Category: Life


I was at my parents’ house celebrating Memorial Day. I was playing with my son, niece and nephew, teaching them how to walk on their hands. I felt wonderful. I drove home that night with my husband and son. At approximately 1:00 am I had a Grande Mal seizure. I am told that my body was jerking, I was jumping off the bed and I wet myself. Luckily my husband awakened to see what was wrong. He called 911 and changed my clothes. I was transported by ambulance to the hospital. I had another Grande Mal seizure on the way and one more once we got there. They asked my husband if I had taken any drugs like ecstasy. He told them I didn’t take drugs. They did a CT scan which showed I had a brain tumor. My husband told me and I began to cry. Now you have to realize I have no recollection of this night. I was taken then to Carolina Medical Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. My son’s neurosurgeon, Dr. Hefner, met us at the hospital. They did an MRI that confirmed I had a brain tumor. He said he believed it to be an Oligodendroglioma. He said that they would have to operate on my brain to remove it.

My mother was very upset . I am told that every family member was there, but I don’t remember seeing any of them. I do remember my boss, Nancy Schrum, coming to visit me before the surgery, but that is the only person I truly remember. Why I only remember her is a mystery to me.. I had the brain surgery on June 1, 2001. I don’t remember it. My husband tells me I slept allot. I didn’t even know why I was in the hospital. I asked him if a helicopter fell on me! I had a dream that a helicopter fell on me. I never expected I had brain surgery or a brain tumor. I vaguely recall walking around the hospital. My husband says one night I got up to use the bathroom without assistance and fell and hit my head. I have no recollection of that either.

I was released on June 5, 2001. I had to be watched and taken care of for two weeks, doctor’s orders. Well, I am not one for having other people take care of me much less do my housework or take care of my son, especially when I am home. It was very hard for me to let other people do these things for me. I do have to admit that I got tired easily and took naps. Dana, my husband’s sister came for a few days, then my mom and then my husband’s mom. I was so glad when the two weeks were over. Not that I minded the company, that was great. But when they lifted a finger to clean, I felt guilty. Why should I have felt guilty? I shouldn’t have but I did.

I was on two anticonvulsants, Dilantin and Deprokote and steroids for swelling after surgery. On June 14 I had to go back to Dr. Hefner to have the staples removed. And, by the way, I couldn’t get the staples wet so I couldn’t wash my hair without help. Yet another thing that made me feel helpless. Anyway, I went to get my staples out and show him the rash on my face. He had my staples removed and then told me that I was having a reaction from the Dilantin.

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Fear

I’ve never feared the judgement of my peers. Have always been my own person–shy, quiet, but comfortable in my own skin.
My parents’ opinion was the only one that mattered so I made straight A’s in school and was careful not to be caught doing something I shouldn’t.

When a toddler I witnessed my mother using my dad’s razor strap on my older sister’s bottom. Fear of corporal punishment made me a model of good behavior. Growng up and witnessing the death of relatives and friends made me fear the unknown.

Today I fear nothing. I watched my thirty-nine year old baby girl, crippled with a brain tumor, suffering pain I couldn’t imagine, but with a brave smile for all who visited her in her last days. Finally, I witnessed her last breaths as I lay beside her in her hospital bed.

What’s left to fear?

The Ungreen Thumb

I’m a black thumb gardener, but I try. In fact I have a compost heap. It’s a big bucket with a lid that breathes that we bought from the county. I’ve had it two years and it’s just about full. Nothing is decomposing. Everything in it is in its original condition. I guess I need something more than the tool I bought to break up the pile. This too came from the county. What I need is a huge food processor. Or Big Foot.

Zumba

I’ve always loved to dance. Mom was a singer/dancer and if one of the “big bands” came on the radio and you were home, you were dancing. She led. Didn’t matter if it was dad or someone else, she led. You learned to waltz at an early age and to charleston and jitterbug. Sister, Jo Ann listened to country music and we danced to that while doing our Saturday cleaning. My thing was rhythm and blues–Fats Domino, Little Richard, Haley’s Comet. But my husband can’t dance anymore, the kids are gone living their own lives, and the dogs don’t want to learn. Then Lynn, our Curves owner, added Zumba to our gym two times a week. It is so much fun!! You dance a minute and then work on one of the machines a minute. Let me tell you, it is a workout. The group attending is growing. What a sight we must be. Older women in their harem skirts (oh these are scarves with bangles we wear around our middles and shake to the music.) dancing with the young instructor who smiles at us and our whooping. Love it, Love it!!

Missing You

I miss your face, your voice, your laughter. I miss the me in you. Every night when bedtime arrives, I put my knee pillow between my legs, get into a fetal position, give old Button ear cuddles and tummy pats, then perform my memory ritual.

I crawl into your hospital bed, put my cheek to yours, comb your hair with my fingers and tell you: you are my precious baby girl and I love you with all my heart and soul. This is the scenario when I held you the day before you died.

I miss your voice, your laughter, your wonderful sense of humor. I miss your face. I’d do anything, absolutely anything, if I could be with you again. Oh, Mimi.

Mimi

Your beloved voice is gone
your laughter and your hope.
I miss you so,
I’m not sure I can cope.
Your sweet caress,
tight and lingering just
makes it hard to
know you’re gone and adjust.
I see your face
each night at my pillow,
my cheekbones yours,
my sweet willow.
You are gone now,
and if your faith proves true,
it won’t be long
before I’ll be with you.

My Beloved Little Girl

Oh my beloved,
I miss the sound of your voice,
Your strong tight caress,
The kiss on my lips.
I miss your laughter as much
As your smile so bright.
You glowed, my sweet dear.
You are my heart, and I cry.

She’s Gone

She’s gone.
I crawled up into her bed, stroked her hair, whispered in her ear, and ran my cheek across hers. I told her she was my baby girl and I loved her with all my heart and soul.
She mouthed a breathless, “I love you, Mom.”
She’s gone.
Just like that.
A whisper and a breath and done–gone.

The funeral procession lasted what seemed an eternity. So loved, so missed, so irreplaceable, people told us–employers, friends.
The small chapel was overflowing with criers.
My baby girl is gone.

Forgiveness

If cleanliness is next to godliness, forgiveness is the real thing–God-ness. Anguish produces nasty bedfellows–the kind that assault your positive intentions and turn your pain to innuendos. Malice replaces fear of death. Blame is passed around like a snack for anyone hungry for fortification of blind belief.

When accosted with tactics of terrible debasement we must not just consider the source, but also the tragedy faced. “Judge and you shall be judged.” But that isn’t important to me. I don’t judge. I just love hope and care.

The Visit

The drapes pulled shut, the lights out, he’s wheeling her out of the bedroom. The right hand darts behind her chair of its own accord. Her right leg starts to shake; her left foot jerks sideways. She’s strapped into the wheelchair so that her spastic movements don’t plummet her to the floor. She purses her lips, looks at her surroundings and mutters.

“You want something to drink?” he asks her. “Need a pain pill?”
“Uh,” she manages to say.
He brings her ice water and a pill. Her sister jumps up from the sofa with napkin in hand to catch the drips that fall from her mouth.

“Do you want something to eat?”
“Uh,” she answers.
“Popsicle?” he says.
“Uh.”
“Pink or purple?”
“Pink or purple,” she repeats.

He brings her a purple ice on a stick and puts it in her left hand–her left arm is the only limb still functioning.
She sucks half the ice, shows signs of anxiety–he hovers around to catch her every need.
“You ready to go back to bed?”

“Uh,” she answers and he wheels her  back to the bedroom. Sister jumps up again to assist with stiff legs in maneuvering her into bed.

Once settled he walks to the front porch to smoke.