From the age of 23 to 40, when she died, I had very little to do with my mother. Hopefully you’ve already read enough of my stuff to know why. Even though most of the pain and suffering I had in my life was caused by her, I still felt the need to help her when she needed it.
As you know she was a heavy drinker, smoker, and sometimes drug user. She first contracted lung cancer, and several years later it spread to her brain. My mom couldn’t do much on her own anymore and needed a ride to see her doctor, because of bad headaches. I agreed to take her. They eventually did a scan of her brain and concluded that she had an inoperable malignant brain tumor. Despite what she had put me through in my childhood, I still felt bad for her.
She was living in a senior’s only apartment complex at the time. There were no services available, so I had to spend quite a bit of time with her. Her condition caused her thinking process to deteriorate and didn’t allow her to do a lot of what she was used to. So I did her grocery shopping and bought her items that were simple to prepare. She got worse to the point where I had to deliver her meals, or prepare them for her at her apartment.
One day I went to check in on her and arrived just in time to see her finish cutting up all our family pictures and documents. Another time she cut up some cash she had hidden. The last straw was the time I walked in on her trying to load a pistol to kill herself. I knew that my mom carried a pistol in her purse for much of her life, but I thought she had gotten rid of it. Maybe she was just doing it for effect. It was always almost impossible to read her intent.
One day I tried to call several times without success. I hopped in the car and went to her place. I found her in the bathroom lying on the floor. Apparently she fell down a couple of hours earlier and couldn’t get up or move. I called the paramedics and they took her to the hospital. The emergency room doctor consulted with a surgeon and then told us that cortisone would make the tumor shrink for a while and then she would improve for short periods. They gave her an injection and sure enough her ability to think and move freely improved dramatically. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t last for more than a day. She was admitted to the hospital and I spoke to the social services unit there for some advice. She told me that my mom shouldn’t live by herself, and she most certainly shouldn’t live unassisted. The cortisone would work some, but not for long. They said that the headaches would stop soon as the tumor started to “turn out the lights.” So she wouldn’t suffer.
I searched all around Orange County for a nursing home for her. I must have visited 20 of them. This may sound strange, but I could tell by the way the place smelled if I was going to like it or not. A lot of them smelled terrible. Before my mom could get any help from Medi-Cal to pay for the nursing home I had to come up with a bunch of documents relating to her financial situation and many other things. A month or so earlier my mom had an attorney draw up a “Power of Attorney” document so I could make her decisions for her.
I went to her last job, I talked to social security, and I went through her stuff. I found everything I needed. And something I wish I hadn’t. My mom had a will. I’ve said in my other entries that my mom hated me for some reason; it became very clear that she still felt that way. My mother left me one dollar!
She left every penny and everything she owned to my older brother. My older brother who was in Arizona and didn’t come to help me, or to visit mom until the day she actually died.
I had power of attorney, I could have done something about her will, but I didn’t. If that was the way she felt there wasn’t much I could do about it. I called her current attorney and asked if she had a newer will. He told me that he hadn’t drawn one up for her. The attorney who did draw up her will had died a couple of years earlier and his business was closed. I couldn’t have simply thrown the will away and acted like I never knew it existed. Great time for some payback, but I couldn’t do it.
I got my mom into a nursing home and that is where she died. She was still smoking! She embraced the thing that killed her up until the end.
I thought long and hard about the entire ordeal. What the heck was I doing? I owed her nothing! Was I still waiting for her to pat me on the head and tell me that I was a good boy? I tell myself I did it because it was the right thing to do. But I’m not so sure.
Based on her insistence, she had no funeral, no memorial service, and was cremated. I purchased a niche for her ashes in Westminster Memorial Park. She was placed in her niche in February of 1991. I made sure it was done and that it was where it was supposed to be. I haven’t been back since…