Hi there, Dear Reader. It’s late mid-morning here in New Hometown, Florida on Monday, July 19, 2021. Currently, the temperature is 80˚F (27˚C ) under skies. With humidity at 57% and the wind blowing from the south-southeast at 6 MPH (9 KM/H), the feels-like factor is 79˚F (26˚C). Today’s forecast calls for thunderstorms to move through the area. The high will be 91˚F (33˚C). Tonight, we can expect partly cloudy skies. The low will be 73˚F (23˚C) .The Air Quality Index is 17 or Good.
“A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials heavy and sudden fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts.” ― Washington Irving
Today is the sixth anniversary of my mother’s death. She died of cardiac failure and complications from being confined to a hospital-style bed in what was once our townhouse’s guest bedroom n the early morning hours of July 19, 2015. I wasn’t there at the exact moment of her passing; I didn’t have the emotional strength to witness her final moments on Earth. I also was displeased that while my half-sister Vicky had her cousins Juan Manuel and Mauricio Pereira around for emotional support, I was being comforted by my friends online. I wasn’t too far away when the final curtain came down on Beatriz Diaz-Granados, but the growing antipathy between my older half-sister and me kept me at my improvised writing room in the dining room.
In any case, I had wandered in and out of Mom’s room throughout the night of July 18/19 to see if Mom had regained consciousness; she had drifted off to sleep sometime after I administered a dose of Tramadol (which her hospice doctor had prescribed for pain relief) around 1:30 PM.
I still remember – as though it was yesterday – how much effort it took my mom to swallow one tiny white pill that she had asked me to give her because her back was hurting.
It took three attempts because she was having a hard time swallowing that small dose of Tramadol; twice I asked her, gently, patiently, to stick her tongue out and the pill was still stuck to the surface. On the third attempt I asked Mom to take a bigger sip of water and to swallow a bit harder. She did, and when she gamely stuck out her tongue so I could see if the pill was there or not, it was – thankfully – gone.
“You did it, Mom,” I said in a husky voice that threatened to waver into a sob. I think I smiled reassuringly, even though I was blinking away the tears that welled in my eyes.
My mom’s last words to me were, “Gracias, mijito.” She smiled at me with love and – I like to think – gratitude. She looked at me for what seemed to be an eternity and sighed with relief before drifting off into sleep. I then went to the bed across the room from hers and kept a watchful vigil until Vicky and the nurse from Catholic Services’ hospice care unit arrived 90 minutes later.
“But there’s a story behind everything. How a picture got on a wall. How a scar got on your face. Sometimes the stories are simple, and sometimes they are hard and heartbreaking. But behind all your stories is always your mother’s story, because hers is where yours begin.”― Mitch Albom, For One More Day
To this day, I still wonder if I should have been in Mom’s death room all night despite the feelings of mutual rancor between Vicky and me. Part of me wishes that I had, but I have a feeling that my mom would have somehow sensed the negative energies caused by the suspicion, anger, and resentment that festered between her two adult children. And, to be honest, I didn’t want to cry or show any sign of vulnerability in front of Vicky, Juan Manuel, or Mauricio.
So, yes. I stayed away from my mother’s room at the time of her passing. I’m obviously not proud of that but considering that I had devoted five years of my life to helping Mom recuperate from her surgery and, eventually, to making her last years at least a bit more bearable, I think I can be forgiven one moment of weakness.
Today I plan to write another review for this blog, and if the weather holds up a bit, I’ll will try to work on other stuff to keep my mind from wandering to dark, sad places.
Until the next post, Dear Reader, have a good day, wherever you may be.
2 thoughts on “Musings & Thoughts for Monday, July 19, 2021, or: The Burden of Grief, Regret, and Memory”
Dear Alex, my mom was a nurse and repeatedly had stories about how people would die once their family member went to take a shower or grab a cup of coffee.
I offer you this hoping you may be able to set some of the guilt aside. You may have given your beloved mother the gift of being able to peacefully leave here when you left. I was on the phone with my husband when he died (deaser26) but I wasn’t there in person. I had to keep telling myself our time together couldn’t be defined or reduced to the moment he died.
I’m so sorry for your loss and your grief. Your half-sibling gives me stomach acid.
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Thank you so much for your kind words. I truly appreciate the anecdote about your mom being a nurse and your own experience with the loss of your husband. Most kind.
I guess I feel the way I do (regretful that I wasn’t with Mom at that specific moment) because whenever I thought about how I would behave when my mom died, I never imagined that I would prefer to be out in the dining room listening to the Pathetique Symphony by Tchaikovsky instead of being close to my mom.
I don’t think I am a bad person for doing what I did. I already had had words with my half-sister earlier that evening because she was already saying that she was going to take some of Mom’s things…. and our mother was not even dead yet! I didn’t want to get into another argument in front of the hospice nurse and Vicky’s cousins, so I figured discretion was the better part of valor and limited myself to popping in the bedroom to see how Mom was. (And even that was hard for me to do.)
And yes. I understand what you mean about your visceral reaction to my half-sister; Vicky makes my stomach turn, too. Can you believe that it’s been half a decade since I last saw her?
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