My Mom’s nickname for me was Trisha. Tuesday was the one year anniversary of my Mom’s death from gastrointestinal cancer. As I’m sure you can imagine, yesterday was not a very good day for me. I held my cool through work, even if I felt like screaming at every little whiny asshole bitching at me that they hadn’t gotten a callback for their broken machinery in three days. (Stop breaking your shit and you won’t have that problem.) My Mom was only 65 years old when she died. She actually had her 65th birthday while slowly dying in hospice care at home.
My Mom’s was never a healthy woman. She’d had problems since I was a little kid. Most times she’d make plans and then had to cancel them when her stomach would act up. She saw doctors and took medicine for IBS and Ulcerative Colitis and a whole host of other things. Certain foods sent her running to the bathroom. She’d get up two hours before she’d have to leave for work just to sit on the toilet. I have to wonder how long the cancer had been growing inside her, waiting. She had a hysterectomy when I was about 10 years old. She started bleeding like she was having her menstrual cycle and just didn’t stop. Mom was on the cusp of her 40’s and already had two kids, so the doctors gave her the hysterectomy with little trouble. She had a hernia surgery when I was in my teens.
It was actually the mesh from the hernia surgery they thought was the problem when the pain in my Mom’s stomach got so bad she went to the ER. They went in to repair what they thought was a twisted mesh. They found cancer. They ended up removing most of her intestines and portions of her colon, if I remember correctly. When she woke up, they told her what they had found and that it was stage 4. She refused medical treatment after that. I think by that point, the years of pain and ill health were just too much for her. I still get angry sometimes that she didn’t try to fight but I understand. Treatment would have been hard and would have only prolonged her life a little. That’s no way to live.
We took her home. My Dad took leave from work and spent most days with her. I’d stop by in the evenings after work so my Dad could get some uninterrupted sleep. My brother took weekends. We all knew that Mom had made the decision to die on her own terms but it was not easy to watch. For the first half it was merely embarrassing and awkward. She was still healing from surgery and was confined to the electric medical bed at home. My Dad had to prepare her meals and change her bedpan and empty her urine bag. It was messy and we all hated it, especially my Mom. For the second half, she started to fade and her mind was going. She’d get confused and then scared. She’d call for my Dad when he was standing right next to her. She’d mix up the male members of our family. Thank all the gods I’m the only female in our immediate family. I could tell it broke my Dad’s heart when she’d mistake him for her brother, my uncle. She’d call my brother our Dad’s name. There was no dignity in the way my Mom died. It took two months for her to finally slip away.
I was actually driving to work in the morning when my brother called asking me where I was. He asked if I had time to stop by the house, the nurse wanted to talk to us about something. Turns out he just didn’t want to tell me that Mom had died a little while before while I was driving. And that was it. The hospice nurse pronounced her dead and the cornier collected the body. They didn’t come take the empty bed until the next day. I hate the medical company for that; leaving the bed my Mom died in sitting in our home. When it became obvious that they weren’t coming to get the bed that day, we tried to get my Dad to spend the night at my brother’s house or at least go to a hotel. But he’s a stubborn so and so and refused. He slept in the empty house with that damn bed.
Why am I telling you all this? If anybody is bothering to read this, that is. This is massive overshare if there ever was one. Well, I’m sharing because she existed, damn it. My Mom worked in an insurance office and pushed paper around all day. She was an ok cook and her house was messy and she had wrinkles and gray hairs and lived in a typical suburb and she was stubborn and sarcastic and she fucking lived. She called me Trisha. She was the only one who called me Trisha.
My mom’s name was Phyllis Ann Hull. We share a middle name. Most would consider her unremarkable. She left no grand legacy. Just a daughter she called Trisha. Who, unfortunately for you, has a computer and internet access and a blog she mostly ignores.
I miss you, Mom.