In 2010, my mom spent the month of November with us in Memphis. DH and I were looking forward to our move to Washington state the following summer. After that Thanksgiving I drove Mom back to North Carolina, with the promise that with relatively cheap air fare, I would probably see her more frequently than if I continued to live in Memphis.
I had sincerely planned to visit last year, but then my ninja cell diagnosis got in the way. For the past year, I’ve either been in the process of or recovering from the various treatments the medical community has thrown at me. During this summer’s radiation treatments, Mom’s health declined to the point that she needed to be moved to a skilled nursing facility. I hated that I couldn’t be there to support her and my sister, Iris, during this stressful transition. Thankfully, they were understanding and encouraged me to do what was needed to fight my cancer.
Two months ago, I was excited to set a date to visit Mom and Iris. Iris and I conspired to surprise Mom. We decided that I would simply show up to her room. When I told my friends here of our plans, they questioned if that was wise. I was asked “You haven’t seen her in two years, is her heart strong enough?” I’d just wave my hand dismissively and say “Oh, of course. With my hair change and her faltering eyesight, I just hope she recognizes me.”
The morning of the surprise visit, Iris called Mom so she wouldn’t go to the lunchroom ahead of us. “Hi Mom, I’m going to be on your side of town. I thought I would bring some bar-b-que and we could have lunch together.” Iris was so smooth on this call. She even asked Mom what kind of sides she wanted and if she wanted a plate or sandwich. I also must explain that I LOVE North Carolina bar-b-que. It has always been a family tradition that when I come to town, at least one meal is going to be from a local bar-b-que establishment.
We stopped at a local eatery and picked up our lunch. Iris thought the facility’s atrium would be a great place for us to dine together. It was sunny and provided privacy from the other residents and staff. She had me sit with my back to the room’s entry way, so Mom wouldn’t see me right away. I set up the table, while Iris went to get Mom. Mom was wheeled in the room and then put straight across the table from me.
I didn’t say a word, I only smiled at her. At first, Mom’s face had no recognition on it. There was a fleeting thought of how I could introduce myself to my own mom without it being awkward. Then her eyes became enormous, with her hand clutching her heart and her mouth simultaneously dropping wide open. She didn’t breathe for what seemed like the longest time. All I could think was “Oh no, I’ve killed my Mom! BREATHE!!!!!” She finally did take a breath and was fine. We hugged for what seemed forever. Mom was so excited and needless to say, totally surprised. That moment was so perfect and so very sweet.
Today is a good day!