It’s been nearly 3 months since my dad died. People say it gets easier, it doesn’t. I miss him more & the thought of going 40 years (or however long I’m here) without hearing him say my name… it hurts too much to think about. Everyone asks how my mom is doing & the truth is… all things considered, she is a real trooper & he would be proud.
She’s been a wife & mother for 45 years, always taking care of someone. During the last year when my dad was sick, she worked overtime — in ADDITION to her full-time job. There were weeks they went to the hospital daily for chemo or radiation treatments, plus the UNplanned trips to the emergency room. She was constantly walking to the pharmacy to pick up prescriptions – sometimes two & three times a day. He couldn’t drive so on days he felt good, she brought him to “the club” so he could play cards with friends. I’m guessing she went to the grocery store four times a week. Dad lost so much weight and this woman made it her personal goal to bulk him up. Before she left for work, she’d leave his breakfast on the table, his lunch in the fridge & when she got home, she’d make his favorite dinners — always finding creative ways to add extra calories & protein, we’re not sure how many sticks of butter she went through each week. If he had a craving for something, that’s what he got. Her attempts were futile, he’d lost his appetite, food didn’t taste the same & even if he did eat – he still lost weight. That’s just part of cancer.
When my dad died, for the first time in her life, she had nobody to take of… that’s where I stepped in. The boyfriend left 5 weeks ago for a work assignment in Europe. I packed my bags (and the dog) and went to stay with mom. I know she’s loved having us & the thought of leaving terrifies me. She says I have to get back to my own life and that she will be fine. I know she will be, but I still worry. She hates when I “mother” her. My parents downsized a few years ago to a townhouse, I never considered the new place “home”, home was our old house that my family lived in for 30 years, the place I grew up; there was a swing-set in the backyard, I had slumber parties there, I went to camp one summer and while I was gone, my mom surprised me by re-decorating my room — gone was the purple paint & little girl stuff, it morphed into a teenager’s room, THAT house was home. Before I got to my mom’s townhouse, she had cleaned one of the guest rooms so I’d have “my room” which is funny, I have a room at her house again, and its strangely comforting.
Our typical day goes like this: when I get up, lunches are already packed, the dog is fed, & the coffee is poured. We kiss goodbye & both head to work. By the time I get home, the house smells amazing! She likes to try new things, the few times I’ve read a magazine & commented that a recipe looked good –BOOM– it’ll be on the table that night. After dinner we walk the dog & chat. We talk a lot about dad, we imagine how he’d respond to the days news, or laugh about how upset he’d be that we replaced an old sofa (he was very set in his ways). This week we dug out his coin collection. Did you know SOME Morgan Silver Dollars are worth $120,000? Most will fetch closer to $20 & that’s what he had, but looking was fun. I can’t even imagine how excited he’d have been if I’d ever said, “hey dad, let’s take a look at your coin collection.” Too late now.
I’ve been out of the house for nearly 20 years, but my mom made sure it still felt like home. It’s drastically different then “home” from when I was young, but so much stayed the same: family pictures scattered around, Red Sox games in the background, my dollhouse is still there–but now my nieces play with it, something always smells delicious, & the fridge is packed. One thing that has changed… instead of mom tucking me into bed, now I tuck her in.