Marty felt horrible. It was on a Friday night. I begged her to go to the emergency room, but she would not. All the signs of a heart attack were present, but common sense took an untimely vacation.
She looked at me condescendingly and said, “I have a doctor’s appointment on Tuesday morning. I believe I’ll just wait for that.”
Inwardly, I cringed! I was not happy with that scenario! In my opinion, her condition was like a coiled snake, ready to strike at any moment. She was on the opposite end of the spectrum and acted exactly like the actress, Scarlett Ohara, in “Gone with the Wind,” who coined the phrase, “I can’t think about that today, if I do, I’ll go crazy! I’ll deal with it tomorrow!”
To Marty, Tuesday was soon enough for unpleasantries.
She was my best friend and my mother. I had a lot of experience over the years in the area of trying to dissuade her with no results, so I knew it was futile to argue with her. I needed another plan. Cannily, I called in reinforcements. I called my sister and aunt for help. Mom was crazy about them, and I was hoping they could influence her. Both were registered nurses and skilled in the art of persuasion.
When I told them how sick she was, they quickly came to evaluate mother’s condition. Impressed with my brilliant tactics, I smugly held back a smile and mentally prepared the trip to the emergency room. Mother met them at the door with her most welcoming, hostess grin on her face. My left eye quivered like I had a nervous tic then it blinked several times, rapidly. Already, the plan reeked of failure. It soon became apparent; this plan was not going as well as I hoped. Mother was nobody’s fool. She was a little bit crafty too! I resisted the temptation to groan out loud.
They all had a nice little chat, while I stood wearing a face, void of expression. Inside, I was seething! For a little while, there were a lot of grins and giggles, but my skilled mother never faltered with her little facade. Satisfied that she was ok, the ladies took their leave.
Being the sly fox I am, and not one to give up easily, I stepped outside the realm of mother’s hearing so they could explain to me why they didn’t attempt to persuade her to go.
Now, it was my sister and aunt, who patronized me. They told me, “Mom seemed to be ok with us. She was smiling and didn’t exhibit signs of distress. She will probably be ok until Tuesday.
UG! I felt like I was in the twilight zone and I was the only sane person left in my family. Defeated, I went back into mother’s house. She was sitting in her chair, exhausted. I kept my mouth shut, but I stayed with her all weekend. It was not an easy weekend. She had bouts of weakness, fatigue, and other symptoms. I looked up the ambulance number and kept it close in case she lost consciousness. I was not convinced that my mother would live through the weekend, much less, make it to the doctor on Tuesday. I was terrified.
It felt like Tuesday would never get there, but finally, it did.
I had to work so my sister took mom to the cardiologist. After the doctor had examined her, he said “Mrs. Bevel; there is nothing wrong with your heart. You experienced the heart attack symptoms because your heart did not have enough blood for it to pump. Somehow, you have lost a couple of pints of blood. I am going to call a surgeon for you.”
Immediately, the surgeon ordered a colonoscopy and during the procedure, performed emergency surgery. I was still at work, but several of my family members were there to support her so I went as soon as I could, hoping and praying for good news. When I arrived, I rushed down the long corridors to her room, and that’s where I found several family members. Every one of them was teary eyed and had worried looks on their faces.They were standing outside her room while the nurse took her vital signs. The doctor had just told them his findings. The results were cancer.
I was devastated! I guess we all were. I had not seen her yet. I girded up my loins to brace myself and then went into her room.
When I entered her hospital room the first time the room was so white, it almost blinded me. It took a moment for my eyes to adjust to the sterile color. The sheets were white, the walls were white, the room divider that hung between patients was white. I saw my mother, she was white as a specter. Seeing her look so frail and sick nearly knocked the breath out of me. I was at a loss for words, and then our eyes met. Her gaze broke through my hardened exterior, and a tear silently slipped down my face.
She admonished me, “Arhonda, don’t you start that!”
I could not believe she said that! Immediately, I became aggravated. I never talked disrespectful to her, but she asked too much of me.
I blurted out, “Mother, would you give me one second to be weak? I’ll do what I have to do to help you, but for this one second, I want to be human!”
One second was all she allowed. She haughtily informed me, “I plan to do everything I want to do, as long as I can! I am going to have fun and live until I die!”
I dried my tears. I honored the wisdom of her words, and we started on an incredible, but terrifying journey through sickness and life. As always, she was the teacher, and I, the pupil.
( If this story touched you, watch for the next chapter, named. “I’ll sleep when I’m dead!”)