I said I would post my Narrative Descriptive Essay a long time ago. But I never got around to it. I’ve done a lot of editing and re-writing and having good ol’ Dad read over it a million and one times. I’m finally done. So here it is. Let me know if you see any mistakes or if something is unclear, etc. But do it before Sunday evening. I have to turn this in Monday morning.
Oh, it is long, but I think it’s worth the read!
The Last Twenty-Four Hours
“Lydia. Your mom fell and I’m taking her to the hospital.” I had been on the receiving end of this type of phone call many times, but my Dad’s voice sounded different and I felt a shiver of fear.
“Okay. Do I need to call Bethany?”
“No, not right now. Let me get her to the hospital and see what’s wrong. Send Caleb home.”
We ended the conversation shortly after that and I began to pray nonstop. Something was very wrong. I went to look for my eighteen year old brother at our church’s yearly “Hallelujah Festival”. The day and my thoughts had been clear and sunny until now.
For as much as possible my parents tried to make sure life was as normal as it could be for my siblings and I. That was a hard task with a Mom that had spent the last six years in and out of the hospital with cancer. Normal was what we were trying to achieve that morning as we gave Mom a hug and told her goodbye as she laid in her bed too sick to go to the festival. My mind was racing with what should be done; should I tell my siblings or just let them go about their day enjoying it as much as possible?
“Caleb, something is wrong with Mom and Dad needs you at home right now.” His face instantly changed from happy-go-lucky to worry and dread. We knew better than to ask questions and he left at once.
I turned to find my siblings because my parents had always been very honest with us concerning Mom’s health and I wasn’t going to let this time be any different. I remember the wind blowing and the smell of pine as I walked slowly to gather my younger siblings. It was a beautiful Saturday that would be forever seared in my mind as painful and the start of the worst twenty-four hours of my life.
I was fourteen when my Mom, at the age of forty-one, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. My older sister Bethany and I took over running the house at that time because Mom couldn’t do it and Dad had to work to support us. In the years that followed the housework, cooking and even caring for Mom became easier as I grew used to it. But sometimes round the clock care of Mom and making sure my younger siblings had clean clothes, food on the table, schoolwork completed, and chores worked on was too much. During those years I came to heavily depend on hour or longer walks to clear my mind, refresh my soul and renew my strength to finish the day.
Life became much harder when Bethany finally made it to college. I was eighteen; working at a pharmacy as a cashier and then going home to help with cooking, cleaning and siblings. That was a good year for Mom and she didn’t require much care other than driving her to and from chemo.
We moved a year later and life took another nose-dive. Four months after we moved Mom developed a brain tumor. Emergency surgery produced another scary phone call, and a fast and furious drive to the hospital. When she came home, she couldn’t see well enough to read; she couldn’t do most anything by herself. I quit my job and came home fulltime to take care of my family. I thought at that point life couldn’t get any worse and that I couldn’t take on any more. I was so wrong.
After telling my siblings and talking with our pastor, Brother Freddie, I just wandered around in a daze trying to make sense of what was happening. Brother Freddie told me that Mom had fallen and hit her head on or near the fireplace. I called Bethany but told her not to come home yet.
I don’t remember if I was at home or still at the church when Dad called to tell me to gather the kids and bring them to the hospital so they could see Mom. But I do remember Caleb had come to wherever we were and he was in a frenzy because of Mom’s behavior. He wouldn’t stop wailing. I was trying comfort him and make sure my other siblings didn’t start to freak out on me as well.
“She didn’t remember me! She doesn’t know who I am! She didn’t know my name! She asked me who I was!” He kept crying over and over like a broken record player. We drove in awkward silence to the hospital with his whimpers haunting our imaginations. We walked into the emergency room lobby and it felt like half of our church was there. Someone told the hospital staff we were related to Sybol Allen and without delay we were ushered through a huge off-white door into a spotless hallway. Nurses were dashing about like I’d never seen. We walked into an icy room and there was my Dad sitting next to a person that looked sort of like my Mom. He was holding her hand. His eyes were red from tears. I looked at him and then at my beautiful Mom. Her eyes were closed so I couldn’t see the blue color that was just like my own. Her skin was pale and bruised; her freckles making it even worse. She was still like death had already come. I felt tears swell up in my eyes, but somehow I held them at bay. This lifeless, pale creature was not my mother. My mother always had a smile; always looked like she was going to take over the world; and no matter what was going on she would always take your hand and tell you everything was going to be okay. This person’s face didn’t light up as we walked through the door as though we were the life of her world; this person didn’t stretch out loving arms for a hug even if we’d seen her five minutes ago; this person was not my Mom, I thought. It looks like her, but it’s not her.
“You can talk to her.” I looked up from staring at my Mom to see a doctor had come into the room, his white lab coat was about the same color of my mom‘s skin and it gave me a headache. He began to talk to my Dad about taking her off some medicine to see what exactly was going on; something about pain meds and maybe it really wasn’t her head. The next thing I know that small hospital room began shrinking in size as my Mom started thrashing with seizures, her arms flailing about, and her body jerking out of control. Then she began screaming as though the devil himself was chasing her. My eyes widened in fear. I whipped my head around to look at my Dad and I told him I was leaving. This was it I whispered to myself as I ran from the room.
I tried holding back tears to be strong for my siblings but I’d never seen anything like that before and I was more than scared. They were balling and I couldn’t do anything to soften what was going on. I was beyond helpless.
The next thing I remember is pumping gas and telling my siblings as we prepared to travel to Albany, Georgia, that no matter what happens God was in control. It seemed to comfort them as I began to drive the hour and a half to Phoebe Putney Hospital where Mom’s doctor practiced but I felt little peace. I was beginning to think that maybe unlike the past six years, maybe she wouldn’t beat this, maybe she wouldn’t come home. I kept these thoughts to myself and tried not to cry.
The eight of us kids stayed awake in the waiting room all night long. We knew at this point that we were just waiting for her to die. That night wasn’t as painful. I’m not sure why, but it wasn’t. Maybe it was because we were all together. Bethany had come at some point during the night and we were all enjoying each other and probably trying to block out what was coming.
The next morning, people from all over South Georgia began to show up at the hospital. People from our church, friends from home school groups, friends from other towns and old churches. It was comforting, but yet weird that we were all waiting in this hospital lobby for my Mom to die. I just tried to ignore these overwhelming feelings and pretend I was okay not only for my siblings, but for the people who were more distraught than I. I remember people trying to comfort me, but I would end up comforting them.
“Mom just loved you; she would appreciate you being here.”, “You brought such joy to my Mom. Thanks for being such a great friend to her” or explaining what had happened. And then when all had fallen silent, the stares began. Eyes that held dread, fear, wonder at what would happen to us, sadness and pain bore holes into us or wall nearest to us. All of these emotions that I didn’t want to deal with myself. I’m not sure if they were waiting for us to break down and fall apart or what but I had too much pride and there were too many “friendly” strangers for me to cry in front of.
The earlier experience of seeing Mom have a seizure had terrified all of us and some of the younger ones refused to go into her hospital room where Dad ever faithful was by her side. I know this confused and perhaps even hurt Dad, but I couldn’t blame them. I didn’t even want to go into that room, but I did because I knew it was expected of me. I walked in, gave Dad a hug, and stared at my Mom. She was still very pale and sick-looking, but her face was peaceful and she was quiet. As much as the nurses and Dad encouraged us to talk to her I couldn’t say anything, words wouldn’t form in my brain so I left to hide in the bathroom as I cried.
A few hours into the day we were called back into her room to say our last goodbye. I don’t remember if we all went in at this point or not, but once again I was walking down a long white hospital hallway and I felt like my world was ending. We were almost to the door of her room when I saw a man sitting at desk and recognized Mom’s doctor. He was crying.
We “visited” with mom and then left before they pulled the plug that was keeping her heart beating; she was nothing more than a fleshly figure living not of her own breath or strength but through a machine.
She was always trying to show and tell us she was fine. But her stubbornness caused her to lose her footing. She fell hitting her head which caused bleeding in her brain and she didn’t have a chance after that.
We were taken to a private room and we all cried and talked about what to do when we went out to the lobby. The pain was severe as we walked through those double doors to face that huge crowd of people who loved my Mom. I didn’t want to see anyone. I didn’t want to talk to anyone. I didn’t want anyone touching me. I was kind of mad at all of those people. I just wanted to be alone.
We walked through those clean, white halls and doors once more to face a sea of eyes full of pity. I think I had controlled some of my tears at that point, but I remember Micah my youngest brother clinging to me, crying nonstop, refusing to let anyone come near him. I took him from the waiting room to sit in the van. As we sat there together, his tears never ceasing, I looked at this nine year old child who would grow up without a mom, having no memories except for those of her being sick and worse still barely even remembering her at all. My life changed drastically at that moment.
I never thought I’d have to put aside my dreams, goals and plans for the future to help my family. But at the age of twenty I put all of that on the backburner of my life because I had six younger siblings who needed me more. I would become their mother figure. I would take care of them for as long as I was needed.
I hope and pray I’ve made my Mom proud. I hope she approves of the way her children have turned out and I pray my siblings don’t forget who she was and how she lived life to the fullest.