute break from a 6 hour class at 8:30 this morning when my stepfather told me that she past on.

I haven't talked much in class, because of my funky predisposition, be we talk a lot about safety in class. They even show us a lot of pictures of burn victims and guys who have been run over by trucks, just to drive home the point of how important it is to be safe. They have an in-your-face approach to teaching. Check out this "true or false" question from a sexual harassment quiz I recently took:

11. A foreman who repeatedly refers to the size of a female worker's chest by indicating that the reason she is having difficulty performing a task is because her "big jugs" are getting in the way is subject to a sexual harassment complaint and possible disciplinary action.

Anyway, our instructor was talking to us about that sugar-plant explosion and other recent work disasters and he described a woman who's husband had been burned so badly that, even though he was still alive, he couldn't even communicate with his family and he was likely to die. Comparing my mother's situation to people who have been burned to death or electrocuted made me feel like she had it okay.

I felt strange about leaving my mother in the hospital but, as my sister pointed out, she frequently kicked me out of her hospital room for no apparent reason. She would just say, "You can go now, Em. Alright, Em. See you later, Em." My sister thinks my mother didn't like me to see her in that condition. I think she didn't like being helpless and vulnerable like that.

A week prior, the nurses had been encouraging her to sit up or stand a little everyday if she could. When I was about to leave for the airport she told me she wanted to try standing up before I went. But the nurses had moved her port for dialysis to her thigh and they were pretty strict about saying no. That she couldn't even try. I hope my mother didn't feel bad about that. I hope she knows that one's dignity has nothing to do with one's posture. I'm proud of her. She's always been strong. The hospital didn't change the way I thought about her.

The first time I saw her in the hospital, I told her she looked the best out of everyone in the ICU. But she was also the only one in there who still had dark hair. One day she wanted a mirror really bad and we couldn't get the vanity in her little hospital table to work. I offered to see if they had a mirror down in the gift shop and she sent me down to get one. They had a $500 mirror in the hospital gift shop. I asked the clerk if they had any mirrors in the purses they sold and she helped me find one. But the purse that came with a credit-card-sized mirror was still over $100. Finally the girl went in the back and grabbed her compact out of her own purse. She said, "Here. You can have this one." I offered to pay for it. She said no. She had another one somewhere. I told her she was going to mess up my karma and that I would in turn do something nice for someone else at a later time.

My mom got the mirror and used it to confirm that her hospital appearance was less than appealing. But it's hard to make a feeding tube look good. Not even super-models can do that.

It's strange because sometimes I'll talk on the phone with my stepfather about my mother's condition and as soon as I hang up, I think, "Hey, I should call my mother and see what SHE thinks about all this." Because I forget that she's the one in the bed and I figure she's out there somewhere walking around in the woods wondering why I haven't called lately.

I think all of us really wanted her to pull through this, but the reality is that all the numbers were bad. Really bad. And you can't bend reality. Not with your brain. Not with a crane. My brother told my sister how he had a really bad feeling. He works out in the woods but he only sees owls every once in a while. He told my sister that the last time he saw an owl that our Uncle Leroy died. Right around the time my mom went into the hospital, he hit an owl with his car. He even stopped and got out and asked the owl if he was okay. And the owl flew away. And then a day or two later he saw an owl out in his front yard and he thought it might be the very same owl. Anyway, all of this owl business made him very uneasy. Now that she's died he'll probably be terrified of owls.

I just got the news a few hours ago and I haven't really talked to anyone about my mom dying. I probably should. But I don't want to. I don't like it when people tell me they're sorry.


slimysculpin said...

"I don't like it when people tell me they're sorry."

I googled for alternative ways to express sympathy, but that was no help.

Based just on your stories of life as a kid- and her production of such original offspring- your mom was an incredible person.


Inside Stories said...

Your mom really was an incredible person. I feel lucky that I had her as a neighbor for five years and lucky that we got to know your family. Once we were talking about your friendship with Native Minnow, and we both said we were glad you'd become friends. Then she said, "They are more than friends." I said, "They're borthers." And she said, "They are blood brothers." She always treated my son like he was part of your family. I wish this hadn't happened to her, I wish her life hadn't been cut short.

Native Minnow said...

We were all lucky to have your mom as a part of our lives. I know you don't want to hear it, but I am so sorry. I was really hoping she'd be able to beat the odds on this. If there's anything I can do, please call and let me know.

Dee Ice Hole said...

It is interesting how a small portion of our lives (like 5 years) can bring us into contact with folks we count as our best friends and carry that forward for the remainder of our lives.

Here is wishing you the very best that life has to offer---if we can help let us know.

Erika said...

I Love You Gonzo...
owls scare me too... most natives I kno see them as "messengers of death"... i believe it... but another friend, native, said they are messengers, but not so much of death, just beings that appear when we have to realize something, make a change, not take things for granted, and do more of something... learn, love, think, pray, idk... either way... i wish they didn't have such weird timing with not so good events...
I will be home the weekend of the 9th....