Guest Post by J.O.B – Caregiver Part IIIPosted: April 15, 2014
Please see “Guest Post by J.O.B. – Caregiver Part I” if you need to catch up or need the link to J.O.B.’s blog.
Christmas was coming. My Uncle Chuck and Aunt Cindy (Mom’s Brother & Sister-in-law) were coming for the holidays. Mom still had her days. Sometimes she was perfectly fine. Goofing around. No fever. No nausea. Other days were bad. Consistent vomiting followed by tears. Sometimes she just laid on the couch moaning in pain. That was most days. At the time, I had no idea what radiology took out of a person. No one did. There was no computer. There was no Web MD. It was a guessing game. And my Mother and I lost most of those games
But Christmas was coming and that was all that mattered to Mom. She was definitely a Winter person. She loved the cold. She loved the snow even more. I remember having to do my homework in the Dining room so that she could look out the window. As a Family, we were all preparing. I remember my Mother saying, “We have to find someone to make the desserts, because Dinner is mine”. I remember decorating the house with her. I remember shopping for all the baked goods with her. I distinctly remember driving her which pissed her off something fierce. During the second week of December, the good state of Illinois decided to revoke my Mother’s driving privileges. Her anger quickly shifted to helplessness. A very independent woman who was no longer allowed to drive. It had something to do with the amount of radiation she was receiving, and driving seemed to be her last bastion of independence.
As Christmas drew near, she was a defeated shell of her former self. However she was determined to make this the best Christmas ever. And she succeeded. No matter what was going on with her and her life, she was not about to let cancer take this holiday from her. Three days before Christmas, my Aunt, Uncle, and cousins arrived.
Our house was full, and I remember numerous smiles on Mom’s face. Since I was on Winter break I was designated to help Mom with just about all preparations. After taking Mom shopping the day before Christmas Eve, we sat up that night playing cards. Out of nowhere she began to weep. I asked her, “What’s wrong?”. To which she replied, “Honey, I am so sorry, but with everything going on, I forgot to ask you what you wanted for Christmas”. After some quick thought, I told her, “Dad asked me and I think he’s taking care of it”. Of course this wasn’t true. After all, Dad had been working sixteen hours a day so that he could pay for the medical bills, but Mom didn’t need to know that.
We played cards for a while longer, and then she decided to go to bed. At this point of her life, I was helping her to bed which I could tell, killed her. After Mom was in bed I went upstairs and just laid in my bed. I couldn’t make too much noise because my cousin’s were sleeping in the room next to me. I laid there for a couple of hours waiting for my Father to come home. I remember just laying in silence waiting to hear his truck. I heard his truck come up the driveway around 2:00. I gently made my way down the stairs. I was careful to not wake my Aunt and Uncle who were in the guest room directly under the stairs. I hurried to the back porch to meet him. As he walked up he saw me, “What’s wrong!”, he asked. “SHHHHHHH”, I said. “Is Mom okay?”, he asked. “She’s fine”, I said.
“You have to get me a present this year”, I said. “Of Course we’ll get you a gift Jonathon, you don’t need to worry about that”, he replied. “You have to get it Dad. Ma is too worried about having everything ready for Christmas. She felt bad that she couldn’t buy me a gift”, I said. “I’ll take care of it Buddy. You just get to bed”, he replied.
Come Christmas Day, Mom was in high spirits. She was preparing the whole meal. She refused to let anyone prepare this Diner other than her. She did however let Aunt Cindy make the red velvet cake and pecan pie, which she did wonderfully. To be honest, as sick as Mom was, this was the best holiday ever. So much family filled our small Cape Cod, it was unreal. And I especially remember Ma being in the highest of spirits. It is a Christmas that will forever be in my memory. It was the only Christmas in my life that all living O’Brien’s and all living Robertson’s were together in one house.
Uncle Chuck, Aunt Cindy, Brad, and Todd left for home (Kentucky) on New Years Eve. I remember playing Monopoly with Mom that night while Dad and Bill worked. Mom was in high spirits that night, but she was still throwing up. And quite violently I might add. But other than that, she didn’t seem to be in much pain or discomfort. We talked about the new year. Mostly, she talked. After all, her baby was going to be turning seventeen and she was super excited. I could not have ever imagined how dark the year would start out………………………