This was posted as an old Facebook Note. I wanted to move it here because it gives the most detail to one of the two worse weeks of my life. I cannot read it. But I wanted it here so that I had it if I needed to read it. I miss Ma all the time. Friday will be seven years. Seven.
Update – Mom
On Thursday morning at 730 Mom started routine dialysis in Fayetteville. About twenty minutes into dialysis my Mom called to the nurse three times then collapsed. Luckily for us, two paramedics had just finished unloading another dialysis patient when Mom collapsed. They were able to start CPR immediately. Mom’s heart and breathing had stopped. They put Mom into the ambulance and took her to Plateau Medical Center in Oak Hill. There they bagged Mom so they could force her to breathe. A classmate from high school (Gina Thomas) worked on her diligently. And although I am sure there were other people who also worked on her, it gave me comfort that someone I knew personally was taking care of her. I hope to find the names of the paramedics and send them, as well as Gina, a thank you note so they know how much I appreciate what they did for my Mom and our family. It was decided that she would be transferred to CAMC. During the ride to Charleston they put her on a ventilator to assist her with breathing. Although she was taking very shallow breaths, not enough to sustain, this machine forced her to take deeper, much needed, breaths.
Dr Walker is the doctor at the Medical Intensive Care Unit (MICU) and was wonderful in answering a million questions for me today to secure the timeline and what exactly happened and somewhat helped me understand what to expect. Upon her arrival they realized that (through blood work) Mom had a severely elevated white blood cell level. That meant she had an infection somewhere in her system. Dr Walker explained that with an infection (possibly a kidney or urinary tract infection) in her system when the dialysis started (an with my Mom having lower blood pressure) when the fluid shift occurred it was too much for her system, the blood pressure probably dropped much lower and then cardiac arrest occurred. They have done a urine culture to see if it is possibly a urinary tract or kidney infection and they have done a blood culture so they may determine exactly where the infection is in her system. The urine culture would be checked at 24, 48 and 72 hours. At the 24 hour check there was no sign of infection there. However but her urine was of a color that would lead you to think otherwise. Dr Walker said it is still possible that at 48 or 72 hours the culture will show infection. They are running a course of antibiotics to combat infections in the system. There is a possibility that if the infection is cleared up, she may come to. Removing the infection may be the answer.
On her first day at CAMC a cat scan was performed to see if it could be determined whether Mom had a stroke. That came back with nothing. There was no bleeding, swelling or bruising. That I thought was a good thing. However, I was told that it is possible that a stroke might still show up in a later cat scan and it is possible another cat scan will be performed in the upcoming days. The MICU nurse explained to me that it is possible that Mom suffered a cerebral hypoxia between the time she stopped breathing and the time the ventilator was inserted. (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001435.htm). If she did suffer from a cerebral hypoxia it might not show up on a cat scan. Today I asked if we could perform some test to determine if she has brain activity. It was explained that those types of tests would probably prove inconclusive because of her condition, infection in the system, medications she is taking, etc. All of these could possibly slow down her brain patterns.
Today is day two at CAMC (but feels more like day two hundred). Mom has still not woken up. Dr Walker said she was non-responsive the first day there. Today she fought opening her eyelids when he was trying to examine her. This evening the night nurse explained that she did not receive the same resistance. When they clean her ventilation tube and suction out her mouth she will open her eyes, they will blink. I try to talk to her at this time (well, at that time and all times that I sit with her) to offer outside stimulus that might bring her more into consciousness. She yawns a lot. It could be reflexive or reactive. Reflexive is just something the body does, reactive is when people around her are talking that she is hearing them.
Erin tells me when people pat me it is a sign of their compassion and I should embrace it. So I have been trying. Sigh. The first person to pat me, I encountered yesterday morning when I received the news. My Dad is hard of hearing so when he called me and I was still on the LIRR making my way into the city – I apologized to the woman next to me and told her I had to take the call (doing that because I hate the “I cannot wait until I get to the office to talk on the phone” kind of people I deal with daily). The woman next to me (upon hearing me half yell to Dad as he explained to me about Mom and subsequently burst into tears) held onto my elbow. As I called Christopher to tell him and the details of my tragic call which then went public to the section of seats I was in, the woman began to pat my arm, offer me a tissue and then spoke to me as we entered Jamaica and say I should get off the train there as it did not make sense to ride into NYC and then all the way back. Getting off there would cut my trip in half… The second patter happened on the platform when an older woman saw that I was crying and that the tissue had disintegrated. She asked if I needed help. All I could get out was that I needed to go home. She handed me a new tissue and told me she would pray for me. Not sure what she thought was wrong with me, but I appreciate her prayers, even if they were not for Mom but just that I regained control of my emotions. Patter three was in the concession area of the hospital at about 1030PM. I was the only one there and (having just seen my Mom in her condition and having had cried for around fourteen straight hours) I was outside of my own mind. The little man was talking and talking and talking. I was staring at him when I realized he had stopped speaking and had his hand on top of mine on the counter, patting my hand. He said, I am sure whatever it is that brings you here will get better. There have been other patters (I have started thinking of them as stranger angels) but my best angel was – I decided to stay with Mom until wee hours last night. I sent Chris and the kids to a hotel (where another stranger angel gave us an extremely discounted rate). At 1130 the nurse chased me out and told me she was to perform an assessment and I would not be able to come back in until well after midnight. So I went to the next level’s waiting area where there was a rather large chair. I climbed in, texted Chris and then Erin and then realized I was cold enough to shiver. I pulled up my hoodie, tied my scarf around my neck and pulled my knees to my chest and abruptly fell asleep. Around fifteen till one I woke a little and realized I was very warm. Opening my eyes I realized that a nurse had turned off the overhead lights and covered me with a blanket.
To all of these people – I thank you. The kindness of strangers always throws me off kilter. Erin reminded me that there are compassionate people out there. Sent to you to comfort you at random times for random reason. I wish I had all of their names, I would love to send them thank you notes to tell them thanks for the few seconds they took out of their day to help me along my way.
And now here I sit at Motel6, Christopher snoring next to me. I am exhausted but do not feel as if sleep will find me any time soon. I want to thank all of you for the wonderful way you have wrapped your arms around me and have prayed over me and my family. When my mind would not accept what it was I was about to face, I simply read your messages to remind me that I was not alone on this journey, that so many of you were right there with me – offering those pats from around the world.
Thank you so much for your support. We still have a long way to go. Mom did not want a ventilator for more than seven days. Tomorrow starts day three. Time is quickly slipping through my fingers like fine grains of sand with a frustrating rapidity that does not hear my pleas. My cheeks are raw from crying, eyes swollen. My morbid sense of humor catches up with me ever so often as my coping mechanisms kick in. I have seen both my children and my father cry. My heart is so terribly raw and exposed. I cannot fathom what I (and my family) will endure in the days that are coming at us like a mack truck at warp speed… All I can continually think of is that I cannot imagine a world without my Mom in it and it is not fair that this is happening to her at such a young (62yo) age…
Christopher is an angel of his own accord. Sent to me exactly when I needed him. I cannot imagine being here and going through this without him. Warm loving arms wrapped around shoulders shaking from the sobbing, a gentle voice telling me to breathe deep before I hyperventilate, soft kisses on my forehead where my thoughts race with a violent speed. He has given me the strength I could not have mustered alone. I will be forever grateful.
So, again, thank you guys for your love, support and prayers. You will never realize how I appreciate the comfort you have offered.
Happy BDay Ma…
Midnight ushers in my Ma’s bday. She would have been 64 years old. So, I have decided to see if I can come up with 64 factoids about my Ma before the stroke of midnight….
1. She called me Sunflower because it was the tallest flower in the garden and always caught the sunshine. Every morning at 930 she would call my office. Her first words “Good Morning Sunflower”. I would give anything for one of those phone calls now. Her voice is still on my Daddy’s answering machine, even now.
2. She married James Paul Seletyn when I was around two ish. She wore a yellow dress with flowers in her hair. I matched. I attached a pic of that day to this note. She looks SO happy…
3. Her parents’ names were Alexander and Pauline Taraczkozy.
4. She was 21 when she had me in New Brunswick, NJ.
5. She worked for the post office somewhere around Atlantic City, NJ. When she came home she studied and became a nurse, working in the Peds unit of BARH. That is where she met Susie Seletyn, my Nana and that led to her meeting Daddy.
6. I told Ma I wanted to be a Thespian. She told me to not worry, my luck with men would get better.
7. She was on the phone with me once, while she was driving and all I heard was, “Oh no. I think I… yeah, I took off his mirror.”
8. She once punched the manager of the Beckley KMart because he was an asshole.
9. She rarely drank, but when she did it was a Tom Collins. Since her death January 13, 2010 I have had a number of Tom Collins in her honor. Not really sure what the draw was for her… blech!
10. She would use the word “fuck” and would follow it with “and you KNOW I don’t ever use that word.”
11. She once was so mad at the kids she wouldn’t talk to them for a day because they insisted she had ADD and she thought that meant she was retarded.
12. She loved her Grandbabies with a fierceness.
13. She threatened to “rip the testicles off” of Alex’s father when she found out I was pregnant.
14. When I was a Senior in high school she found out about a time when IN FOURTH GRADE I may, or may not have, taken off my skirt to whip the ass of a little boy who taunted me. And, although that may, or may not have, happened eight years before, she acted as if it had JUST happened.
15. She would spank me with the metal end of the flyswatter. I regularly got spankings. She wore diamonds on her hands. Sass – backhand – taste blood – didn’t do it again. I can remember calling her Witch Hazel under my breath once. Standing at my Grandparents’ back door… that one hurt. LOL I deserved every one I got and a number of them I didn’t.
16. She had a fondness for freaking us all out by walking around the house naked on occasion.
17. When she first brought home my brother, Max, the Chihuahua, she used to keep him between her boobs (he was that small, they were that large). He went with her to church, the store, everywhere…tucked in her boobs.
18. She bought me two bandaids for my 18th birthday because, unlike her, I was severely flat chested. She told me that was my new bra.
19. The last time I was paddled by mean old Ms Johnson at Scarbro Elementary, she was the one that caught the teacher’s arm on the downswing before it busted my ass and then she pinned her to the wall. That was one day before I was enrolled in Catholic School. The Nuns hurt more than Ms Johnson could EVER imagine. However, the education I received at Sts P&P was ALSO much more than Ms Johnson could EVER imagine.
20. Coach Ray once had to call me into the office to stop her from trying to whip a teacher. Oh, that was a good one.
21. She once caught me heading into the raft guide hotel across from the Chuck Wagon in Fayetteville to pick up Greg Massie. Terri Sizemore was standing in the doorway trying to tell me my Mom was in the parking lot. I turned around and was able to get out “Oh fuck” before she caught me square in the mouth. I walked four miles home that night. I can remember putting my leather fringe jacket in the car so it would not get wet. Yes, leather fringe.
22. She was at school for EVERY event that I participated in, every event that Alex and Amanda participated in (while in WV schools). She was a scout master while Alex was a boyscout. She was actively involved in all of our lives as kids. She drove when there was a school trip, she went to Kings Island and to Busch Gardens as a chaperone. She baked cupcakes for birthdays. While at Xavier, she would make sure to send things for the people in rooms around mine in the care packages. She cut out cartoons from the paper and put them in envelopes with my dorm-mates’ names on them.
23. She would be SO proud of Alex, finishing college this year. She loved looking at the pictures Amanda created.
24. She once chased me round and round the house because my Aunt Debo let me bring home a playgirl centerfold of a male ballerina.
25. Had to be called to school because I explained to my sixth grade class that I was going to have all of my children via artificial insemination.
26. I get my love of reading from Ma. Up until she lost her vision from macular degeneration. Although most of her vision was recovered, it was not enough for her to pick up her reading like she used to.
27. Her perfume of choice was Sierra. I have a dozen partial bottle of the cologne in a drawer in my bedroom. I found them all in different places in the house after she died.
28. She loved The Bee Gees and Tina Turner.
29. “Who let the dogs out!” brings back memories of her crossing a dance floor, arms over her head, big boobs bouncing EVERYWHERE while yelling “dance with me!! dance with me!!” – yeah, that was a Tom Collins night….
30. She made the best spaghetti in the world. I cannot come close to replicating it. Tried. Epic fail. I HATED her meatloaf (I know the kids will roast me for that one). I wish I could make chicken paprika like she did…. Debo – do you have the recipe?
31. She and Manders used to make cupcakes in ice cream cones. Those were the best.
32. She once paid Montgomery Wards in pennies because they pissed her off.
33. Her middle name was Yolanda.
34. Upon her death I found see through panties and a nudie magazine in her cedar chest. That was a needed laugh in the middle of the roughest week of my life.
35. LOVED her some Kris Kristofferson. LOVED.
36. Was tone deaf as the day is long. Listening to her sing during Mass was always a highlight.
37. Carried a small pistol with her for many years. Small enough to fit in a clutch purse.
38. Carried a credit card wallet that was stuffed to capacity. Would borrow money to go on summer vacation and pay it off throughout the year. It would be paid off just in time to borrow again for the next vacation.
39. When microwaves first came out did an amazing amount of hinting that was what she wanted for Christmas. Even Ray Charles could have seen what she was putting out there. Daddy bought her jewelry. The big bag of potatoes she bought for baking in the microwave oven was a point of contention. I gift shopped for Daddy from then forward. That included Ma telling me what she wanted, me getting the money from Daddy and then buying it. No real surprises there… lol
40. For my 18th bday she bought me 18 gifts. Included were two pairs of cowboy boots. One pair sit in my closet in my bedroom as I type this.
41. Was a speed demon. When my water broke with Alex, we were pulled over by a Cincy cop on our way to the hospital. She refused to pull over, kept speeding – he corralled her off the road. My labor pains went from three minutes apart to completely stopped….
42. Was blind in one eye because of a BB gun accident when she was like four. Had it happened today, modern technology would have saved her sight.
43. She made every Christmas HUGE. She loved doing up Christmas right.
44. Never approved of a single person I was romantically involved with. God knows I gave her enough options to find at least one. But alas, she did not.
45. Was short. Like 5’4″ short. And huge chested. lol
46. Her blue purse still hangs at the top of the stairs in my Daddy’s house.
47. Left behind around twenty rolls of undeveloped film. I will probably get a roll developed tomorrow to see what gift I can find on her bday.
48. Once told me (I was maybe six) that I could not stay at my Mawmaw’s and Pawpaw’s because I did not have a toothbrush and clean panties. The next weekend I had both…stuffed in my sock! When she once again said I had neither, I showed her different. She held true to her word. I stayed at Mawmaw’s and Pawpaw’s that weekend.
49. Loved flannel gowns. Still have one in my closet. During the cold months of winter, we have forced air heat, she would stand over the vents and the heat came on – flannel gown fluffed out to capacity.
50. My God she could piss me off in ten seconds flat, have me so mad I could bite bullets and then would walk away smiling, happy in knowing I was blowing my fuse.
51. Both of her thumbnails had deep ridges down the middle. That came from a sleigh riding accident when she was a kid. The rails ran over her thumbs.
52. She was diagnosed with diabetes at thirty.
53. She once tried to scare a doctor by telling him I was a lawyer for HIPPA. HOWEVER – there was this one time she fell in a grocery store (the one next to KMart in Beckley). Her cane went flying. I asked the store manager to file an accident complaint. After Ma went to the doctor, I wrote a letter to the grocery store stating that I “represented” her and the store must have thought I was a lawyer seeking settlement. I was able to “settle” for a couple thousand for her… lmao
54. She loved regular Coke and ice cream sandwiches.
55. Every birthday she would make me German chocolate cake with coconut pecan icing.
56. She collected angels. I think one or two collected her right back.
57. She was a firm believer in frozen banquet dinners through most of my high school years. lmao Nowadays I am NOT a huge fan of Salisbury steak for just that reason.
58. Because of her eye injury, she had one blue eye and one green eye. Alex used to take his hands and put them on her cheeks, look into her eyes and say “what colors are your eyes Mawmaw”. He as like three.
59. She used to drag me to tent revivals when I was a kid. We would take Mawmaw. I can remember the preacher’s face, cannot remember his name….. wait….. Brother Owen!!
60. She once (mistakenly) bought Mander a pair of underwear and sent them to NY – they were so big the fit across the entire hood of my Ford Explorer!!
61. She was once lost coming to NYC to bring the kids home. She asked a random stranger (much to the chagrin of Alex and Mander) to let her follow him to get her back on course. Through Perth Amboy, NJ they went with Amanda calling me on the cell and whispering “I am scared, Mawmaw is going to get us killed.”
62. Could hold a grudge like NOBODY’s business.
63. Loved to go to the movies. Scarier the better. Fond memories of seeing with her – American Werewolf In London, Ghost Ship – and (although not scary) The Empire Strikes Back.
64. One factoid for every year – this last one is simple – Sunflower misses her Ma so much. I have teared up in Mass every Sunday at some point. There are random times that she will creep up on me and remind me of something. I can hear her words in my thoughts. I would give anything to throw my arms around her and to kiss her cheek and wish her happy birthday.
I love you Ma. Happy 64th Birthday. Tell Fr Moore, Mawmaw and Pawpaw I said ‘hey’!
I bet you give the angels a run for the money, don’t you?
Love you, Sunflower.
Same as Usual
I miss my Mom this morning a little more than I do other mornings. As I finish up a round of yoga at the instruction of Rodney Yee, I can imagine my Ma saying that she has her yoga with strawberries because she does not like the bland taste.
I am in a sort of limbo right now. This weird and infuriating place that really makes no sense to me but that I continue to exist in anyway. I try to express it best I can through my words. I know some of my fellow FB’ers feel that I am too expressive. But those are the one who only know me on the fringes of this life. Who have not come to realize that my life is pretty much a window with open curtains that passersby can glance through the panes and see what is going on inside. I have health issues, I have financial issues, I have lovelorn issues – always with the issues. I have started to bore myself with issues. The reason why I miss Ma is because I know that I could call her, she would hear the tone of my voice and know to ask – what’s going on. And usually I would start out with some mundane bit about nothing but as I talked I would come back around to whatever ailed me. And although she rarely had the solution to my problem (we lived on two different planes of the same existence) she would say something or do something that would trigger whatever it is in me that made me realize that I was being foolish, or that I was better than that, or that although it might not be alright, I will get through it. And though my friends are encouraging angels – each of them bringing different qualities to the table – none are able to reconcile my mind like Ma.
The absence of my Mother continues to grow, the pain is not easier to bear, the hole in my heart is un-patchable.
Me: I have decided to be a thespian Mom. Ma: Give it time, not all men are assholes.
Ma: I know you told me not to talk to them until you had a chance to look at the records but I wanted to scare them a little. So I told them you are a lawyer for HIPPA.
Ma: I think I clipped his mirror as I passed him.
Me: Ma, hang up the phone and pull over, you are in a wreck and still driving!
Ma: I think you should have a couple more kids so that if ever you have these issues they will not have such a burden on them individually.
Me: Ma, you realize I have been fixed for almost two decades.
Ma: It’s ok, you can keep trying.
And I wonder how that script would read today:
Me: Ma, I don’t know what to do with my life.
Ma: I always hated that board game, you really should try scattergories.
I miss you Ma. More so every day. Missing you has become such a part of my life that it almost feels like an extra job. I write you notes every morning. They are in a box. Some long, some with just three words and a salutation. Words on paper sent to an angel whose halo is held on with horns.
I love you.
The Final Piece.
Life is complicated. It throws things at us when we least expect it. It throws things at us when we should expect it and yet we ignore the “coming attractions“. Then there are times we beg to have life throw things our way only to find ourselves running out of patience while we wait.
My Mom died. I know, I know – I write about it all the time. It was not like her quality of life was amazing but she was here, with us, offering us the things that we loved (and sometimes hated) most about her views, her experiences, her life. And now she is gone and although I know there have only been a few months between this moment and that day – it still wrecks me at times. I miss her everyday. And when I turn off of Rt 19 and onto Rt 612, on my way home from work, I fight off tears. And I have realized that on my trips home from NYC that is the exact place, the five more minutes and I will be “home”, when I became really excited to see my Mom. It was the place that a little relief washed over me because I was about to step into the “familiar” of my family. And now the absence of that excitement is palpable.
I have visited her grave only twice. Once was forced because I began to feel horrible that I let this utter sadness stand in the way of my paying my respects. It was one of the hardest things for me, the walking down the rows of graves to the place where the grass still sits a little uneven because not enough time has passed to level out the ground. The second time came last week after my Dad stopped to visit and to tell me the gravestone was put in. Amanda and I went to the grave. The stone is beautiful, well as beautiful as gravestones can be as they symbolize the removal of someone precious from your life.
I had this terrible want – I wanted to lay down ON the grave and look up at the sky. What is that? How bizarre am I? It was this…wanting to be as close to her as I possibly could, considering the circumstances. Had Amanda not been with me, I might have just laid right down there on the grave. Could you imagine the poor passerby, seeing me laid out in the cemetery…
Anywho, I took this picture. I felt a little morbid in doing so. But it symbolized something for me. Finality. It is final, this is the last piece of the puzzle, she is gone and not coming back. I felt the piece being put into place, yet it offers no closure.
Many of you asked for a copy of the poem I read at my Mom’s wake….
I am home in Heaven, dear ones;
Oh, so happy and so bright!
There is perfect joy and beauty
In this everlasting light.
All the pain and grief is over,
Every restless tossing passed;
I am now at peace forever,
Safely home in Heaven at last.
Did you wonder I so calmly
Trod the valley of the shade?
Oh! but Jesus’ arm to lean on,
Could I have one doubt or dread?
Then you must not grieve so sorely,
For I love you dearly still;
Try to look beyond earth’s shadows,
Pray to trust our Father’s Will.
There is work still waiting for you,
So you must not idly stand;
Do it now, while life remaineth–
You shall rest in Jesus’ land.
When that work is all completed,
He will gently call you Home;
Oh, the rapture of that meeting,
Oh, the joy to see you come!