I guess we had a rocky start. The story of when I was born was my Mom held me a moment then yelled "Get this off my chest and bring me a coke!" (Something to that effect :-) ) The observing her suicide attempt was where my personality disorder began.
At age 4, anything that happens is something you did. So I now know that I felt responsible at age 4. I developed a fierce loyalty to my Mom, to the point that I fought kids in Middle School who would say things like "Your Momma"...or something degrading, no one knew her, it was general teasing (bullying)
At age 5 1/2 my parents were "saved off the streets" by a communal church. So age 5-10 my only memories were being spanked a lot, my mom would just go ballistic when she did it and eventually recognized that and turned it all over to Dad. My parents were away a lot, meetings, witnessing, etc...at age 10 we moved to Evanston IL, to another communal church, but a really good one, not cult like in the least. Lived there 10-15, then KS.
During that time frame my Mom stabilized and my "Momma's Boy" persona was created. She could do no wrong in my eyes. At about age 12 she sat me down and told me, "Michael, you never get mad at me and I know there are times you are mad, you need to express that (In an appropriate way)" Well...the story of that is she would joke later in life that I started letting her know when I was mad...and it never stopped lol.
My Mother never missed a baseball game of mine, I mean never. She even showed up with my Dad my Freshman year of college to celebrate my birthday and I got to pitch the second game, one of my 2 wins. I could do no wrong in her eyes. She was always proud of me and told me often.
I realize now that must have been hard on my Dad, I know he felt undermined at times, especially with my sister. On my 30th birthday something happened that devastated our family- specific to my mother. That changed me. I loved her as much as I ever had but she became somewhat a shell of her former self (Highly thought of and capable of making a real difference in peoples lives). She never really recovered.
When we all ended up in KS again things got better. Slowly. Would occasionally see joy on her face. Inside she was still struggling.
Here is a timeline of her life
Age 3- Her Mom Dies
All 4 brothers are taken in by family as her Dad goes to Alaska to work on the pipeline, no one takes her in and she is sent to an orphanage
Age 16 she gets her brother thrown out of the house (For good reason) and he dies in prison from a routine appendectomy (He wrote some bad checks is all he did)
Age 17 Her Dad dies
Age 18- Unwed and pregnant with me
She had a lot of tragedy. She was in therapy off and on most of her life. Over time we grew close again.
Sept. 2005 my sister dies unexpectedly. This devastated my parents and I, Ashley (Her pregnant 16 year old), my wife and kids, Lisa's own 3 year old. This time my mother did not recover.
August 2006. During an MRI (She was knocked out by a car door- those of you that know my Mom are probably chuckling) they found an aneurysm. Located in an unusual place, at the base of the frontal lobe. The overwhelming area affected with most frontal lobe "events" occur in the Front. Hers was probably smack dab in the middle of her head. They had to go in (I think) from 2 angles.
We had a consult with the Surgeon, he was flown in from Chicago as no one in KC had done this surgery and he had successfully done it. He explained that the aneurysm was urgent but not emergent. The surgery was scheduled maybe 4-6 weeks later. She said she wanted a second opinion. Dad and I were convinced she should proceed and we said as much, me stronger than my Dad.
She was having seizures during this time. I would sit with her from 8-1 everyday. Over that time our relationship began to re-develop into the love and faith in each other. We talked a lot, some days not as all. She was fairly immobile as this was 10 months after her daughters death. I had some anger towards Lisa so we didn't talk a lot about it.
The "Surgery Prognosis" was like a 1-2% chance of death, maybe up to 10% of a stroke (Maybe lower) Neuro ICU 3 days, In Patient 2 weeks, home good as new, total time estimated 4-6 hours.
It took 14 1/2 hours and she had 2 strokes during the surgery. The aneurysm was clipped so the surgeon called it successful and flew home, leaving us and KU Med Center with no clue what to do. She was in a coma. We simply were not prepared, wasn't in the plan. Dad began realizing she may die and his life would be changed. After maybe 2-3 weeks she was "upgraded" to a "semi-vegetative state" and sent to a nursing home.
I could hardly bring myself to visit her but I did at least 1x a week. That fall I took a really good job and was on the road a lot. In October she was rushed to the hospital and I left Richmond VA to come home. She was still eyes open, no recognition or tracking. I said my good byes
Well she made it and was sent back to the nursing home, I quit my job in Feb and began visiting her more. My dad took Lisa's youngest daughter to spring training in March in Arizona. The day they left, while in the air still, I received a call that my mother was rushed to ER and was dying. I went up and she looked like she was dying, pale, yellowish, an emptiness in her eyes.
I left after 2 hours, said my goodbyes again. I was woken at 5 AM that she had made it through the night but had taken a turn and was dying. I didn't leave right away, had some coffee and a few cigs. Then I went up there.
If she looked bad Thursday evening she now looked to be entering the end stages. I called my father. He said he wasn't coming home, he had settled this day would happen. He asked me to sign a DNR and DNI on her. Hardest thing I have ever done. That day was pure hell. In addition to my Mom, my oldest daughter was flying on PCP and after 2 hours I finally got someone to admit her- or I would have killed her. But this post isn't about her.
They discovered a bad bedsore on her ankle. She had developed sepsis. They wanted to try an aggressive approach, with an expected outcome of her getting better or her dying anyway. I simply couldn't take anymore. I got on my knees and said "God- please take her or cure her, this is more than I can handle" Dad did come home Sunday and she was good enough Monday to go back to the nursing home.
A week after my prayer, she called me from the nursing home. She had "woken up."
So many of our friends think "Wow, what a miracle." We are unable to explain that yes it is...but it comes at a heavy cost. My father can only go out of town by paying someone out of his pocket to stay with Mom. My wife and another lady work every day to cover care. (Me changing my mothers diapers is where I draw the line!)
It can be really difficult sometimes. She no longer has the filter, the one that stops us from saying verbatim what we think. Yeah- not her. She will ask questions until she can find a connection to you. She remembers many of her old friends but no real details. She can be mean, annoying and difficult. Especially on my wife, occasionally saying things like "I wish you had died instead of my own daughter" These things cut my wife to the bone, she has a poor relationship with her own Mom and pre-stroke My mom was the mom she always yearned for and they were close. My mother loved Michele the first time she met her (That continues today, my wife is awesome people always like her) It's also hard and odd that I am the only one my mother is nice too. She still loves me, enjoys my company, my humor.
As I began visiting more in the winter, before she woke up, I would take her over to the aviary to watch the birds. I had my Dad pay for her to get her haircut. She now was following people but not showing any recognition. This time I had with her made what happened in March doubly hard.
Once she woke up I would sit with her (She was discharged home 6 weeks maybe after she woke up) and at that time a popular song was "Long Trip alone" by Dierks Bentley. I would hum and sing this to her. At the end I will post the video and some of the song. I asked her a lot about what she remembered over the last 8 months and it wasn't much. Though she told me the first time that she remembered me being kind to her.
Her being home has been tough on me. I do love her but she isn't capable of having a meaningful relationship- this is the part I don't think her lifelong friends don't get. The pain she has caused my wife, the guilt I feel for pushing her to have the surgery....sometimes its too much.
Now here is the shocker. She is genuinely happy. She does have recollections of bad things but she doesn't appear to be affected, almost like she is reciting something she read. I think I have come to realize that she is a gift from God to us. She is living the end of her life without that emotional pain and baggage and that is a gift from God. I feel like he said "Elizabeth, enjoy this time in your life and rest easy" Almost like respite care.
From the song
So maybe you could walk with me a while
And maybe I could rest beneath your smile
Everybody stumbles sometimes and needs a hand to hold
Cause it's a long trip alone