The drive to Mom’s house seemed so much longer than the usual 3 hours and 45 minutes. Today it seemed to take an eternity. I tried to busy myself with reading but that didn’t work too well. My mind was constantly racing, thinking about how Mom would react and I was quite nervous. This was NOT my idea of fun. When we turned onto the road to her house, I started feeling panicky; my chest felt heavy and my hands began to tremble. I looked at Dave and told him that I didn’t think I could do this. He responded by saying that it was too late to back out now. I seriously thought about telling him to turn the car around and head home but in my heart I knew it was not a good idea. We pulled into the driveway; I took a big breath, called my sister and told her we were at Mom’s. She said she’d call in about ten minutes.
We were in the kitchen when the phone rang. This became problematic. Mom wears hearing aids if she is in the mood. Of course, she prefers what she calls her “quiet world” over wearing hearing aids. Although she was in fact wearing them, she had a difficult time hearing on the kitchen phone. At first, she was having difficulty figuring out who was calling. When she finally understood it was Carol, she started talking to her but I guess Carol interrupted her and told her that she was “really sick.” Mom couldn’t understand what she was saying . . . she kept saying “what? You’re sick?” over and over again. Finally she said “I can’t understand what you are saying. I’m giving the phone to Bobbi. You’ll have to tell her and she can tell me.” Crap. The plan just went down the toilet. I took the phone from her and Carol and I talked briefly. While we were talking Mom sat down at the table and said to my husband that something was going on with Carol but she wasn’t sure what. He told her. She just sat there. I told Carol that Dave had told Mom. She told me to call her when we got back home to let her know how things went.
I hung up the phone and went over to the table and asked Mom how she was doing. She had tears in her eyes. So did I. She looked up at me and said “Stop that”. It made me think of when my daddy died. She told me the same thing. Back then I thought, “Why can’t I cry? Why won’t you cry? Don’t you have any feelings?” and I was feeling the same way right now. She sat silently for a moment, cleared her throat and said “It’s just not right to lose a child before you die”. A bit later she said “well, this is how she wanted it to be so we just have to accept it” – which really shocked me! She cleared her throat again and asked us to show her the wedding pictures. A bit later she said “I’ve lived a long time on this earth and I know that people live and die, it’s just part of it. I’m gonna be OK. Now, let’s go get some dinner.” It was as if nothing had happened. We went and ate dinner and chatted about everything but the elephant in the room. Nothing else was said the rest of the day. It was quite strange. Just before we went to bed she said “a mother should never outlive her child”. I agreed. With that she got up and went to bed.
I think she must have thought about Carol all night because the next morning Mom asked me how long I had known about all of this. She seemed to think that I had known for a long time but had kept it a secret from her. She was mad at me. Seriously? Why would I keep something like this from her? We talked about it for about ten minutes and then she said she didn’t want to discuss it any more. Ok fine. Denial is not going to change anything but, OK. Dave and I stayed until late afternoon and then had to head back home so I could be back for work the next day. Before we left I told Mom that I was planning to go see Carol and asked her to go with me. She said “I don’t want to go. I want to remember her the way she was when we went on our last trip and remember the fun we had. Do you think Carol will be upset with me if I don’t come see her?” I told her “absolutely not.” A little later she said “and remember; I AM 86 years old. I would be worn out and I just don’t think I need to travel that far.
As we were leaving, mom said something along the lines of “this is sad, sad news”. I guess she isn’t quite as hard hearted as I have always thought. She still never cried which to me seems really odd; of course, this is from a person whose emotions leak from her eyes. Mom is a hard one to read sometimes. I cried off and on all the way home.