Anything that looks that bad can’t be cured …..

Chrysanthemums for Mum

I woke up the sound of my mobile phone alerting me to a message. “I know it’s early but do you want a lift to see Mum”. Shortly after, my youngest brother arrived to pick me up armed with a big bunch of chrysanthemums. For Mum.

Mum had cancer for eight long years that attacked her spine and hip and then everything else. Shortly after her diagnosis, my brothers and I were invited to a meeting at the hospital where Mum was patient early one December morning. The oncology specialist told us that Mum was very sick and about to croak- as one brother put it. After the bad news, Mum who appeared comatose sitting in a wheelchair with a blanket over herself piped up and said, “I want to live until January”. “Why’s that?” the specialist enquired. “Well I’ve got a grandson graduating from uni in December and two grand-daughters coming home in January after a semester in America’.

So Mum lived. Later that same December, she was given a two-hour hospital leave pass by her specialist to attend the graduation of her first grandchild to get a university qualification. The University reserved the most suitable location in the auditorium for a moribund woman that would cause the least chaos if she’d checked out during the ceremony. The back row in the aisle.

Fortunately, she was in a wheelchair so a seat wasn’t required. She was so sleepy because she was dosed up to the brim on narcotics. That made her little head keep dropping to the side.  As I was seated in the aisle seat next to her it was my job to prop up her head. But with no side vision, this was no mean feat so I’d wait for my brother to give me the command ‘head’.  Mostly she would wake with a startled look and stare vacantly ahead. With pupils the size of fly poo, I wondered if she could actually see anything. The drop and prop situation was going quite well for a while. But as is customary, the awards were being given in alphabetic order and my son’s surname starts with ‘P’. You’ve got it! By the time they got to the letter ‘P’ mum could no longer be roused. Needless to say she missed the moment my son was awarded his testamur.

So we took her back to the hospital within the two hours. Still alive. Just. Goal number one had been achieved to a degree. Pardon the pun.

Mum lived a bit more.  In January the following year, my brother Sam received a phone call from the hospital to go and pick our mother up. Mum was shrivelled up to a quarter the size of her former self, sitting in a wheel chair with her little bald head hanging to the side. She had no teeth because her false teeth were too big for her mouth and she looked at least a hundred years old even though she was only seventy-two. The doctor, with a look of satisfaction on his face said to Sam, “take your mother home. She’s cured”.   Sam was stunned. He never realised anything that looked that bad could be cured.

Two days after Mum’s homecoming there was great excitement because the granddaughters had arrived home from America. Goal number two had been achieved. As she survived dying, she could survive anything and made a few more goals after that.

Mum did croak eventually. We all knew the time had come when she stopped making goals. She lives in a new place now surrounded by a beautiful rose garden and breathtaking views overlooking the river Derwent in Hobart.  Here she has no more illness; no more pain and suffering; no more worries; no more washing up; …. 

Happy Mother’s Day Mum! Enjoy the chrysanthemums



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