Guest Post by J.O.B – Caregiver Part IVPosted: April 30, 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 awesome. Mom felt like a Wife, a Mother, a Grandmother, and a Sister for the first time in a while. She provided holiday spirits and holiday cheer for her family. It was the most joyous time in the history of the O’Brien/Robertson family. At least what I could remember. After all, as I said, we were all together for the first time. And no matter what pain, discomfort, or fear that my Mother felt. All I can remember is the smile that was constantly upon her face.
But as New Years came, things went back to what became the new normal. Football was over and I was lifting at the gym. Dad and Bill were working their asses off. Julie was back at school. And Debbie was taking Mom to radiation therapy. Our family sort of fell into a routine. But it was about to get a lot more complicated.
I remember coming home one night in early January. It was the first week in school after Christmas break. Mom was in the Living room on her favorite chair. I sat down beside her when she hit we with it. “Could you do me a favor Honey?”, she asked. “Of course Ma, what is it?”, I replied. “Can you get me a pack of Virginia Slim Menthol Lights?”….I told her I couldn’t for obvious reasons, and that’s when I had the worst conversation of my entire life.
“Honey, I just want a cigarette”, she said. “You probably do Ma, but that’s what got us to this point to begin with. And we are still fighting”, I replied. My Mother grabbed my hand and sat me down. “Jon, radiation is over. My last treatment was over a week ago. Unfortunately it did not work, and the cancer has spread to my brain.” she said. “What does that mean?”, I asked. “Honey, we tried hard, but it didn’t work. The Cancer spread. I am so sorry to tell you this, but I am going to die. It’s just a matter of when, but in the time being I just want to live my life the way I want. But I need your help because I can’t drive.”
I couldn’t believe this shit. How could this be so final? How could this happen out of nowhere? I ripped away from her and for the first time since the diagnosis I started openly sobbing. She came up behind me, put her hands on my shoulders, and said, “Honey, I am so sorry, but I don’t want to lie to you.” “But how do you know Ma?”, I replied. “Hon, I was a nurse on the Cancer floor for thirty years. I knew the minute I received the diagnosis. I fought the best I could, but I was too far gone. And now, I just want to enjoy my days.”, she said.
As I ran upstairs to my room I could hear Ma start to whimper. I remember thinking about everything, and going to my bathroom so that I could vomit. I sat in my bed for an hour or so thinking. And then I came to a decision that I regret to this very day. I left the house, and went to the gas station. I purchased a pack of Virginia Slim Menthol Lights. When I got home, I handed them to my Mom. She went into the basement, and I went to my room. This action would come to cause a twenty year gap in the relationship with my Father. But in the end, I was concerned about one thing. Helping my Mother live out her last days in comfort.