Friday, May 12, 2006
My Special Mother
I don't have a picture of my mother to post here, but if I did you would most certainly agree that she was the cutest little thing. You see, my mom was only 4'11' and maybe weighed a hundred pounds when she passed away. She had been this size for the last few years of her life. She passed away in 1999 two Sundays before Mother's Day. If I could tell you one thing about my mother it would be that she had the best attitude of anyone I ever knew. And this is an amazing thing which you will understand once I tell you a little more about "her story". You see, my dad passed away in 1979. Up to this time, my mother had not driven a car, gone into a bank to do business or alot of others things that today's modern woman does and takes for granted. So upon my father's passing, she had to "learn to live" all over again, so to speak. I took her to the bank for the first time, took her to the lawyer's office, and to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. She tried taking a driver's course through AAA but the instructor just wasn't patient with her, so yours truly taught her how to drive. I remember the day she took her driver's test: Mom took it in a 1970 Pontiac Catalina, which was a huge car. You could hardly see my mom in it. There were a bunch of teens taking their driver's test that day, too, but they were driving all of these little, compact cars. You go, Mom! She passed! This was like a new lease on life for her!! She started driving everywhere! My little mom...unbelieveable. Mom developed a new-found independence and life was going great. She drove herself to town and to see her different children and grandchildren. Life was good. Three years later, at the age of 53, Mom suffered a massive stroke which left her paralyzed on her left side. It was devastating to all of us. Once again, Mom had to start over. The doctors told us she would never walk again. That she would be in a nursing home the rest of her life, etc., etc. She spent the first month in Fairfield Medical Center without much of a change, but then was transferred to the Long-term Care Unit at Hocking Valley Community Hospital here in Logan and that is where she began getting her life back. During this first month, we prayed for mom without ceasing that she would have the desire to fight back, that she wouldn't give up. Well, once in Logan she began her fight. She fought her way through physical therapy and learning how to do menial tasks in new ways. She ate that hospital out of house and home....*grin*.....the doctors said it was her body's way of rebuilding and gaining strength. She did get stronger but didn't gain alot of weight, thankfully. I remember the first steps that she took. I was there. There was nurse on either side of her and she had this humongous brace on her left leg, but she took some of the most wonderful little, halting steps I about ever saw! I laughed and I cried and she said in her little wobbly voice, "Oh, Jewel, do you really think I did that good?" To which I just nodded my head and laughed and cried at the same time. I mean, I was told she would never walk, stand or have a life of any quality ever and here she was taking her first new steps. It was something I will never forget as long as I live. Over the next several months and years, Mom was able to go home again and live independently, though through the ensuing years, she did suffer various medical setbacks, among them being a heart attack, ephysema, copd. She was in and out of various hospitals, nursing homes, but she always found her way back home. She was such a fighter and always had such a great attitude and a smile for everyone.
When she was in Rockmill Rehab Center, she was put in a room with a lady who never left her room. She would not participate in any of the activities or socialize . Well, Mom slowly but surely got that woman out of their room and they played bingo and went to different parties and just became the best of friends and had fun. That was Mom. One time when she was in Logan Health Care, she had another roommate that didn't get the care she needed. Well, Mom saw that that changed and got this little lady involved in activities, too. Mom was just so full of life and laughter. The nurses and aides always gravitated to mom's room because they knew that happiness lived there.
She loved a good joke, but I had to watch her because she liked the ones that were a little off-colored and I admonished her to "keep 'em clean" Mother. One time when Mom was in the emergency room because she was having trouble breathing, Bev and I were sitting with her. There was a young, good-looking respiratory therapist getting ready to give her some sort of test or treatment. He was unbuttoning her blouse which had these little buttons that were hard to work with. He was having difficulty with them and my dear little mother looked at him and said in an ornery voice, "Honey, you act like you've never undressed a woman before.." He kind of blushed and Bev said, "Moooother!!!!" It was soooo funny!!!! That was Mom.
Another time when she was in Park Medical Center in Columbus, a young doctor came to her room to do an ultrasound on her leg. Of course, he had to lift her leg and put it in this contraption and Mom said to him, "You know, I've decided that I don't have private parts anymore. You see, in the shape I'm in I've been dependent on everyone else for everything and they've seen everything I have soooo no more private parts for me." We were speechless, but amused. That was Mom.
One of the last times we had to put Mom in the hospital, as they were wheeling her into her room, she motioned for one of the nurses that she knew well, to come to her bedside. She said, "Shannon, do you know what one strawberry said to the other strawberry?" "If you weren't so fresh we wouldn't be in this jam!" Even when she was sick, she wanted to make others laugh and smile.
I pray that I can always keep such a wonderful attitude when adversity comes. I pray that I will be able to look beyond myself and my situation enough to bring light and happiness to others. I pray that I will always make the best of any situation that life hands me. For that is what my mother exemplified. Thank you, Mom.