Around 11:30 this morning, just after returning from breakfast out with Grace, the phone rang and it was my mom calling. In typical fashion for my mother when she wants to talk about something serious, she was very vague, saying only that she needed me to come up to her house in Marysville to discuss “business”. Since we are not actually involved in a business, I knew that it at least in part meant money.
So a couple hours later, I drove up there and got the scoop.
First she told me that she was going to sign her car, which we are buying from her since last june, over to us. I pretty much expected that.
Then she told me that a couple of months ago, she found a lump on her breast. Now, if there is one thing my mom knows about, it’s cancer. Her mother and her mother’s twin sister both died of it. one of my mom’s own sister’s died of it. My dad and stepdad both died of it. And in the early 1960’s, my mom herself fought it and survived it.
So she went a week or so ago to see my sister’s no nonsense doctor, who told her it was almost certainly cancer. But there were no tests done yet.
And there won’t be too many done next week when Mom goes in again. A few blood tests and an x-ray is all that will be done.
Why? Because that is all Mom wants done. She firmly told the doctor that there would be no big needles, no cutting open, no painful tests. Should it prove to be a malignant tumor, there will be no chemotherapy, no surgery, no radiation…in short, no treatment. Pain meds when the pain gets bad, but that is it.
Also no hospice or hospitals.
As Mom told me, she’s nearly 84 and not inclined to suffer all of those tests and treatments only to find out they didn’t work or if they did, just to “hang around a few more years all weak with parts missing”.
Now, I could have argued with her (amazingly, neither of my siblings did) and, given that I have all the legal powers over her that she could give me a few years ago, I could force her to get treatment, but that ain’t gonna happen.
Mom has made her choice and, were I in her place, it would probably be the one I would make. She is opting to go forward on her terms, knowing full well what the end will be. It’s her choice to make.
Some people might think this is crazy and ask why she would not fight for every extra secondminutehourdayweekmonthyear she could get. I’m not sure they would understand, but here’s my (and Grace’s take on it.
Life is not about the destination, because we all end up at the same place in the end. Life is about the journey.
And my mom has had a long, extremely eventful journey full of all those things humans experience. Maybe more than many experience. She’s lived though the Great Depression, many wars, social upheaval, love, childbirth, pain, happiness, loss…everything that happened to her between 1928 and the present.
But the last few years have been a pretty lonely stretch of the journey. Two husbands and all of her siblings gone, along with just about every friend her own age and several who were younger…children and grandchildren all grown up…health pretty good, but a touch less every year…less and less desire to go places she’s been to a million times. Life has become more of a burden and I think Mom is tired of carrying it.
She’s winding down. We all do it sooner or later, but for some people it’s just easier to do. If you know that sort of person, it’s easier to see. I’ve seen it happening to Mom over the past 3-4 years.
Does this bother me? No, not at all. Everybody should be able to check out of this life whenever they truly want to. My mom is no exception. As I said before, it’s her choice
Now, Mom told me that she will stick around as long as she can, and she may well last a good long while. Hell, the lump in her breast could be benign. She’s in a remarkably calm and fatalistic mood about all this and her sense of humor is still sharp.
But being of Irish stock, we’ll go into this thinking Death is just outside waiting in his car, ready to come ring the doorbell anywhere from tomorrow to years from now. We’ll assume Mom is dying. After all the cancer related deaths in our family, it’s how we roll.
I love my mother and when she is gone, I’ll miss her very much, but until then, I’ll play this out by Mom’s rules.
Thanks for listening.