The Best Time Was...

 

Remembering Mom - (June 15, 1976) In 1976 my mother died of cancer one week before my eighth grade graduation. This didn't upset me as much as you might think it would have if you could imagine your own mother dying. But, since 1968 my mother was battling this deadly disease.

It seemed like there were a couple of stretches within those eight years when she was going to the hospital once a month or more as an outpatient for chemotherapy treatments. They gave her morphine to take home so she could inject herself when the pain was too much to bare. Almost every time she came home from her outpatient visit, she would bring me a couple of Texas red hots because she knew how much I loved them. There was one time that I remember that she didn't bring me my favorite treat, but I can't remember the reason. I do remember that I got very mad at her, but looking back, it seems like such a trivial thing to get mad over. I can't figure out why I was so cruel instead of realizing the pain that she was going through.

When I was in the fourth grade (1972), our music teacher assigned a project for us to do. Mine was going to be about Frederick? Handel, the composer of "The Messiah". But, like a typical student, I put off the research until it was too late. The day the assignment was due, I told my mother I was sick and didn't want to go to school. She knew what was really wrong. I stayed home that day and my mother disappeared for a few hours. Later when she came home, she gave me a small scrap notepad. It had many pages of writing scribbled out in pencil. Those scribblings were the research that I should have done but my mother did it for me. I wrote out my assignment using her notes and handed it in when I got to school. I ended up getting an A- on the paper and I never told anybody the truth about how I got it done.

Around 1974, while watching TV with my mother, I noticed her head was laid back against the wall and she was making strange noises as she was trying to breath. I was very frightened because this was the first time anything like this happened. I called the rescue squad and later found out that my mother had had a seizure. The next day she went to the hospital, and later we found out the reason for her seizure was that she had developed a brain tumor. I remember her crying on the phone as she told me the news.

For the next two years, she had several more seizures despite the new drugs she had to prevent them. Each time, it seemed like it got worse and worse. I remember the last seizure that she had at home; it was so bad that she was shaking so much that my older brother, John, had to hold her down on the couch. I remember I heard her say to John, "I'm scared, I don't want to die, hold me".

Maybe now you could understand why I found it easier to accept her death. We were all going through great emotional pain, but she is the one who had to live with the physical pain. She was admitted to the hospital for the last time. I remember the phone call we got, it was Tuesday June 15 in the evening, three days before my sister Mary's birthday. John answered the phone and I was in the kitchen. When he hung up the phone, he said, "Ma didn't make it". I didn't cry for her then, not like I did when she was having the seizures.

The next day, I still went to school because I had final exams (and I thought she would have wanted me to continue my school responsibilities). I was taking care of the morning milk when the principal made 'the announcement' on the PA system. Everyone was shocked, especially the teachers who were giving me exams that day. I tried not to get emotional, but some of the other kids did.

My mother was buried on my sister's birthday just four days before my graduation from Queen of Peace Catholic Elementary School. Later that year, my brother John joined the Navy.

I Love You Mom !!!

Jim

Even though it was a terrible struggle to have to go through, I have so many great memories of my Mom, and... Those were the best times!

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JAK - 2006