A couple of weeks ago I answered my phone. The Land Line. Doesn’t sound like a big deal except for two things that were out of the ordinary. First off, I answered my phone. I never ever answer my land line. t seems that when I o answer it , it is a political call (OMG if YOU do not vote for our guy/gal the planet goes straight to hell), a survey (If you were to vote today), a sales call (do you are your family ever want solar, heating vents or your carpets cleaned). In order for me to answer requires a small brain cramp on my part or maybe just a devil may care attitude at that moment.
But answer it I did which leads me to the second unusual thing. It was my mother. No, my mother calling is not unusual. She leaves a message, I call back. Did I mention I have a answering machine so all those folks who said I called you and no one picked up look like liars? I am getting off track though.
It was my mother and she says to me, first thing, “Hi I don’t want you to freak out or anything but…” But what Mom? I thought maybe one of my siblings had passed. My oldest sister is in poor health, with another sibling it would not be surprising to hear they passed after abusing their bodies with alcohol for so many years. That is what I thought she was going to say. I was wrong.
She says to me, “I have cancer”
You what? Mom? Cancer? That kind of took my breath away. My mom is in her 80’s, old but cantankerous. her answer to “How are you?” is usually “mean, grouchy and unreasonable.” I know no one lives forever but, sheesh , cancer? Nope mom is supposed to go peacefully, unexpectedly in her sleep.
I am the type of person who does not freak out during a crisis so I did not immediately cry. I did that later. I asked some questions. Probably not enough as I learned when I was unable to answer questions asked of me later on. I did learn she has a teacup sized tumor in her breast and tumors in both arms. I learned that she went an got some tests done but stopped short of invasive testing. She says she is 80 years old and refuses to go through pokes and prods and treatments that make you sicker.
I get it. I understand. I also feel it is her life she is in charge. The rest of my sisters and brother may not agree. I know that some of them definitely would want her to get the best and most advanced treatments possible., basically do everything within human power to fix. Not me. I will abide by what she wants and feels is right for her. i do not think anyone understands the fear she must have or the desire for her to maintain her dignity.
She also asked me what of her possessions I wanted. I guess she had already talked to some others in the family. They have already made their selections of possessions they wanted. One sister even is sending her son to pick them up, she herself is not coming. Sigh. I responded with the truth. There is nothing of hers that I desire. That her memory lays in my head and my heart not in her stuff. It makes me sad that stuff is important. It makes me sad that my mommy is dying.
I am still processing this information she has given me. All I know right now, is I will be taking her back to Hawai’i, to the sunset over Waikiki once again, to see my brothers grave at the punchbowl. Just once more to feel the Aloha. Then we will deal with what is next.