I have a paint-by-numbers canvas with a really cute fluffy cow that I’m painting. I didn’t realise cows were ‘girls’ so I named mine “Gary Cheeseman” after someone a comedian called Bob Mortimer is friends with. Alun loves Bob Mortimer so I wanted to name my cow after something Alun loves.
I’m rambling. Sorry.
I was in the “common room” of the ward, painting and humming when “James” and “Hal” came to chat. After about 10 minutes, “Hal” remarked “Um Janet – there’s a woman staring at you from outside” and I looked up…AND SAW MY MOM doing her best to peer into the common room.
I was not expecting this.
It was a bright afternoon and the sun was glinting off the windows, probably making it near impossible for Mom to see anything…but our eyes met and she came into the common room.
I burst into tears when Mom was only a foot away. Tears I’ve held in since the 4th of June 2021.
Mom wrapped me in her arms and after 3 long years, I got a “Momma hug”. The types of hugs only Mom’s can give their children.
Mom cried too, and I heard the soft footsteps of both Hal and James leaving the room. That was really kind of them.
I think Mom and I hugged for about an hour – it felt like that, anyway.
We sat beside each other and Mom remarked on how lovely the chairs were and how peaceful and pretty the common room was.
All I could think was “Where’s Dad?” and remembering he had died was like getting hit by a baseball bat to the chest every time I thought about it. Which I did a lot.
Mom wiped the tears from her eyes, held my hand and talked.
Mom didn’t stop talking for about an hour.
I was only half listening.
Tears fell in rivers down my face as Mom talked and I couldn’t stop them because I was grieving the missing presence usually beside my Mom all throughout our lives.
“Sebastian loves to scare me by hiding his toys under my pillow” Mom was saying. “I know they’re there, but we play a game where I lift my pillow up and gasp, pretending to be scared and Sebastian is DELIGHTED” Mom giggled.
All I could hear in my mind was Dad’s laugh. He would have loved playing such a game with Sebastian.
“Little Lily is so adorable, Janet” Mom continued.
All I could see was the way Dad’s face lit up when he held Sebastian days after he had been born.
Mom started to tell me again how my Dad had died. She’d woken in the night and seen Dad with his legs hanging down off the bed – as if he was preparing to get out and had fallen back asleep. Mom rang the Nurses bell, purely to ask for help getting Dad tucked back in securely to his bed but when the Nurse came, she pressed an alarm and Doctors raced in. They started CPR and asked Mom to wait outside.
This was when my mind chose to actually listen.
It was the most painful experience I’ve had in a long time – hearing again how my Dad died.
I didn’t want to hear it but somehow the spirit within me wanted the reminder.
Mom gets caught in a loop sometimes and goes over and over something. Usually, I’m impatient and stop Mom by the 2nd or 3rd ‘loop’, saying something like “Mom…you told me this already” but I got the feeling that this afternoon’s ‘looping’ was something Mom was trying to piece together in her own mind.
My gut told me this was Mom’s way of dealing with her grief and that this wasn’t the time to stop her.
Let her ‘loop’ as much as she wants, JD. Just listen. Just be there for her and let her grieve. Just hold your Mom’s hand and be the daughter your Dad would be proud of.
So Mom told the story of my Dad – my hero – dying over and over. Each time felt like taking a hit to the face with a bowling ball – but I’d swallow the lump in my throat and prepare for the next loop.
“Your Dad looked as if he was having such a good sleep” Mom said…again.
“I rang the Nurses bell so he would be more comfortable in bed”
JD. Take deeeeep breaths. Let your Mom talk. You’re going to be okay.
“When the Nurse came…she said your Dad was blue” tears slipped down both our faces. Mom was struggling to get the words out but still, she persisted: “Your Dad was dead. They tried so hard to do CPR and get him back, but Doctors told me that Dad had been dead for hours. He died peacefully in his sleep”
Oh Mom…that must have been beyond devastating for you.
I rubbed her hand and shook my head, heart breaking for Mom as I imagined her all alone in the hospital room with Dad’s body. I can’t even imagine what that must have been like for her.
Mom told the story of losing Dad about 7 times. The looping seemed to settle her, and she moved on to telling me about her knees becoming a real problem and that she found stairs really difficult now. I noticed more grey hairs along Mom’s temple. I noticed we have the same hands, the same fingers, the same lines along our fingers that Mom told me were for measuring water and rice with.
Mom talked about her siblings in Phillipines.
Mom’s application for Centrelink was successful so every 2 weeks, she’d be getting money from the Government.
Thank you, God.
Mom said she’d still like the $100 Alun sends for her Hospital cover in the Philippines and that she’d still like the $50 I send weekly so that she could save the money she got from Centrelink in order to send it back to the Philippines to provide for her family and save enough to pay the builders to complete the second-storey she’d started a year ago.
I agreed to leave my direct debit to Mom and she hugged me tight. Mom told me she’d spoken to Alun and he’d agreed to keep paying her Health insurance so she felt a great comfort knowing she could save her Centrelink payments.
Alun is the best person I know.
I’m ashamed because at this point, I was emotionally worn out and desperately wanted to look at the time on my phone. I wanted to work up a reasonable excuse to make Mom leave.
What kind of an animal am I? Mom travelled on 2 long bus trips to get to Hospital. She came open hearted and with her arms open to hug me and all I could think was “When can you just go?“
I hate myself for that.
Something in me is broken and I don’t know if it will ever be fixed.
The sun was setting and although it’s Spring, the nights get pretty cold.
I finally had my excuse.
“Mom” I hugged her close “You need to get going so you aren’t travelling in the cold and it will get dark a lot quicker than you think”
JD. Shame on you. Getting rid of your Mom. You horrible girl.
Mom nodded “Yes, I can start to feel the cold already, I will go”
Stop smiling, JD. You psychopath. What is WRONG with you?!?
“It was so good to see you, Mom” I said, wrapping a protective arm around her and feeling my shoulders come down, my breathing ease and the tightness in my chest start to lift.
“I love being here with you, Janny” Mom responded “I’ll come again in a few days”
Oh please don’t, Mom.
JD. FOR FUCK’S SAKES. THIS IS YOUR MOM!!! STOP BEING A COLD, UNFEELING BITCH!!!
I walked Mom out to the front of the Hospital but wasn’t allowed any further (I’m not allowed “off campus”), otherwise I would have wanted to walk her to the bus stop and would have stayed until I knew Mom was safely on board.
We both waited for the sliding doors of the hospital entrance to open.
“I can order an Uber for you, Mom – it will take you straight home” I offered.
“Noooooo!” Mom looked appalled at the idea “I love the bus! I like the views of the city because so much has changed since I was last here!”
We hugged again and I couldn’t belive the relief I felt.
There is something definitely wrong with me.
Mom went, trudging up the hill on her sore knees, bless her.
I stayed at the sliding doors and watched until Mom had gone over the hill and had disappeared from sight.
I stayed longer, fighting with my swirling emotions. I just stood there, wondering what the FUCK is so WRONG WITH ME because I felt so much better once Mom had left.
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