If you read my post last week about my mother’s desk, this is the second part of that memory. Read it here My Mother’s Desk, if you haven’t yet, and you may want a tissue for this one.
I am sharing these memories of life with my mother during Colon Cancer Awareness Month, because I want people to start talking about the importance of screening and early detection for the second largest cancer killer in the US.
Colon Cancer affects both men and women of all races and ages. In fact, the fastest growing number of people diagnosed are under the age of 50. Please open a dialogue with your loved ones. It could save a life.
The colors are the same. Rich, burgundy walls envelope me, their deep color adding to the silence of the room as the sky darkens. It feels safer in the daylight, the sun sparkling through the skylights warming the room with a loving glow. My mother’s needlepoint surrounds me, from the pieces framed on the walls, to the pillows tossed on the chairs. The same chairs from her bedroom in Beverly Hills. Still plush and inviting. Another piece of her handiwork is the throw rug next to the bed. The hospital bed is an intruder in this cozy enclave. It’s sterile-ness is out of place. Even the vibrant bedding I put on it, can’t camouflage its reality. This whole scene is wrong.
I stroke the desk like a genie’s lamp. The desk is here. Sitting next to my mother’s bed as it did in our California house. Never far from her reach, even though now she can barely get out of bed. It still holds the place of honor in front of floor to ceiling sliding glass doors that overlook the meadow and fast moving river.
I used to think that my mother would decide, on her own, when her time was done, and she would lie down, close her eyes, and go. But, reality is far from that scenario, and here, I sit, in this chair, as she lies in that bed, three thousand miles from the Spanish style house of my childhoood. Both of us, older, are now mothers and soon, I too, will be an orphan.
In this house, her bedroom furniture faces a breathtaking country view and we spend most of our days watching TV, the game show network and classic movies, our go to channels. Before her speech was gone, she would help the many detectives on the mystery channel solve their crimes. And, we would laugh. The two of us, holding on to every precious moment. Finding the humor in everything. One of the greatest gifts she gave me. She was funny. Even in her final days. I was propping up her pillows one day and helping her get comfortable. “Is this good?”, I must have screamed, “Do you want another pillow?” “I’m dying , I’m not deaf” she responded, not taking a beat. Laughter and love, still, to the end.
She wants the heavy velvet curtains to remain open, soaking up the beauty of the outdoors as winter sets in and snow muffles the sounds of nature as the intense fabrics in this room help keep our thoughts trapped inside.
A steep wooden staircase, no metal or spiral in this room, leads up to a cozy skylit loft my mother’s office now occupies, still unused be her. The desk always closer. A balcony outside the glass doors, floats high above the now covered pool. I think it’s funny that in California we didn’t need to open and close the pool with the seasons. So much in my life has changed.
This bedroom suite is not a magical playground, although the costumes and eyelashes are still within reach. My role here is obvious, albeit still supporting. Only now I must give her physical support, helping her sit, stand, even eat. She still laughs at my jokes and the pride in her eyes is undeniable, but most of her speech has been lost, replaced with heart piercing sounds of moaning and whining.
When she does talk, most of it makes no sense, her body a mere skeleton of its former self. It has been an incredibly sad transition that began November 24th with a routine checkup at the oncologist’s office that led directly to the emergency room. My son, Jason’s 18th birthday, Thanksgiving and my birthday spent in the hospital, finally being sent home December 11th to begin hospice care.
The Christmas tree I set up next to the desk, is weighed down with all the ornaments I could find, many from fans, hoping the holiday spirit will never fade and I keep it twinkling even in the sunlight. It is now Christmas Eve.
How ironic that my mother is dying at the time of year when so many people around the world hear her voice singing “Santa Baby” as they shop for their gifts and celebrate with their families.
I guess she did have some input as to when she would leave this earth and she made damn sure there would be reason to remember, forever.
Remember. Treasure. Love… simply Eartha.