Editor’s Note: It’s been awhile since my last post. I’m really sorry for my extended recluse since February. I think I’ve stayed out a little longer than what I’d intended. Here’s the story behind my absence over the past 3 weeks…
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12-03-2008 will be a date that will forever be etched in my mind. It was a Tuesday. I had left home early to be at the hospital to be with my mother. Remember how I mentioned that she already had 3 setbacks in as many weeks at the hospital in my last post? She had another the following Thursday. One that plunged her into 20 hours of pain.
Like most of her setbacks, my Mother recovered from the setback, somewhat. On Friday, her pain had subsided a little – but only with the help of a considerable increase in dosage of painkillers, and morphine. The doctors came and said she’d never walk again. I rejected that notion of impossibility. I knew of my mom’s fighting spirit. I knew with it, anything’s still possible. I continued to hold on to hope – and I refused to take it from her.
My mother never got to know what the doctor said to me on Friday. Neither did she get to hear what her doctor told me on Saturday.
I returned to the ward early Saturday morning to find my mother speaking to her consultant. Sharing some words of comfort, the doctor told her to take each day as it came, and “we’ll see how it goes”.
He led us out thereafter, and told me straight in the face, “Gary, your mother is dying”.
A year and half with the Toastmasters didn’t prepare me for what was arguable one of the toughest table topic question. What response could one expect from a revelation besides crying? Well, I did just that, unleashing a wave of emotions and helplessnesses before returning to my mother’s side. My eyes were dry and I had to summon everything I had to pretend everything was normal.
A friend had arrived and my mother was speaking to her then. Noting the sympathy that she was receiving from her visitor, my mother declared, “I’ve been receiving lots of support. I will not let everyone down. I will fight till the end!”
Despite being heavily sedated by the increased dosages of painkillers, my mom continued to experience pangs of pain throughout Saturday and Sunday. She was oblivious to her condition for a good part of Saturday, but the increased number of visitors she began having since the doctor’s revelation began to pique her suspicion. Not that I’m overly upset with the number of visitors she had.
By Sunday, mother began drifting in and out of consciousness. And it became apparent that her condition was deteriorating – rapidly. I had never seen her decline so rapidly throughout her stay in hospital. Although she’d managed to keep herself awake and she was able to eat, speak and drink on Saturday, her ability to do so had declined sharply by Sunday night. By evening, she was drinking from a syringe. Still, she held on to hope and she continued fighting.
Monday came. My mother could no longer talk. She could only gasp a few words at a time, and it was audible only when you placed your ears next to her mouth. But her eyes still shone of strength and commanded power and influence over me. I’d suggested skipping a couple of my classes to stay by her side. I felt it’d be a wonderful show of support for her. She gave me that glaring frown that sent be back to school. (Talk about eye contact!)
Then, it was Tuesday. I spent a big part of it at the hospital. By now, mum was spending big part of her time sleeping. Her once powerful voice had dropped to below that of a whisper. By the end of the day, she could no longer eat or drink. Still, she continued fighting.
Her fight came to halt on a dark and cold Wednesday morning. Mum’s body had taken a severe beating over the last week, and her lungs eventually gave way. She stopped breathing at 1230am. She passed away at 0115am.
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It would be natural for everyone and anyone reading this to picture a frail old woman lying on the bed and fighting for her life. You’re wrong.
My mother refused to throw in the towel despite the pain she was going through. She wasn’t the frustrated and whiny little baby who allowed self-pity to get to her. She was conscientiously taking her medications and actively following treatment. She even found time to get to know ALL her neighbours and joke with the hospital staff despite all the gloom surrounding her. It was no surprise how she became a favourite among those attending to patients in her room.
Though her body became weakened gradually, my mother’s spirit remained strong. This was her will – and it’s probably one of the biggest hallmark principles that she’s passed on to her children.
By many accounts, my mother has been an extraordinary person. She’s been a great sister to her 5 siblings and 6 foster siblings. She’s been a great aunt to all her nieces and nephews who will always remember her as a generous giver who seeks to please. In her own words, “she loves children, and she’s happy to see other people happy”. Most importantly, she’s been a great mother to her children. She’s brought up 4 healthy, intelligent and sensible *wink* children. As a trainer and student of personal development – I can see how my mother’s work laid the foundations for us to flourish in life. She deserves credit for all that she’s done.
Therefore, in her memory and honour, I shall be posting 7 lessons that she had taught us over the years on my blog. The lessons learned will cover aspects of love, relationships and personal principles to abide by for anyone who seeks to get results in life. For parents, who knows if this might be a gem that you could all reflect and refer too in future? So…
… to All: I’ll do my best to post one each night, starting on Sunday evening. And;
To my mother who’s now blessing me from heaven: Thank you for giving me a brand new meaning to the word determination and what it means to fight. You were my first mentor in life and probably also the first to realise that I was different right from the start. Thank you for keeping the faith in me and for giving me the space to shine. I will remember your wisdom, your love for children, and your nothing-is-impossible spirit.
You will always remain in my heart, for you are My Pride, My Strength, and my Inspiration.