my radiant mom

Thursday, January 26, 2006

when we were growing up

when we were growing up, my sister and i would get the sunday newspaper after church, and take out the real estate section so we could look at the house floorplans and take turns picking our rooms. we lived in an apartment and dreamed of living in a house - having the things our friends had...

it wasn't until college, when i met friends who grew up with everything they wanted and lived in huge houses - that i realized, their mothers hadn't given them 1/2 as good a home as my mother gave us. that's when i realized how rich my family really was. that's when i realized i had the most generous, most loving, the wisest and strongest woman for a mother.

the beginning of the end

i dont know. it may or may not be. i am at the beginning of bracing myself.

the cancer has advanced, been controlled, advanced, been controlled for over 2 years now. the doctor has mentioned "quality of life." she is under 95 lbs. chemo disables her for almost 2 1/2 weeks – so when she feels better, she has to go to chemo again. she needs to go back to work to keep the insurance.

in two weeks, she's going back to the doctor. to see if the cancer is weakening her or if its the chemo. then they make the decision.

Friday, August 12, 2005

not in the clear

from my mother this morning:
"hello frances,
i will not undergo chemo this month. my oncologist said my body still needs to rest from the toxic chemo.
my markers went up by 7 and he said it was okay. we'll see next month what the count is again, if it goes
down, still no chemo, but if it still goes up significantly we will resume chemo treatments and see if the cancer
cells will respond again to the drug.
I will have lab, and catscan before my 9/22/05 doctor's visit with him again. Otherwise i am physically well,
he did not hear any fluids in my lungs, i gained pounds and i look and am healthy.
He also said that my kind of cancer will stay and it just have to be monitored and treated before the symptoms
start again, like building fluids in my lungs.
Since i have been taking one day at a time, this is okay with me, i am just thanking the Lord that i am still here
to be able to take care of your daddy and be here for you but if He decides to take me i will gladly go too.
I know He will take care of you all.
love you very much
mom"

Thursday, August 04, 2005

8 months and 4 days

so for the last 8 months or so, my mom's lungs have been in question. this morning, i came to work with an email from her:

"I went to my lung doctor yesterday. He said he did not hear any fluid in my lungs and that i am good.
He will see me again in 6 months but i can call anytime i get short of breath again. But as far as he
can hear i sound good.......Praise the Lord.
love
mom"

just in time for my birthday.

Friday, July 29, 2005

july july thank god its august soon

so i usually love august - partly bc its my bday month, and this year, mostly bc it ends this last month. my family went through another tumultuous month. my mom's mark didnt go down as much as it should have - but her red blood cell count was so low, the doctors decided to give her a month's break - so if her mark doesnt go down on its own - she will have chemo on the 12th - meaning she'll be horribly ill on my birthday.
also, my nephew was with his father for all of july, and my mom was home alone - since my sister decided (and has needed) to take a vacation. and she had already started work again (the 40 mile drive) and was visiting my dad, every other day... and if that wasnt stressful enough, my sister was in nyc with her boyfriend for a week, and then went to costa rica. the costa rica trip was free - she was chaperoning the students from her school. unfortunately, her boyfriend called me and told me he had some bad news he couldn't tell my mom. my sister was in the hospital. her anemia was making her faint - she was dehydrated - she was blacking out - and her bank card wouldn't work. so she had no money.
she ended up calling my mom - and asking her to reinstate her card - her bank acct was fine - her magnetic strip - not so much. so my sister needed to catch up with her students and had to walk from the hospital to the hotel.

but she's back now. she gets her son back tonite. my mom's still truckin. thank god its august soon.

Monday, July 11, 2005

the mark

the mark at the beginning of chemo was 800. the first chemo was in january. it went from 800 to 600 to 400 to 230 to 160 to 86. now its 83.
she needs to be at 35 or so.

home alone

so my mom has been home alone since the beginning of july. my sister's in new york, and troy is with his dad for the month. i can only visit on the weekends, since i work downtown. so i visited her last night. she seemed ok. she was stressed, of course, and misses her grandson. she's getting tinier, too. and she will probably have another chemo later this week, take a few days off from work, and then go back when she feels better.
its a good thing her coworkers and manager care about her a lot. her manager told her to take a nap whenever she wanted to, if she needed. her manager also told her she could wear whatever she wanted to work - bc of her neuropathy, she wears flip flops to work.
she and i had a talk about her dad's side of the family, and you could see the guilt she still feels about leaving her mom and brother in the philippines. she hasn't spoken to her brother in quite a while. i keep forgetting she had one. and her mom, she describes, as a woman who would do anything for anyone - so caring, etc. she feels very bad for not being there for her, when her mom and brother got swindled and were homeless for a little while. her mom died, and she couldn't even go to the funeral, bc a plane ticket to the philippines is over 1000 dollars.
but with the impossibilities and the money, she still feels really bad about leaving her mom.

so next weekend, john and i will plant rosebushes for her.

Monday, June 20, 2005

back to the grindstone, my mom's moxie

so, my mom's had two more chemos since missing the symphony. and the doctor said her numbers were still too high. this time around, her treatment hasn't been as successful. but this time around, too, my dad's been in the nursing home without any progress. so i'm sure the stress of visiting him, and dealing with the incompetent social worker and insurance, and medicare, etc, has hindered her from getting better like last year's bout.
i missed father's day yesterday. my mom called me saturday while i was packing to ask if i could go visit him. she said she couldn't go, bc the effects of her last chemo would be hitting. i'm moving this upcoming thursday, and have of course left it to the last weekend to pack. i told her i couldn't, but i had planned to take a break on friday from loading, unloading, loading myself into my new apt to drive the 38 mile trek to my family's house, to visit my dad at the house. they'll be taking him to the house from the home friday morning, for his birthday. his birthday's next sunday, and my sister and her new boyfriend and troy are leaving for south padre friday afternoon. so it will all work out. i'll get the father's day/birthday visit and the last-time-to-see-troy-until-august-visit (he'll be with his father, the ass for july) all in one sitting.
and so my sister went by herself to the home to visit my dad. without troy, without me, and without my mom. and then of course called me afterwards to say that he was upset that i wasn't there. he's upset all the time. whether i'm there or not. but this last time, my sister told me, he's a bit out of his mind. he asked "how is she and that phelps boy?" that phelps boy is the high school ex. from 10 years ago.
i'm not sure if my mom knows any of this. she probably does, but won't tell me. she still wants to make sure that I am not worrying. she's worried about me. anyway, she'll be going back to work soon bc she doesn't want to go on long term disability. she will be working and chemo-ing at the same time. and by work - i mean driving to downtown dallas (38 miles) at 4 in the morning and driving back (38 miles) early afternoon, to visit my dad, and then finally go back to the house.
for some reason, maybe its bc she's convinced me, with her tenacity, i think she'll be okay. bc she's been so courageous and worked so hard and taken care of my father while still worrying about my sister and troy, and for me. that little bald lady has some kind of moxie.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

it didn't work out, but it almost did

5 hours before the symphony last night, john called me. i was at work, finishing somethings for a monday morning client review - another saturday at the office. when i answer, john tells me he just talked to my mom on the phone. she told him that both her and my sister would be unable to attend the symphony (for which we had switched really good tickets for so-so tickets). my mom, still not feeling well, but she would have tried to go - but for my sister who had to go to the hospital bc she got food poisoning friday night.
and yesterday, john and i had some wine with our tapas before the symphony. and i got sad looking off at a couple, in their 40s probably, sitting on the patio outside - talking, seemingly stress free. and i thought, my parents weren't like that, atleast not since their 20s. its been 40 years of toil. of stress. of money problems. and sickness.
and while the choir sang requiem last night, i thought of how my mom would have loved it. how the people around us probably didn't realize just how lucky they were. to be able to come to that performance. lucky to have enough health to be there. and i teared up. i tried to keep the tears from falling. they brimmed up. but i managed to keep all but two streams from falling.
i used to be embarassed when my mom would sometimes cry in church. it seemed almost random before, but last night, thinking of her while listening to this prayer sung for a spirit after it is released from this world, i understood those tears.
there is a sadness that comes with faith in life after death and it is coupled with this undescribable feeling of hope. and there is this tiny spark that you feel inside, and it lasts for almost a moment, but for that moment it seems all clear. and then the show is over, and there is all this applause. and then it seems it was all over too quickly.
but it is after the applause that we all hope for.