Her Angel Wings – Battling Ovarian Cancer
We left off the last post with my step-dad’s ex moving in to take care of him. I know it sounds crazy, but it worked out wonderfully. They got along fine. And when we’d visit, we actually had the time to go see my mom more than when we were there to take care of my step-dad.
At the beginning of each visit, I’d find my mom was depressed. Rightfully so. But her doctor continued to indicate that she could survive her cancer. My mom claimed he had a “God” complex. Maybe so. I didn’t know him well enough to make that call.
But we did get to know my mom’s pastor. The man was a walking time bomb of doom. He continually encouraged her right to die, even though the doctor said she could make it. The pastor even admitted that he, himself, suffered from depression to my husband, Terry. Well, as they say, misery loves company. The man admitted that he shouldn’t be counseling depressed people. Terry called the district church and had him removed from visiting my mom. But my step-father objected to that and we had to allow the Grim Reaper to see my mom.
I’d go for a week’s visit, sometimes leaving work at a moment’s notice based on the tenor of my mom’s voice. We were so close I could tell when she was down, just from her tone. She’d choose all the correct words, but she could not overcome the way she sounded.
When I’d arrive, mom’s spirits would be down and she was ready to pass on. But by the time I’d have to leave, she was back to her upbeat self. I sometimes wonder how much was an act for my sake, or whether she might have healed better if I’d been able to stay with her the whole six months. I’ll never know. Either way, I didn’t have a choice. I had a job, a mortgage and bills to pay, not that I was choosing them over her. Never. I counted on the doctor’s word and went about my life juggling work, home and week long trips to see mom. If the doctor had said to stay, I’d have found a way.
There was one way that I was lucky. I had a lot of sick time built up and because my mom married my step-dad when I was a teen, I qualified for FMLA as he needed a caregiver. Since my mom was hospitalized, I wouldn’t have qualified for FMLA for her, because I wasn’t actually caring for her. And I was fortunate to work in an understanding environment that would have allowed me the time off, even without FMLA on my side. I took off a total of six weeks during the six months my mom fought for her life. My husband worked for a small family owned company. They allowed him to eat into his next year’s paid time off so that he could be with me. We are still grateful for their understanding and compassion.
The night mom’s intestines split was a night that I’ll never forget. My brother called and said we should come immediately that mom might not survive. I packed dress clothes for her potential funeral, with tears streaming. I packed jeans and t-shirts for the hospital. I packed tears that fell onto my clothes as I placed them in the suitcase. Then I called a co-worker and asked her to relay a message to my boss as I didn’t have my boss’ phone number. And I wanted my friend to pray, as I new she was a devout Christian.
Then we got in the car and sat on the interstate for hours. There had been a crash that stopped traffic. I watched the clock on the dash in silent prayer that I’d make it there in time to say goodbye. My cell phone rang when we were about five hours into the normally three-hour drive. My first thought was that we didn’t make it in time to say goodbye because of the traffic.
To be continued…