My mom died two years ago at the age of 94 1/2. Recently, while stressing out over tests for breast cancer, I have been thinking of how Mom comported herself as she too was tested, poked and prodded in her last years. Believe me it wasn’t pretty.
This is what I remember about Mom:
Every six weeks she'd get a shot in the eye for macular degeneration without complaining once and smiling the whole time. When she was wheeled back to the operating room to have her pacemaker replaced, my sister texted that it was like she was going to a party; she and the surgeon were singing and laughing all the way to the operating room. Another time I had to take her for a chest X-ray on one floor, walk her to another wing to draw blood, undress her in a freezing room and all she was worried about was getting home for her Thursday night cocktail party with her neighbors.
She loved to knit hats for her doctors. Once when she had about ten doctors hovering over her my friend chirped, "that’s a lot of hats to knit!" She just seemed to take it all in stride and with a smile. One of the last times I saw her we were testing her blood and I was pricking her finger but the damn machine was not working. I must have pricked her finger and drawn blood ten times and we just laughed at how ridiculous the whole nonsense was.
So two weeks ago, channeling mom as I waited for the MRI, I hummed and quietly sang in the waiting room. When they took me back for the test I joked and chatted with the nurse. And as they injected the contrast that I was sure was going to kill me I said, "hmm, not bad, when can we do this again ?" All with a smile. Oh, and when my doctor called me, two weeks after my test to say all is well, I smiled and thanked him for the call. I didn’t yell at him as a friend suggested I do for taking two weeks to get back to me. Mom would never do that. She’d invite him over for a cocktail to share in the good news . . . and knit him a hat.
Thank you mom for aging with grace and style. Remembering your smile and strength through adversity will only help me navigate rough waters for years to come.
Cathy Love is 60 and lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and their son. She and her husband are happily retired.
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