When I was eight, I had no idea I'd make decisions about my parents.

When I was eight, I had no idea I’d make decisions about my parents.

Sixteen years ago, I received a note from a woman I played tennis with. Her words were very meaningful for me.

She wrote to me because I had said something that touched her. All those years ago, I had told her that I could not imagine losing my mother. At that time, my mother was having a hysterectomy.

At this time, I feel like I’ve finally accepted the fact that life and death are part of a journey. Although I am not certain of the “destination.” I’m aware that it’s not forever. Jason’s journey happened to be “short and sweet.”

I realize how fortunate I was to have had my mother’s love throughout my life for so many years.

I was given this note seventeen years ago. I have not seen the woman who wrote it for fifteen years. Clicking on this makes it larger.

Tonight, my writing is more than just an update. It is about intense satisfaction from living in the moment.

I feel like I’m swimming in a pool of emotion, and intense waves of joy are washing over my heart!

This picture was taken at Thanksgiving this year.

cour·age n

the ability to face danger, difficulty, uncertainty, or pain without being overcome by fear or being deflected from a chosen course of action.

Since my mother had sustained a hip fracture on Thursday night, I was faced with what was a “no win” situation. Being that it was a holiday weekend didn’t help. I had to make an immediate decision to sign consent for her to have surgery – and the sooner the better!

My mother’s surgery was already scheduled. She would be the second surgery on Friday morning, just before New Year’s Eve. The surgeon was respected and highly recommended.

To refuse surgery was simply not an option.

This was what I was told:

I would be condemning my mother to confinement in bed, with constant pain.

Without surgery, she might not even live beyond the weekend. Most patients died within six months.

On Friday, I made the gut-wrenching decision. I’d rather my mother die without enduring the ordeal of surgery. I knew in my gut, she wouldn’t survive it anyway. When she had shoulder surgery last year and she was much stronger, she still had severe, complications. Her two-month ordeal on a respirator was an absolute nightmare.

I have learned to trust my intuition.

Throughout the weekend, the pressure intensified. Numerous medical professionals relentlessly told me that my “radical decision” had condemned my mother to a rapid and painful death.

It’s quite possible that might still be true.

However, while I was hearing that – my mother was comfortable and not in pain.

My decision was simply not based on what would extend her life!

Just like the last time when my mother was ill, the supportive messages poured in. Here were messages from two of my friends:

I just want to tell you that you made the right decision, in my opinion. The worst decision of my entire life was to have my mom have a round of chemotherapy rather than let her die in two weeks. It did no good and put her in absolute hell for the last six weeks of her life. I will always regret that I tried this–except that doctors told me her life could be extended by as much as 18 months and that by then they might have something else to extend it even more. If I had only known the truth!

Sorry you’re going through this. After a small heart attack, my mom had heart surgery because the doctor told me it was a matter of time before she had a major heart attack. Anyway, after three months in and out of the hospital, she kept going downhill and died. I keep thinking, “What if she didn’t have the surgery?” Could she have kept going a couple more years? Her mind was sharp as a tack so it was even more difficult.

7:00 p.m.

I decided my oldest son would accompany me. When she saw her grandson, my mother’s face lit up like a light bulb. I told my mother the news that the hospital was releasing her. She would be returning to her nursing facility shortly.

She cried tears of joy and said, “You made this happen didn’t you? Only my amazing daughter could do this for me! I am happier than I’ve ever been in my entire life to leave this hospital! I feel great and I don’t even have any pain!”

I sat back in the corner of the room and watched my son hold his grandma’s hand. It was so beautiful I could hardly believe it was real.

My mother was nervous when the transport team arrived. She was beaming as she was easily moved onto the gurney. Knowing that my son would accompany her on the ambulance ride had her joyous.

As if this wasn’t enough exhilaration for one evening, I must share more.

The ambulance had just left the hospital. I called my father to see if I could pick him up, but he told me he was already waiting at my mother’s empty bed for her to arrive.

I stopped to get some gas, and arrived at the nursing facility a few minutes later. As I walked down the hallway, I saw my son and father were sitting outside my mother’s room. They told me she was being weighed and examined

My father bent over and clutched me; he openly sobbed.

He exclaimed, “Your mother stood up! She can stand – and she was able to sit!”

I looked at my father – I really was in shock. Of course, I asked him if she was in any pain.

He said she did not have any pain.

Then he said, “Do you think we can go to lunch this Friday at IHOP – just like we do every week?”

I come from a family where denial runs rampant. I answered him with, “I don’t think this week – but maybe next.”

I went into the room to see my mom when she was ready. Her happiness at being in her bed surrounded by love and all the things that comforted her was quite apparent. My father gently put my mother’s watch on her wrist.

She said, “Where did you find this? I’ve been looking all over for it!”

My mother always obsessed about having her purse nearby. This obsession has always bothered my father tremendously. I watched as he surprised her with her purse last night. He said to me, “Even if she doesn’t need it, I know she’ll sleep better having it next to her!”

My son took videos, while my father made a phone call. I absorbed about all I could.

Perhaps my mother will soon be gone. Or maybe she’ll prove everyone wrong, and live another five years.

I have no idea. I only know that tonight was glorious.

Tonight I learned how grateful I could be!

My oldest son created a Facebook site so he could share the videos of him and his grandma. On those videos my mother’s confusion is evident, however her genuine joy and sweetness radiates.

On the last video, she lovingly kisses him and my wonderful son tells her how much he loves her.

© Judy Unger and 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

About Judy

I'm an illustrator by profession. At this juncture in my life, I am pursuing my dream of writing and composing music. Every day of my life is precious!
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