My Mother part II (from 87-92 years old) or Only the Good Die Young

She sent herself to an assisted living facility.  One day, she fell and broke her hip.  She went to a rehab center and came out stronger than she went in.  A year later,  she called me:  “I met someone,” she sort of whispered.  “OK,” I said.  “He lives here.”  “We’re in love,” she continued.  “Just don’t get pregnant,” I said.  The nurses giggled when I came to “meet” him.  They had caught them in bed the night before.  “He asked me to marry him,” she continued.  I choked.  “What did you say?” I asked.  “I’m thinking about it.”  She sounded sort of serious.  She was on medicaid and you cannot get married on medicaid.  “He has some issues,” she said.  It turned out that he had a pacemaker, cancer, was blind and incontinent, and was suffering from dementia.  My mother had Parkinson’s and her judgement which had always been questionable, now was worrisome.  He “liked her voice.”  She could not really hear him.  She liked that he was tall. He drew her pictures which she scotch taped  to her walls. He thought they would marry and move out to their own house.  He died of a broken heart.  She survived. 

She fell a third time and broke her pelvis.  That did her in and she ended up in a nursing home.  She lasted a year and a half. She died peacefully in her sleep.  She was almost 92 years old.  She had always hated cats.  They scared her the way they crept up.  But she herself had had nine lives. 

I put the photos of my mother away.  I am in my living room, sitting on my couch, looking out the four large windows that are opposite me.  I can look out at the street and the passersby and they cannot see me. I had gutted and redone each room one by one.  I left the best: the living room for last. 


My Mother

I am an only child.  I wish I had a sister.  I could pretend her name is Johanna.  I have always loved that name.  Johanna and I could get together for a cup of coffee twice a month – just the two of us.  We could share DNA stories and laugh.  I got Mom’s fucked up feet.  You got Mom’s premature white hair.  I got Dad’s space between the teeth.  You got Dad’s flat feet.  I got Mom’s arthritis.  Hopefully you don’t get Mom’s cancer.  We could laugh and cry remembering. 

At 65, my mother had gone in for a routine hysterectomy  and called me to tell me that she “had had a touch of cancer.”  She didn’t know what kind. It turned out to be mesenchymal sarcoma.  A very rare and unusually aggressive kind of cancer.  Sloan Kettering gave her a 25% chance of making it. 

She did survive.  She survived the surgery and the chemo and she went on to live another 26 years.  She survived breast cancer at the age of 72.  She survived a rare form of noncontagious TB at 82.  She took megadoses of two very potent antibiotics for 18 months.  She developed a yeast infection and lost twenty five pounds. She managed to cure it by eating Activia yogurt.  At 87, she fell and broke her back.  She got shingles.  And only then did she retire from her part time job.!