I didn’t expect my mom to be alive this Mother’s Day. My brother and sisters and I thought we would be spending Sunday being melancholy, telling stories of what an amazing Mom we had. Over a year ago, she was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma…. for the third time. The doctor gave her two months -two years to live. Her first treatment in 2011 was basically swiping a credit card on her life to buy her some more time. Her second treatment included more horrific chemo. But seeing what it did to her body, it was more like watching her living through a torturous death.
I’ll never forget being in the hospital room with her that day during the stem cell transplant, which was expected to take hours. Just before the procedure began, they explained exactly what would happen, including what could possibly go wrong. That’s when this became real. We had been making small talk and telling fart jokes, just one of the ways my family deals with tense situations. A couple hours later, my mom is asking for pizza. The nurses were stunned that she was asking for food. One nurse said that that was “a first”… because most patients were too ill to even think about eating. But that’s my mom for ya. Regardless of what she had going on in her life, she did it with a brave face. Perhaps she could sense my anxiety as I watched her being infused with these stem cells and not knowing what the outcome would be.
It wasn’t often I saw my mom in any state of vulnerability. I wonder if she believed vulnerability was the equivalent to weakness. Her generation was the ultimate ‘suck it up’ generation. Or, I wonder if she was just accustomed to being strong, no matter the struggles she faced. Hearing stories of her childhood always made me feel that my generation is just a bunch of weak-asses who believe vulnerability is a positive character trait. We’re supposed to express our emotions and not hold anything back. Let it out.
Not to mention, we are addicted to instant gratification. We can’t accept waiting for anything anymore. If we need it, whether it’s an answer to something, directions, or clothes, food…. Frappuccino. We get it within minutes…either via our smartphone or at a store just down the block. I still remember when my mom would get so excited when ‘Dallas’ came on TV. Then for seven days she had to wait until the next episode. Plus, we had only 4 channels then! And it was only on a special occasion that we would go out to dinner. It was usually a Friday at the Sizzler. We would get dressed up and on the drive there, talk about what we were going to order.
Now? Choices, choices, choices. Where are we going to eat out tonight? Are we going to watch the Voice, Real Housewives of New Jersey, or binge-watch the Walking Dead? We pretty much get what we want, when we want it. And if we don’t, we bitch.
So on this Mother’s Day, I’m going to Be Like Mom. I’m going to put every effort in to not showing disappointment when my kids don’t get me anything. (They are teenagers, after all.) Or, no matter where or what we eat, I’ll appreciate that we are all together. I would, however, like to sit through the meal talking, and not checking our smartphones. J Maybe I’ll share some stories of the “good ‘ole days” I had growing up with Nana – which will likely get me a “Jeez, Mom, that was, like, forever ago. It’s not like that anymore. That’s so lame.”
I just want my kids to know how strong my mom is. She chose to bypass any treatment when she was diagnosed the third time. She said she did not want her final days to be spent suffering through chemo. That was the bravest thing I’ve ever seen her do. And you know what? She’s been SO at peace with her decision. And I’ve never seen her happier. That peace, along with some alternative treatment and a lot of praying, seems to be working! At her doctor appointment last week, she was told they didn’t need to see her for a year. Happy Mother’s Day to her!
There are many types of heroes in this world, and I’m proud to say that my mom is my hero. I continue to learn from and be inspired by her everyday. So, I guess I AM going to ask for something this Mother’s Day. I wish I am able to teach my kids that regardless what life throws at them, they can be as happy, selfless, and brave as their Nana, my mom.