She will be passing any day now.
Since April she has refused anymore treatments.
Signed off on not resuscitating.
This is the fourth day she has not eaten any food.
She says she doesn't feel like eating.
Her stomach doesn't want food.
She is skin and bones and big bloated stomach.
On the plus side she is not in any pain or discomfort, just weak.

It started last November, she was having trouble breathing.
She had fluid in one lung.
A form of breast cancer.
They would stick a long needle in to drain out fluid.
Eventually fluid would accumulate also in her stomach.
This was repeated.
Pulling several liters each time.

Chemo A, failed
Chemo B, failed
Back in hospital in March because she would throw everything up
Now was too weak to drain fluid.
No food for a week and she bounced back.
Fluid left and was able to eat.
Then they offered another chemo and she said "No more."
It would now be a countdown.

She is the strongest woman I know.
Her mom, my grandma, lived to 98.
I remember seeing my grandma pick up one of those old bathtubs alone.
My mom has that strength too.
When I see her I try to maintain my composure. When I think I'm going to break
I get near her and its not so bad. Like her strength carries me.
She shouts orders to my dad all day.
My poor dad has really stepped up and serves her every wish,
following her overly detailed requests.
If she hadn't moved the bed into the living room, and laid around all day,
you wouldn't know she was dieing.
Even today her voice is still strong.
She told me that some people would always think she was mad because of her strong tone.

Most of my days I am sad and in tears.
I have seen this coming.
Have made peace with it, to some degree.
She didn't want my alternative medicines, ever.
I know I need to respect her wishes.
But its still hard.
If I get out at night, I can be normal.
Its like a routine among my peeps and beats.
When I go to work, I should get an Academy Award for the acting I do in there.
The mornings are the hardest.
I don't know if my father is going to call me and tell me...
I don't know if I'm going to call and hear...
So driving to work is rough til I make that call and even then its hard to hear, its another day of waiting.
I don't know if I will get that call during class and wonder if I will just walk out.
What would I say? Who would I tell?
I've been driving up instead of taking the train because if I need to leave I don't want ask anyone for a ride.

my mom introduced me to this song when I was 3 or 4, its the earliest song I remember

Today she asked me to call the priests for her last rites.
They came within the hour. Nice guys.
She cracked a little bit and we both shared a moment.
I asked if she wants to see her brothers and sister and she said NO.
According to her they are in almost as bad shape as she is.
One is fighting a losing battle sliding into Alzheimer's. Another can't stand for too long because his legs and shoulders hurt from carrying his now deceased wife up and down several flights of stairs of their hillside El Sereno home. She died of a bad case of diabetes. Her other brother is just tired, he lost his wife 4 months ago.
She doesn't want anything.
She wants to be cremated and that is all.
No memorial, nada.
I don't think it's fair, but I need to grant her final wishes, even after her passing.
I will most likely take her ashes to where she was most happy, her childhood home in Chavez Ravine. Well the home is not there anymore, but the hills are still there.

I want to thank my friends who have knowingly or not been good distractions for me.
My students who keep my mind flying to places to take them and show them how many paths this life can offer. My co-workers who are understanding about my mood swings, care for me, entertain me, feed me and are just great people. My inipe brothers and sisters, Wolf and Lisa thank you for praying with me and having that space for all our relations.

This is all passing.
We are all just passing.
See you on the other side, someday.
I love you mommy.

(love and blessings to the Rodriguez family who is also saying bye to their Papachus, lo siento mucho)


Anonymous said...

From don quixote

Beautiful poetry for you Mom from you Pachuco,
a couple of weeks ago we celebrated my Mother's 80th birthday. She's still strong but I can see age in her now. Her Husband Ed also turned 80 the same week, he isn't doing so well, the once athletic handsome Chicano is now all gray and skinny and due to diabetes, walks very shaky and can't see very well, he's fading.
I remember my Abuela who was like a mother to me, a saint, telling me on the day she turned 60 that she couldn't believe it. Now I've passed the mark myself.
First it was the generation of my great grandparents that I recall passing, then my Grandparents generation, they and all the Tio's and Tia's and Primos that would all get together for giant family picnics when I was a kid, all gone now.
Now it's my parents and their generation that are all passing from the scene. Pretty soon it will be my generations turn.
But I still remember all those relatives and friends who have passed on.
It's said that nobody really ever dies as long as someone remembers them in their hearts. All those people are still alive then and will be as long as I'm alive.

And I'm with your Mom as far as where she wants her ash's spread. I used to think that I would like my ashes tossed in a place like Yosemite, The Grand Canyon, off the coast of Catalina Island, but now I know the only places I would be at peace would be in the hills of Elysian Park or the hills of Lincoln Hts above Happy Valley near Flat top, where I spent so many happy days flying kites or sliding down the hills in Summertime on those pieces of cardboard, and the smells of the grass after a rain or the view of the city at night from Elysian Park or up on Thomas St.
God Bless your Mom and you Pachuco.

Sometimes a song can say it all better.


Anonymous said...

G, I know there are no words I can say to make this any easier. It's the hardest thing to see a loved one, especially if its your Mom, deteriorating and preparing for the other side. You don't want them to leave, but then again you don't want them to continue suffering.

I had the privelege to meet your Mom, spend time with her, have talks with her, and I see the strength that you described here. She is a wonderful woman, who raised a wonderful man.

All I can say is treasure these moments with her. As I hugged and held Papachus' hand, I could feel his warmth and his love...its something that I will never ever forget. My memories of him when he was not so ill would rush into my mind, and I know that these memories will always be with me. My Papachus passed early this morning, but I know now he is in a better place. Now he is within me, always and forever.

"Memory is a way of holding on to the things you love, the things you are, and the things you never want to loose."

I want to thank you too for being there for me, for being my angel in times of need and comfort. You don't know how much it means to me.

Recuerda, que yo tambien estoy aqui para ti, y siempre estare aqui. Eres mucho para mi, pero mas que nada sos unos de mis mejores amigos. Te aprecio mucho, y aprecio tu familia.

Your Mom will continue to be in my prayers....

With a lot of love, Yany (tu Yanini)