Friday, December 7, 2007

Blogger of The Year.- "As Time Goes By"

Blogger of the Year* by Ronni Bennet.-As Time Goes by
This is the story of my mother's final illness - a time we shared for three months, day in and day out. Although it happened in 1992, it remains the most profound event in my life. I hope it is as uplifting for you as many readers say it has been for them.
In 1991, my mother was found to have cancer. Her right breast was removed and when the nice ladies from a cancer survivors’ group came ‘round with implant information, Mom thanked them and shooed them away. “What do I need breasts for,” she said. “I’m 74, not 24."..........
Sometimes it seems that a thing is not real, does not have shape or size and does not take up space in the world until it has a name. And so it was with Mom’s cancer. Although her energy remained low after her surgery the previous year, she had not been sick. She shopped and cooked and swam and saw friends, continued to build her dollhouses and lived a slower, but normal life. Until she found ......
Having never raised a child nor nursed anyone who suffered from anything more complex than a bad flu, I was ignorant of what 24/7 caregiving entails, particularly over many weeks and months, and I didn't have the wit, as I prepared to move my life from New York City to Sacramento, to imagine much beyond administering pain medicine and holding.......
A family, even one as small as mine, is an intricate web of individual and group dynamics. The complexities are bound up in family history, personal sensibilities, secrets and memories which can be both faulty and true. A family cannot be understood by friends, certainly not by strangers and is often a mystery to family members themselves, though they know in their bones their roles. It is well for outsiders to keep this in mind. By the time my mother was diagnosed......
If I’d had any time to think it over, I would have been surprised at how easily Mom, previously independent to a fault, adapted to helplessness. Once bedridden, she deferred household decisions to me as she slipped effortlessly into an almost regal, though never imperious, manner in making known her personal needs........
Mom owned what I still believe was the world’s longest sofa. The day came when she announced she wanted to move to the living room, and the sofa, she said, would suit her fine as a final resting place, so to speak. The three of us laughed together at her joke, I arranged linens on the sofa and Joe carried Mom from her bedroom.
In the weeks I’d been caring for her, Mom's weight had dropped dramatically. There wasn’t much padding left on her bones and it took only a couple of hours to.......
Without my knowing, Mom had arranged with her best friend, Barbara, to sneak a cake into the apartment and on 7 April 1992, the two of them and Joe surprised me with a party for my 51st birthday. Later that same day, after Barbara had gone home, Mom said she needed to talk with me alone. I couldn’t imagine what she would not want Joe to hear, we’d become such a tight little family, but if that’s what the lady wants. So I sent Joe out to the patio and pulled up a stool next to the sofa. “I want you to help me die,” she said. She told me ...........
From my birthday forward, I woke each morning wondering if that would be the day Mom would repeat her request to me to "help her die." I also wondered if it had been the right thing to require an exhausted, dying woman to voice such an audacious question a second time before I followed through. But there was no one to consult without making the person a potential accomplice to a crime.
The natural end, Mom’s doctor had told me, would come quietly. She would fall into a coma and although her breathing would be ............
In life, our bodies are inviolate by law, exposed only with our consent as when to a physician or a lover. In death, they become public property. Most frequently in the United States, preparation of a body for viewing and cremation or burial is done by strangers at a funeral home without family involvement. It is how our culture helps paper over the reality, the finality, of death.
Sometime after Mom died, Joe carried her body to ......
We had become family, Joe and me. Three months of shared responsibility for Mom's care had made it so, and it was the natural thing to do when he stayed on with me after Mom died. The companionship of this kind and gentle man was a welcome antidote to the sudden vacuum in my days without the focus around whom all household activity had flowed for so long.
Now there were no dentures to clean, no diapers to change, no medical surprises to field. Even my job as research director for an NBC-TV daytime interview program, One of One with John Tesh, came to an abrupt end when the ........
When I left home at age 17 within a week of graduating from high school in 1958, it was unspoken but understood between Mom and me that the move was permanent, that returning home was not an option. Or at least, that’s what I believed and belief, warranted or not, is all that is necessary for some things to be so.
I also believed then that Mom had nothing to teach me, certainly nothing about the .......
On the day we returned to our respective homes, Joe to San Francisco and me to New York, Joe drove me to the Sacramento airport. After four months of getting to know one another in round-the-clock intimacy of caring for a woman we both loved, the ........
------------------------------------------
Thank you Ronni for sharing your story with all of us at E.A.!
- The Staff and Editor of E. A.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

What a lovely thing for you to do, naming me your Blogger of the Year. Thank you so much, Ray.

Best,
Ronni

Marsha Kline, N.Y. said...

Dear Ronni,

I can't tell you how I felt when I read your account of your mother and how you took such good care of her. I hope others with similar problems will take a lesson from your expierience!

And great thanks to E.A. for posting your story and bringing to light what so many families are going through.

Marsha Kline, New York City, N.Y.