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Gardenias, my mother’s favorite flower

After a heart attack, mitral valve damage, a second myocardial infarction and ICD implant, my mother was finally transferred from a smaller hospital in Clearwater, Florida to Tampa General Hospital. I remember waiting in the ICU waiting room for the helicopter to land and have my mom settled into a room where she would receive the advanced care she needed.  Unfortunately,  my mother’s condition deteriorated rapidly, something I could never have predicted. Her only chance of long term survival was a heart transplant.

 

It was August of 2000 when this happened. Dr. C from the transplant team came into the room to interview my mom.  I have known him since 1989.  I can’t remember if my sisters or my dad were in the room with me.  Memories are like that, some parts of a story are vivid and some are not.

“Dolores, has anything stressful happened to you in the last year?” he asked.

“Yes, my mother died,” she said.

“Mom, what are you talking about? That happened a year ago,” I said, words that have haunted me every since, words that can never be taken back and words that were not only insensitive but incredibly naïve.

I can no longer remember the exact time line of what happened in the next twelve hours.  My mother coded, and luckily my boss and best friend was the cardiologist in the room with her.  She survived and we were all able to go into the room to see her before the surgeon on call was going to perform urgent mitral valve replacement.  She wasn’t really awake, but the doctor was able to rouse her long enough to ask her if she recognized who was in the room with her.

“Yes, Fleischman,” she said. She often called him by our last name.

There were other things said before the code, but I only remember very few.  She said she had to get home to take care of something, but we never found out what it was. She also said she didn’t want to die on my nieces birthday.

I said, “Mom, you aren’t going to die.”

I didn’t say, “I love you.” I didn’t tell her all the things I should have been telling her since I had become a parent and realized that my mother must have loved me as much as I loved my son.  To be fair, we were not a very demonstrative family. We never kissed our parents good night or held hands.

She was wheeled into surgery and we were absolutely sure she would survive.  Hours into the night we waited.  My mother did survive the initial valve replacement, but as they were closing her, she began to bleed. They did another valve replacement, but my mother was not strong enough to survive.  We never got to talk to her again.

Seventeen years have gone by. My child is grown and is a parent now.  My nieces and nephews are grown.  Angel never got to meet her and neither did my granddaughter.

Not a day goes by that I don’t think about her. Every time I am with my sisters a mommy story is told.  Mostly we talk about her like we saw her yesterday.  She visits me in my dreams and we can often feel her presence in my dad’s house.

Almost everything in my dad’s house is the way my mom left it.  When I am there I am comforted by the fact that my dad knows we love him and he knows we loved her, even if we didn’t show it and often didn’t act like it.

I often think about how she lost her father when she was only 19.  She married shortly after and raised a family without her dad.  We didn’t talk about it much.  After I lost her I realized she must have thought about him every day.  She carried on with strength and dignity and so do I.  Crying is left for the shower or long solo car rides.  I bet that is what she did, too.

So tomorrow is Mother’s Day again.  We don’t really celebrate because we don’t have our mom anymore.  Even though I am a mother and grandmother, the holiday was never about me. It was about my mom.

She lost her mother a year ago, she said. Yes, mom, you were right and I am so sorry I didn’t know.

Serendipity is good luck in finding valuable things unintentionally. . . examples of serendipity have an important characteristic: they were made by individuals able to “see bridges where others saw holes” and connect events creatively, based on the perception of a significant link,” Wikipedia.org One day, while searching the internet, I came across The White Spirit […]

via The Serendipity of White Bear, the Spirit Bear and Grandma Tess — Marie Cheine

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Sometimes I don’t have the attention span to pay attention to a “new” show on Netflix.  That is when I rely on a “go to” show. A “go to show” is  one that has familiar characters and interesting story lines, but episodes that stand alone.  I can fall asleep, wake up, go to the next episode and not miss anything.  It is a show that I can watch over and over and not get bored, yet, not see for years.  This kind of show is almost like comfort food for the brain.

My “go to” show is NCIS.  Currently I am watching Season 3, Episode 13.  Besides the quality of the show and the great characters, there are 12 seasons on Netflix.  I can binge for hours and hours or not.  What a great feeling.

Your favorite “go to” show?

 

 

White Bears World

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Sometimes the path we take has unexpected barriers. For children with complicated illnesses every day can bring unexpected barriers. There is no better support for these children and their families than competent doctors and other parents and families who have gone through the same things. There is a way to get past the barrier and keep on going.

The purpose of White Bear’s World is to become a place for children to visit while they are in the hospital and even when they are home.  Plans for interactive games, apps and other creative outlets are only now in their planning stages. It is going to take a lot of work and a lot of kind hearted people offering their talents to make our vision a reality.   So far the assistance we have gotten is quite overwhelming and very soon some of it will be shared.

We also hope White Bear’s World will become a…

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sapling-154734_1280My niece is  being taken back to the OR. It is a very long complicated surgery for an amazing and complicated kid. She is in good hands. She is so much stronger than me because I just want to cry. But I won’t. She is having her her rib cage put back where it belongs and her scoliosis taken care of with rods. Know what she said to me this morning? When I see you next I will be 4’4″.  She really is the coolest kid.