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KillgoreTrout On July - 17 - 2014

I had received this phone call three times before.

At about one in the afternoon my phone rang. I wasn’t expecting anyone to call and I thought it might be just another telemarketer or maybe a wrong number. Looking back, I wish it had been one or the other.

The caller was my sister Mary informing me that our mother had been rushed to the emergency room, once again. As with the last three calls like this, my heart sunk at the news. Was this time worse than the other three times?

Was my mother’s condition the result of a sudden drop in blood sugar, as twice before, or was it another one of those mysterious neurological episodes, as once before, described in medical shorthand, as a TIA, short for Transient Ischemic Attack? Such an attack results in light seizures and a total inability to put words together that describe the sufferer’s plight. TIAs can be a frightening thing, for the victim and their loved ones. Fortunately, they usually pass after about 45 minutes, but those are very long minutes.

My first question, of course was, “how is she?” Mary told me that she was OK, but was hospitalized for observation. The other two times before, she was in the ER for a few hours and allowed to be taken home. This third time, they wanted to keep her for a few days.

My mother lives alone and has been very fortunate that her good friend and neighbor just happened by at the right time to find her. This third time, and, with the good graces of fortune, her case worker had come by for an appointment. She was from the Mass Society for the Blind. My mother was declared legally blind a few months earlier, by her eye doctor. My mom is also diabetic and has to have insulin injections, at least three times a day, sometimes four.

I didn’t immediately know what to do because I live in Ohio and my mom lives in Mass. Mary told me she was going to get on a plane the next day to be by our mother’s side. That was good to hear, for sure.

Since that last dreaded phone call, I began to feel a little selfish. I too live alone and don’t have any pressing business, from day to day. I grappled with my conscience for about a week or so and finally decided to fly to Mass after my sister had to come back to Ohio. She’s married and has her own family to care for.

Before my sister came home, my mother had been discharged from the hospital and the two of them went back to my mom’s house and things were looking much better for mom. In the meantime, I called mom and told her that I would be coming to Mass to spend some time with her. She really shouldn’t live alone any longer. Her eyesight is very bad and she sometimes has great difficulty filling insulin syringes and checking her blood sugar. She was very happy to hear that I was soon coming to stay a while.

My flight date arrived and I boarded the plane and after a brief layover in New Jersey, I landed safely in Boston. I called mom and got only a voice mail. I didn’t even know she had gotten voice mail, and the message I got was unclear. I didn’t recognize my mom’s voice and thought I may have dialed the wrong number. I had to get on a bus from Logan airport down to Cape Cod where my mother lives. I tried calling again and got that same general voice mail message.

By the time I reached my destination, it was dark, and there were no cabs at the bus station, so I called a cab and waited in freezing temps and snowfall, for the cab to arrive. I wasn’t too happy about not getting through on the phone.

When the cab arrived at my mom’s house, her porch light was on, but the house was dim with only one little kitchen light on. I thought this was odd, but then thought maybe she had gone to bed early. As I got to the front porch, I saw something that really alarmed me. There was police tape wrapped around the door frame and the door was ajar. Holy shit!

I pushed the door open and immediately saw that the door had been battered in and the inside door frame was lying, in pieces, on the living room floor. OK, now I was really alarmed and started going from room to room, calling for my mom. She wasn’t there. Very fortunately a good neighbor left a note for me informing me that my mom had another episode and was taken to the hospital and admitted. I called her and she said she was OK, but they were once again keeping her for a few days. My heart slowed down and my breathing returned to normal.

The next day I took some of her clothes and went to the hospital. The paramedics had cut her clothes off of her and she was only dressed in her bra and underpants.
When I got to her room, she was champing at the bit to be discharged. After about two hours, they released her and I took her home. When we got there, my mom went all around the house, from room to room, making sure she wasn’t just imagining being back home. If she could have hugged the entire house, she would have.

She got better and better each day and soon she was her strong self again. I stayed for three months, helping her in any way I could. I drove her to doctor’s appointments, the supermarket, and the beach, which she dearly loves. I did yard work and cooked and did laundry. I actually had a great time. My sister came back in June and I’m now back in Ohio. I will probably go back sometime in August.

I figure things this way. My mom spent many years caring for me as a child. I thought and still do, that the least I could do now is return the love.

Written by KillgoreTrout

Once a wander, working vagabond, fellow traveler on this 3rd stone from the sun. Hurtling through space and time. Lover of books (especially the classics), all kinds of books from novels, poetry, essay collections, fiction and nonfiction and a big Kurt Vonnegut fan. I am a secular humanist and technically an atheist.....Taoist.

13 Responses so far.

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  1. Nirek says:

    KT, thanks for sharing your thoughts when your Mom was taken to the hospital. Finding the door in that condition must have been a shock. You write about things that remind me about things similar in my experience.
    My Mom had an aneurysm and my boss came out to the job site. He said my Mom was in the hospital and to get in his car. He drove like a mad man to get me back to the garage so I could go see my Mom.

    KT, thanks for stirring my memories. I wish you and your Mom the best, my friend.

  2. antmousie says:

    KT

    Thanks for sharing that story. I can only imagine the anxiety that you must have been going through, until you actually saw your mom. I’m so glad that she’s okay. Keep in close touch, even after you get home from your next visit. That’s a very special relationship.

  3. foodchain says:

    KT, This time I had to stop everything. I understand “phone fear” and not knowing what situation will greet you when you pull in the driveway. I’m glad that everything is OK for now and that your stay with your mother was a good one. She seems to have a lot of spirit to keep going.

    My thought are with you (each music day I sigh because “bouncing” in for a one liner just hurts) and your family. It’s nice when the best in everyone is brought out.

    I miss you all. We’re so damn busy (scared busy) with our 2 kids joining our business; money looks different when you have to share it 3 ways instead of one.

    • Wow, what a coincidence. I was rereading an old article I wrote on poetry, just yesterday and saw a comment from you. I wondered what became of you because it’s been a while since I’ve seen any comments from you.

      I have missed your comments too. I’m glad to hear that you and your family are busy, though. That must mean that things are going well for you.

      Yes, she does have a great spirit. She’s really a little powerhouse, but her two main problems are the diabetes and her very poor vision.

      Thanks for reading this article and commenting so nicely! 😉

      • foodchain says:

        KT, I think about them all as they come by and I feel like I can’t respond with the attention they deserve. But I remember well the poetry and other discussions. When I read the lead line, that was it. My mom had macular degeneration and retinal disease as they call it and a smoker until the end. I can hear the fight in her. I wish you many more years with her.

        I’m sure I’ve missed other personal stories and I will try more to hop in if even for briefer comments.

        • foodchain says:

          KT, sorry for the unclear response: you can read the distractions in my evening. I love your Mom’s spirit and I know what it’s like to be more intimate with their personal habits. And it’s not always easy being with a parent that still wants to do what they want to do. Best wishes to us all!

  4. monicaangela says:

    Excellent article KT, again, very well written. As you know I have told you about my experience with my mom. Fortunately, she did not have any of the episodes you have just discussed. I do remember a couple of times having to call 911 because her sugar level had dropped and I couldn’t successfully stabilize her.

    It is wonderful that you are going to return to spend some time with your mom, there is nothing more rewarding than the act of caring for someone, a loved one especially. I often wonder why families in this day and age are so far apart. I am old enough to remember a time when just about everyone in my neighborhood lived in what is called extended family circumstances. Grandmother and Grandfather, sometimes aunts and uncles, Mother and Father and of course the children. We lost something in this nation when we stopped living together in extended family units.

    I know you are looking forward to visiting your mom in August, and I am happy for you and her. For her because she will have someone to love and protect her as well as help her through her daily routine, and you will have the opportunity to forget some of your cares and devote yourself to the one person in this world that can never be replaced..your mom. I envy you. :)

    • Thanks for the kind words Monica. I do look forward to going back and spending some more time with her. It can be frustrating at times, but I really feel useful helping her. I’m usually pretty selfish with my time, but not in this case and it helps me feel better about myself to care for another, especially my mom.

      I agree that we have indeed lost something in this country when families get so spread out and have little time to spend together. My family is pretty spread out. I have two sisters that live in Columbus, a brother who lives and works in Oman (at the bottom of the Arabian peninsula). I almost never get to spend time with him. My dad passed away in 2004, and my mom, as you know, lives about 800 miles from where I live. I sometimes think, this is not right.

  5. SueInCa says:

    KT

    Thanks so much for sharing your story. I cannot imagine what you went through when you got to your mom’s house and saw what you did. In fact, I might have panicked at the police tape and not have been able to collect myself as you did.

    It must be very hard to care for an ailing parent from so far away. On the other hand, how nice is it that you can actually stay for a few months like you did? The unencumbered life does have it’s good points, doesn’t it? I hope and pray that your mother will live much longer and that you can, somehow, look at these extended stays as a kind of vacation. Cape Cod is a beautiful area, no wonder your mother settled there.

    Keep us posted as su famila es nuestra familia.

    • That’s very kind of you Sue. Yes, the unencumbered life is pretty good. I don’t have much in the way of material possessions, but I have everything I actually need, a decent roof over my head, decent clothes, more than enough food, and I can actually save about a hundred bucks a month. The best part is that I have almost all the free time that I want. I place a lot of value on time.

      I will keep you updated about my mom. She is an amazingly strong person.


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