Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Long day's journey into night

My sister and I
My mother and father
July 3, 1993
Photo taken the night before mother's open heart surgery

This is one of those days that causes my heart to contract and my eyes to tear up at the drop of a hat. I'm thinking of this day because 14 years ago my mother prepared to go under the knife to repair a faulty mitral valve and to have bypass surgery.

I remember I had a bad feeling about this surgery in the pit of my stomach. It was almost like standing on the edge of an abyss and barely keeping my balance, otherwise I would fall into a bottomless pit. The wheels were in motion for the surgery and I was helpless to stop it.

I remember spending the day with my mother in the hospital. I washed her hair, because she asked me to. I lovingly applied lotion to her hands and feet. I petted her, I hugged her, I talked with her, all the time fighting off the dread I felt.

Early on the morning of July 4th, my sister and I were allowed to accompany our mother to the holding area as they prepped her for surgery. We talked and laughed and tried to keep our spirits high. My mother stoically remained in good humor and as the nurses wheeled her into surgery, she called back to us that she would see us very soon.

After she was gone, all I could do was cry and cry. I was inconsolable.

My sister, brother-in-law, father, husband, and I waited for hours in the waiting room. Finally, her cardiologist came out to see us and to tell us that she made it through the surgery with flying colors. I knew my mother was a strong woman, but for an 83-year-old to go through open heart surgery and to survive was an amazing feat.

Over the next few hours we waited patiently in the family waiting room until they allowed us to go back to see her. My father took one look at her, broke down, and was taken home. He said he wasn't coming back to the hospital until she was better.

My sister and I were allowed just a few minutes each hour to see her. It soon became apparent, however, that mother wasn't waking up or responding. Extreme measures were taken but she still was not waking up. We thought she was having a bad reaction to the sedatives she was given.

The next day a CT-scan was done of her brain. Her doctor showed us the film. I took one look at the mostly black areas of her brain and decided that nothing further could be or should be done for her. No more tests, no more medications, and she would remain NPO. She did, after all, have advance directives that stated nothing would be done if she became brain dead.

My sister and I remained at the hospital 24 hours a day for the next 10 days. On July 13, 1993, our mother finally, mercifully, gratefully, left this life. She was at peace.

I will forever remember her death all the days of my life and hope I never have to go through what she experienced.

I will also forever remember my mother as the sweetest, kindest person I have ever known.

Mother, rest in peace

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At July 03, 2007 5:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I am sorry.

At July 03, 2007 6:23 PM, Blogger Cathy said...

Oh Mother Kitty, Im so sorry! Reading this has made me cry also. you know, no matter how long it has been, you never stop missing them!


At July 03, 2007 7:12 PM, Blogger Susie said...

I'm crying as I read this. I can feel your pain even after all these years. Wish I could be there in person to give you a nice big (((hug)))
Your family picture is wonderful. You all look remarkably alike

At July 03, 2007 9:38 PM, Blogger Sandy said...

Oh Motherkitty, I had no idea.

This is truely a very sad time for you and I wish I could be there with you. Won't you please change your mind and come to our cookout tomorrow?

I know what it's like to lose someone you dearly love after open heart surgery. You re-think all the things you talked about and the things you did together the day of the surgery when they were so alive only to remember the sadness of them not responding after the surgery. It's a day I know you will never forget. And a day I know you'll re-live for the rest of your life.

Love you

At July 03, 2007 9:41 PM, Blogger Nancy said...

I can relate to your sad feelings. Some memories are very strong and poignant. I know your mom is with you every day. I talk to mine frequently, and she has been gone 10 years. Prayers for you today..

At July 03, 2007 10:53 PM, Blogger Tomas Dennis said...

Her mothers name was Sara. She was a strong woman. She would stand up to a freight train. She never would allow herself to die so slowly and let her children suffer so. She would of said," Let me go". The doctors fed her and prolonged the family agony because they ignored the advance directives that stated nothing would be done if she became brain dead.
Sara was a great woman it was nice to know her and be part of her life.
Take Care love ya

At July 05, 2007 11:02 AM, Blogger Rosa said...

I am so sorry. Big hugs. xoxo

At July 06, 2007 6:07 AM, Blogger susan said...

You are in my thoughts, I am sorry you have to relive this every year at this time.

At July 10, 2007 8:56 PM, Anonymous Sweetie said...

I don't even want to think about the prospect of losing my Mother.

It sounds like you were strong for her and made her feel comfortable when she needed it the most.

At July 11, 2007 6:59 AM, Blogger Kerri said...

Such a sad story and a beautiful tribute to your dear mom.
I'm sorry you had such a difficult ordeal.
That's a lovely family photo MK. You look so much like your mom (and so does your sister). Your mom lives on in you. I'm sure you share her wonderful characteristics.
Hugs to you xoxo


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