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Saturday, October 16, 2010

In Which I Ponder Mortality

Okay, so we had a scare this week involving my beloved Mum, Big Mar. She called me Monday in a panic, unable to breath.

There was no answer at her doctor's office--What. The. Hell?!-- so I opted for one of the new Medi-Fast walk-in clinics. I've had great success with these stand-alone medical facilities in the past and have been very pleased with their speed of service. These places are fabulous. They have X-rays, blood drawers and lab specialists on site to make diagnoses quick and painless. You can usually get in and out of there in about an hour.

Urgency dictated I bypass my usual Medi-Fast for one closer to Big Mar's house. What's the difference. They're all the same, right?


This particular clinic was ghetto. Oh it looked clean enough, but the place gave off a weird vibe and was jammed with ne'er-do-wells. We waited for about 45 minutes to get into a room, then when the doctor finally stopped by he stood as far away from my Mom as humanly possible while checking her lungs. I'm not kidding. I swear if he had Inspector Gadget Go-Go-Gadget Arms and a 20 foot stethoscope, he would have stood at the nurses station to do the exam.

Dude, if you're that freaked out by sick people, chances are you've chosen the wrong career.

Here's the best part, after waiting for another 25 minutes to get an   X-ray, Dr. Germaphobe pops his head in to tell us "oh, yeah...the      X-ray machine is broken, but you probably have pneumonia. You'll have to go to the hospital."


I looked at my poor, sick Mom struggling to inhale her breathing treatment and a tear rolled down my cheek. She looked so pale and frail and worn out. She's 89 years old, but she's still feisty, fun and full of life. Sitting there hunched over, she looked so weak and helpless. Right then the inevitability of her mortality hit me. I got up, sat next to her and hugged her to me, my tears streaming, wetting her hair as she leaned her head into the crook of my neck. 
I realized two things right then:

1) I'm not ready to say goodbye to her. Not yet. I don't know if I'll ever be ready, but definitely not now. I need her to be here for at least a few more years.
And 2) I feel completely ill-equipped to care for her properly.

I don't have kids. I'm the youngest of five. I don't know how to take care of myself let alone someone else, and yet somehow the tables had turned. I am now the "parent." I have no earthly idea what I'm doing, but I know I can't do this alone.

The second guessing going on in my brain was deafening. What could I have done better? Should I have taken her to see the doctor sooner? Should I have insisted she move in with me? God she would HATE that. She's too independent to ever accept moving in with any of us.

Fortunately my sister, Toni showed up at the hospital to endure the eight hour ordeal with us. I was so relieved to see her smiling face. I immediately felt the burden lift. She and I are the emotional ones in the family, but she has a very calming presence to both me and Big Mar. She's a doer, not a ponderer like me. Between the two of us, we're able to make a sound decision.

I'm happy to say me Mum is on the mend. She's still in the hospital, but the steroids and other meds are working wonders. She's back to her vivacious, effervescent self. I tease her that she'll be able to bench press 300lbs by the time she gets sprung. She's a tough old bird, and I love her with all my heart.

This scare with Big Mar (hey, that rhymes) has got me thinking about my own mortality. Geo and I don't have children so really, how much does our passing matter. My demise will be a mere blip in the Matrix. It's through one's children that one's impact in life is measured. Besides Geo, who's going to miss me anyway. Seriously.

And no, this is not a cheesy ploy to get all two of you to chime in with pronouncements to validate my existence. Although all testaments to my greatness will be gladly accepted, noted and listed according to level of adoration. 

I kid.

Okay, maybe only a little. Testament of one's importance on this crazy blue planet is essential to placating the fragile human ego. Validation. Affirmation. Confirmation of one's worth... Isn't that why people take to the stage, pen songs and write bloggity blog blogs? Aren't they all means to the same end? Just ways for someone to stand up and scream, "Hey look at me World! I matter!" We all want to believe our absence will leave a permanent gap in the Cosmos. Maybe people don't fear the physical act of death so much as the fading away from the human conscious.

Pondering my own mortality, I have to admit I've had a pretty good life so far. I have no regrets. Geo and I have experienced amazing things in our travels both here and abroad. I have friends and family who have enriched my life in ways too numerous to count. I've known the gift of being loved unconditionally as well as the unmitigated joy of loving to the fullest extent of my heart.

I guess what I'm trying to say is if it all suddenly went dark tomorrow and my spirit was freed from this mortal coil... I'd be okay with it.

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