Ponderings from a Procrastinating Prognosticator

Archive for May, 2012

MOTHER’S DAY – PART ONE

Posted by samatwitch on May 15, 2012

Yesterday was Mother’s Day – at least in North America.  Twenty-five years ago, I was sharing a ‘picnic’ supper of bread, meat, cheese and fresh strawberries with my mother, (step)father, sister and the man she married the following weekend, in the rooftop garden of St. Paul’s Hospital.  It was the last food my mother ate as she didn’t want to eat anything and actually only had very tiny amounts that night to please my sister and me.  My mother had leukemia, acute myelogenous leukemia, to be exact.  As it turns out, the kind of leukemia my father had died from 35 years before was a subset of AML, although there is no way to know for sure if it was the same strain that just lay dormant in my mother for all that time.

When doctors say ‘acute’, they know of which they speak.  It was seven weeks from the day my mother went in the hospital in Duncan and was tentatively diagnosed with a form of chronic leukemia, until she died in St. Paul’s.  I was lucky, I had a little voice that told me it was going to be seven weeks so I sat down and decided on what I needed/wanted to say to her or things I wanted to share, questions I wanted to ask and, most importantly, what needed to be left unsaid and unsolved but let go.

At the time, I was working on an on-call basis and so I was available every day for at least part of the day and for the final four and a half weeks, I slept and mostly lived at the hospital.  The one thing I could do for her was to type (and I mean on an only semi-correcting typewriter) the final draft of the book she had spent the past few years researching and writing about the women who came to the coast of British Columbia as teachers, nurses, missionaries and helpmates to their husbands.  They Also Came is the title and she spent many hours interviewing women or their families about the lives of some of these brave women.  One of her close friends who was included in the book insisted that my mother should also have a chapter as she and Dad plied the waters of the Pacific Northwest on the Thomas Crosby V, the United Church mission boat that visited lighthouses, fishing villages, and isolated people on the coast.

My mother didn’t live to see her book in print but she did know it had gone to the printer.  All the money raised went to the Crosby mission fund to support the ship’s journey up and down the coast.  Right to the end – and beyond – my mother was giving.  She died as she had lived, with dignity and courage and love for her family.

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