Thursday, September 5, 2013

My Mom

Aviva and the kids went to visit my mom in the city. They had lunch and were heading back to my mom's home when Aviva called me at work. When I answered the phone I heard this horrible, primal moaning in the background. I thought to myself "what's that noise? It sounds like someone's dying back there." Aviva urgently announced "You have to get over here right away! Your mom just fell and it's not good!"

I rushed out of the office cursing under my breath. You see my mom has cancer. On February 27, 2011 my mom was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. The cancer had metastasized in her brain, which is how she discovered something was wrong. They originally gave her 6 to 8 months to live. While she's outlived that, things are not good. She has a hard time walking and she falls a lot, her memory seems to be failing her, and yesterday I had a long talk with her and her oncologist, in which we were both painting the bright side of hospice care. The extent to which I don't get along with, and resent my mom, only makes matters worse. Anyway, even though I don't feel the direct impact, I cannot underestimate the toll this takes on me emotionally. I certainly feel more short tempered than usual.

Contemplating losing her and contemplating taking care of her. She makes it so difficult. When she fell Aviva and the kids were visiting her. They thought they were watching her die. Later Andrea said she wished they hadn't visited "because as much as I like to see grandma, I would rather not see her for years, than for her to die." I had to explain that she didn't fall because they visited and that it was a culmination of years of neglect, and was bound to happen.

My mom has this thing where she proudly "embraces denial" which can make it very difficult when decisions are required. She adamantly does not want to go to a facility, even though, ironically her apartment in lower east side Manhattan is a pig sty, because she's a hoarder. However, they do offer in-home hospice care, though she keeps forgetting this fact. Aviva says her forgetting is due to her not wanting to face her mortality. She was told she had 6-8 months 2.5 years ago, so...

I'm struggling will all the resentment I have for my mom insisting on neglecting herself for so many years. I asked her to quit smoking. For herself, long life, for me, for my kids, and her answer was always the same: "I smoke for my quality of life and I'm willing to suffer the consequences." I remember taking the train to see her in the hospital when she had only recently been diagnosed and seeing an ad that said something about "when you have lung cancer, you don't suffer alone." I think she must feel some guilt for what she's putting everyone else through, but I don't know.

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