Success Card #5
but the use we make of it.
~ Michel de Montaigne
Then, a little after 6 pm, my mom calls me. She is complaining of a pain in her back. A little more probing on my part and I discover that her pain is in the back of her shoulder. Her left shoulder. I ask if she was nauseous as well. She says a little. I told her I thought we should call 911. Her automatic response, "Do you think so?" "Yes, Mom. I do." Well, because of her hoarding she naturally didn't want to do that. I asked her if she wanted me to come get her. She did.
Twenty-five minutes later, I knock on her door. I try to open it. It's locked, of course. I hear her inside telling me she's coming. She steps onto the dark porch with her bag and book in hand, closing the door behind her. I ask her if she has a coat, for she is not wearing one. She says yes, then tells me she thinks she is sicker than she thought and asks me to take her things. I do.
I try to discover a little more about what is wrong with her. I'm holding onto her hand. Why does she think she is sicker? All she wants to do is sit down. There is a chair on the porch, but because of all the trash, it's hard for me to maneuver her there. She starts to weave, but is still standing upright. "Mom," I say, "Tell me what's going on. Tell me why you think you are sicker." But before she can respond, she collapses on the front porch. My mother is a large woman and there was no way I could keep her from falling. She smacks her head on the screen door.
Now I'm slightly frantic. She doesn't respond to my voice and when I try to sit her up, she is unresponsive. I quickly dig into my purse, pull out my cell, and put a frantic call in to 911. I tell them I need an ambulance and give them the address. I get transferred to the fire department. I repeat myself. They ask me questions. Is she concious? No. Is she breathing? Yes. Kind of. I can't explain to them what it sounds like. Yes, she's breathing and her mouth is moving. It's almost like she is snoring. They tell me to keep her warm, so I put her coat over her and take mine off to give her for added warmth.
Two minutes later, the medics arrive. Because the porch is dark, my flagging them down doesn't help. I finally yell just loud enough to catch their attention. There must have been at least a half a dozen people suddenly crowded around her trying to assess her condition. I try to succinctly tell them what her complaints were and why we were on the porch.
They very unceremoniously drag her off the porch and put her onto their gurney. The bundle her up and put her in the ambulance. One of the medics tells me they will let me know where they are taking her in just a minute. Then the aid truck is gone and another medic comes back to me. He tells me where they have takern her. He adds that he is unable to determine her prognosis, but he warns me it doesn't look good because of the kind of breathing she was doing. He further warned me that they would be intubating her on the ride to the hospital as well as pushing IV fluids.
I follow in my car, calling my sister along the way. I share with her what the medic told me, then tell her there is no sense in her going to the hospital as there really isn't anything she can do. She agrees and tells me to call her when I know more.
When I arrive at the hospital, I head for the emergency room triage nurse. I explain that my mother was just brought in by ambulance, but it occurs to me they don't even know her name. The triage assistant calls into the actual emergency room, briefly explains how she has a woman that says her mom was just brought in, and is put on hold. A minute later, the medic I was talking to at my mother's housecomes out. I'm delighted because he knows who I am. Another nurse comes out and takes some info such as my mother's name. Until then, she was a "Jane Doe."
Another minute later, I've got two nurses and a medic escorting me into the emergency room. They are trying to prepare me for what I'm going to see. They tell me there is activity on the monitor, but warn me it doesn't exist without them performing CPR.
I finally step into the room where they are performing CPR on my mother. The doctor quickly brings me up to speed, telling me that an ultrasound of her heart shows that it isn't beating on its own. I'm watching this young man working hard to keep my mother's heart going, but I shake my head. No, no, no, no, no. Don't. Stop. You can quit. She doesn't want any extreme measures to be taken to save her life. And in that instant, I realize my mother is gone.
I don't cry, I don't scream, I don't wail. I'm simply stunned. The doctors and nurses ask me questions and I respond. They are all very sympathetic. I finally push past all of them and go to her. I hold her hand and kiss her face. I call my sister.
So it is with sadness and regret that I focus on this quote. My mother was 78 when she passed away. That would be considered a long life by some. I still think of it as rather short. But as the quote suggests, it isn't how long you live, but what you do with your life.
My mother an ordinary woman with an fairly ordinary, albeit interesting, life. She gave birth to and reared five children. As a former military wife, she had travelled extensively. She never let on how she hated all the moving we did. And because I didn't know she hated it, I was always excited to go to a new place.
I have to finish this later. I went to be around 11:30 p.m. and woke up around 3:00 a.m. I've been awake ever since. It's now after 6. I need some sleep.