This past Sunday, upon leaving the hospital, my mom decided that she did not want to go back into the hospital again and that she would only accept hospice care. She said that she wanted to live out the end of her life at home with her family and friends around her in comfort and dignity.
Tuesday, my dad called me at work. He didn’t talk long but said, “John, your mother wants to see you.” It’s amazing the pull that those words can have over a person. I quickly dashed off a one sentence email and shut down my computer. I said to my boss, “I’m going to see my mother,” and within five minutes from picking up the receiver, I was turning onto the on-ramp to the interstate.
An hour later, I sat down next to Mom and started talking about how I sometimes think about her mom, about my Noni. I said, “Mom, sometimes I come home and talk to Gramma and I say, ‘You would have loved to see that’ or ‘You would love what Rene did today’. And my heart gets so welled up with positive emotion!” And my mom agreed, “Yes, and you will do that with me!” And I said, “I know.” And then I sobbed, the kind of sob that’s like an unformed word and caused my father to come in from the front yard and ask if anyone had called him.
Then I said, “but, you know how you sometimes have some lingering thoughts that keep coming back with people? How you wish you spent more time or talked about this or that?” And I told Mom I had one thought that I wanted to talk with her about, and that she could tell me how she felt about it and this way I wouldn’t spend my life second guessing it. I told her, “you know… we’ve had such a great life. How we never wanted for much and how you and Dad were always so giving. But I wonder, sometimes if I could have been more giving to you.”
She said, “John, John. You have been giving in all the ways a parent could ever expect. You all have, all you kids, have given me so much. You are all good people. You work hard and you are doing things that are interesting to you. You have good spouses and partners. And you are happy. And you are supportive of your brothers and sisters. And you all get along. And that is what any parent asks of their children.”
“John, let me tell you. You could have lived in a VW camper with your music. And you didn’t. Do you know how much heartache you could have given me? And you didn’t do that. So, please don’t worry. You have been giving back to your dad and me. And we are so proud of you, we are so proud of all of you.”