Thursday, 31 May 2012
My Mom Was NOT Old!
By Jacklynn Winmill-Lee
As I quickly approached age 60, it was impossible to feel old with a mother around who was going on 93 and still super active. In fact, when we walked together – she using her walker and me my cane for bad knees - I constantly had to call out to her as she'd get so far ahead, "Mom, wait for me!.” She’d just stand there chuckling until I caught up.
Late last winter, Mom had a bad spell and her health started to fail. She started having falls and she stopped going to her social get-togethers. One day, Mom finally admitted she was feeling a bit "off" and that she didn't feel like going out to lunch with her grandson.
This was not Mom!! Mom never stayed home when there were activities to go to - especially when it involved spending time with family!
My sister went into the doctor's with Mom and told him flat out that she was not just another senior to have every ache and pain dismissed because she's OLD. The doctor was rude but finally compared the list of medications he prescribed with the printout from the pharmacy. Lo and behold, there was a pill in Mom's daily batch that didn't belong! It was what was making her so sick!
I had lost my job so over the next couple of months, while she recovered, Mom started staying at my place every weekend and sometimes longer. Spring brought nice warm weather so we would sit outside and enjoy the sunshine. Mom would smile and greet every neighbor that passed by and they soon started coming to join us - young and old alike.
Some evenings there would be quite a number of us congregated all around my door. Everyone brought their own chairs and we all contributed something to snack on or to drink. I had lived there for almost nine years but had never had a conversation with any of them - until Mom happened.
Everyone loved my Mom and she fit right in. They all called her Nana. As many of my neighbors were middle-aged or older and living alone, Mom also gave advice about avoiding loneliness by staying active, socializing and doing what you can to help those less fortunate.
By the middle of May, she started feeling better and her energy level increased so she was raring to get back to her apartment and her independence. Mom was herself again - a 4-foot, 9-inch ball of fire! So home she went.
One day a month later, Mom got up from her computer and called an ambulance to take her to the hospital as she was having terrible chest pains. My sister and I were with her when the doctor told Mom that she probably wouldn't survive the night as she had a massive blood clot in her heart.
Mom said "I'm ready. I've lived a good, long life but I wish I could have made it to 97.” She was 93.
We asked her, "What's so special about 97?"
Mom explained that an aunt in her family was the one who lived the longest and she was 97 when she passed away and Mom had wanted to beat her record. She then smiled and closed her eyes and started humming. Mom was never silent for long and always had a song to sing or hum. It was what brought her comfort throughout her life.
Mom lasted another 24 hours which enabled most of the family to get in to see her including her grandchildren, her great-grandchildren and even her newborn great-great-granddaughter whom she hadn’t yet seen. She was lucid and aware the whole time and made sure to give a piece of sage advice to each one.
This full-of-life, incredible woman left us gently, as she deserved. I can only hope to be half the woman she was, as she was one-of-a-kind. But I will always strive.
[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]