PERSONALLY SPEAKING: Mother’s Day takes on new meaning
Mother’s Day has been a national holiday since President Woodrow Wilson signed it into law in 1914. Hard to believe that it has only been in recent history that an official day recognizes the most influential role model in many lives.
I never really appreciated Mother’s Day until I became a mom. I remember the swell of my heart when I first laid eyes on my sweet baby boy, now age 13. I felt that surge of love and emotion again eight years ago with the birth of my second son. The gift of motherhood is the greatest I’ve known.
This year, I have a new appreciation of what Mother’s Day is all about and how lucky I am to be able to celebrate it with my mom. The downward spiral of my mom’s health marred the beginning of 2013. I still remember the day my oldest sister called to tell me that mom was being taken to the emergency room with what was a suspected stroke. I violated several traffic laws on the drive to the hospital, but I was driving with a racing heart and stream of tears.
I met my dad at the ER entrance. He was sobbing and difficult to understand, but I managed to decipher, “She’s so bad.” My dad has always been the emotional one and my mom was always the rock. My two sisters, my dad and I were crammed into a small room with nurses working fervently. Mom’s eyes were rolled back and she was moaning with her legs bent at the knee. We were holding her hands and talking to her, urging her to communicate somehow. After a series of tests, the doctor asked for consent to conduct a spinal tap.
The suspicion of bacterial meningitis was confirmed, which lead to a series of questions about how it could have been contracted. It wasn’t just mom’s health now in question, but all of ours, as well. She was transferred to Blodgett Hospital’s Intensive Care unit where she stayed in a coma, relying on a ventilator to breathe and an IV inserted directly into her jugular for what. The on-call physician needed to consult me on just how serious Mom’s condition was. The drive home was long.
One week after being admitted, my family had a meeting with the entire neurology staff to discuss mom’s condition and prognosis. It was bleak. We were essentially advised to either let mom go or decide to keep her alive in a vegetative state. But we weren’t convinced this was mom’s future. My sister and I insisted that mom reacted to the sound of her grandchildren’s voices and sometimes the simple mention of their names. The greatest ache I felt in my heart was the idea of my children no longer having their grandma.
The day of that devastating meeting, I twice asked mom to turn her head so I could wipe a tear rolling down her cheek. Again, this convinced me she was going to pull through. I waited until the rest of my family left to unleash the dam of tears I had fought for days. Mom had nine bags full of all different kinds of medications and supplements and hydration fluids feeding her IV lines, which were being moved from her neck to a less finicky picc line. When I called the next morning to see how the procedure went, I was told mom had awakened and was responding to commands.
Mom was eventually transferred into another unit within the hospital and then a month later, to a rehabilitation center. Mom finally came home 12 and a half weeks later — weakened, slower and without any hearing. But she is home. It seems Mom will never recover her hearing and she suffered memory loss due to a number of factors — her brain being attacked by bacteria, ravaged by seizures and quieted by potent medications. But she is home.
This Mother’s Day, I will hug my mom a little tighter and remind her just how amazing and appreciated she is.