Sunday 11 May 2014

A Bittersweet Mothers Day

Any Mothers Day that I am still here with the Bean is a good one. She is eleven now, and coming into the years when she really, really needs a mother. I am grateful to still be here for her. But my own mom's difficult state makes the day bittersweet.

Last night I was instructed not to get out of bed in the morning but to just call, or ring my bell. Sure enough, Sweetie and the Bean made me breakfast in bed. This year, it was more sophisticated than most. She made me a cheese and tomato omelet. Plus juice and tea. There must be tea. I think our dearest memories of our mothers involve tea. There were presents too. A gift certificate for a pen I ogled recently. A writer needs a good solid pen, not the one I liberated from the hotel last weekend. And a Pandora charm. Not the bracelet I tried on or one of the hundred charms I had marked off in the catalogue, but the one the Bean chose -- because Mommy likes pearls. It is beautiful. (When we returned from Montreal last weekend, she and I spent an hour combing through my jewellery box and trying on dresses. We spent a lot of time on the pearls. My little Bean pumped me full of confidence in my appearance, something cancer has tried to take from me.)

I have some time to write now while they walk the dog. I am mentally preparing for the trip to the hospital. Mom has been moved out of ICU to the Acute Monitoring Area so they can continue to watch her oxygen desaturations. She is in a private room due to an antibiotic-resistant infection. We appreciate the privacy, particularly as my brothers were here yesterday and the room was crowded. 

She still isn't able to communicate with us. We can only guess at her level of consciousness. And yet we had to have another conversation last night about our "goals for care." What happens next time she has an infection and goes septic? Do we treat with antibiotics? Do we treat her low blood pressure, requiring an ICU admission? Do we ventilate her if necessary? None of us ever imagined she would be brain damaged and paralyzed. What would she say she wants? To slip away peacefully or to die trying? Do we use medical interventions because they are available? Must we? Should we? Her last words to us were to request all possible treatment. "I want to live." Does she still? And who am I to decide? 

Have you talked to your parents about their wishes? Have you considered your own? Have you considered all the options? Or put it in practical terms? Have you decided when your quality of life determines its value?

Thanks to cancer, my brother and sister-in-law and my Sweetie and I have had to ask ourselves these questions. We know the day is likely to come when further treatment will not buy us another day to hug our children -- which is all I want in life, I suppose. I haven't answered all the questions yet. For today, I will go to the hospital today, hug my Mom and drink a cup of tea. And be grateful she is still here.


  1. Happy Mothers Day! It sounds like you celebrated. I am so sorry about your mother. My father has lymphoma and was hospitalized four times this winter with pneumonia and my mother fell twice and was in rehab. It was tough. But both of them have been very clear about their wishes and have signed and updated their DNRs. They also have sorted out everything they want done. We cannot ask for anything more. Big hugs.

    1. It sounds time your parents have done what they can to make a tough time a little easier. ~Kate

  2. What a poignant post, brought tears to my eyes. Sounds like a bitter-sweet Mother's Day indeed. I hope you were able to have some peaceful moments with your mom - and I'm so happy to hear that 'Sweetie and the Bean' spoiled you. Enjoy every moment.

    1. Thank you, Sonia. Mom was asleep through our visit. She usually wakes up when Geoff cones in, but she didn't today. We went out to supper afterwards and I felt begrudged that all those other grandmothers were out celebrating and my Mom couldn't. Not very kind of me, is it? I am having trouble, still, accepting what happened to my mother. :(. ~Kate

  3. oh, Kate, the feelings of bittersweetness on Mothers' Day must have been such a weight on your heart. acceptance of what has happened to your dear Mother is especially hard on a day like today - please don't think ill of yourself as you have had such a trying and difficult time. I am glad your little Bean and your Sweetie brought such happiness to your heart with all the pampering and love they showered on you.

    I am so glad you asked the questions about having explicit DNRs - that's one of the first things I did after Hugh died so that my children would never have to face the pain and wondering. I am so very sorry for all the sad and difficult questions you and your family are facing - but my hope for you all is that with time and circumstances the answers will fall into place. I am glad you at least had some time today with your Mom - a cup of tea, a priceless hug, and feeling grateful she is still with you.

    much love and big hope to help you find your way,

    Karen xoxo