Marjorie Writes…

Everyday Musings of an Extraordinary Woman

Archive for the month “May, 2013”

The Big C: Hereafter

I’m still crying after watching the final episode of The Big C: Hereafter. After 3 seasons (plus a 4th mini-season, the Hereafter) the series has concluded. For those of you who haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. It’s serious and funny, black humor, about Cathy, a woman diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma.

Earlier in this season, Cathy had decided to move into a hospice facility – she didn’t want her husband and son to have to take care of her; she especially didn’t want to die in their home, to have her son feel of the house as it were the place his mother died.

Several things struck me after watching the end of this episode (sorry if I spoil it if you haven’t seen it yet!). She didn’t want to die at home, but in my experience (and believe me, I have WAY too much in this arena) that’s precisely where she should have been in her final days and moments. My Mom died of stage 4 lung cancer when I was 18, at home. My step-mom died of stage 3 lung cancer when I was 30, at home. My aunt died of lymphoma (after 17 years and 3 remissions) in my uncle’s home. My father died of stage 4 lung cancer, in my home. My father stayed in his condo, on his own, for almost the full 6 months of his time in hospice. It was only when he’d gotten too weak and the morphine required to keep him relatively comfortable had grown to too large a dose that he couldn’t stay alone any longer. He fought tooth and nail, as Cathy did, but I won (he couldn’t walk at that point, so couldn’t run away). He moved into my home, my dining room turned into his bedroom, and died a week later. This just felt normal to me. They were at home, surrounded by the people they loved, in their normal surroundings (more or less), but at least surrounded by love and people who loved them, nothing clinical or cold around them.

Also, she died with none of her family immediately around her. After having breakfast with her estranged father, her son (who surprised her that morning with his principal and a year-early high school diploma), her husband, her brother and her friend/daughter/mentee who was living with them, they all scattered to take care of things. Her hospice nurse came, they were going to share pie. Her husband came home to have the nurse tell him she’d passed 30 minutes prior to her return. I remember being told that people often didn’t want to pass in front of their loved ones. Even if they’re not conscious (as she was), they somehow can sense when they’re not in the room.

So this episode made me cry. But I knew it was coming. Everything was tied up neatly, which is to be expected in any kind of series where they have the ability to create the perfect ending, unlike life. But it was still a good ending.

Remember to always tell your loved ones you love them. Life is too short and we never know how much time we have left.

Live, love, laugh…it makes it all worthwhile!

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Stepmom

I just watched Stepmom. I shouldn’t have turned it on when I was flipping channels. But it’s a beautiful movie. Maybe I needed a good cry.

For those who don’t remember the movie, or haven’t seen it, it came out in the 1998, starring Susan Sarandon and Julia Roberts. Sarandon played a divorced mother of two, and Roberts was her ex-husband’s young girlfriend/fiance. Of course, they didn’t get along in the beginning. But Sarandon was harboring a secret from her ex and her kids – she was fighting cancer. Eventually, it would come out and they would grow close.

The first time I saw the movie was with my Stepmom, Eileen. She and my father had come down to Houston to visit, and while he was out playing poker with his friends, we decided to go to the movies. We went to see You’ve Got Mail, and afterward snuck into another movie, Stepmom (her idea, not mine, I would never have done that not have suggested to her that we do that. (See my halo?) We didn’t know what it was about, and missed the beginning.

As we were sitting there in the dark theater and caught up with what was happening on-screen, we realized that the situation in the movie hit too close to home and it was probably as uncomfortable for her as it was for me. Of course, not wanting to make her feel more uncomfortable, I was trying to stifle my tears, which were definitely flowing.

Mind you, she wasn’t younger than my father and she had come into his life after we lost my mom. However, it was still close enough to home since my mom had died of cancer 9 years before.

Watching the movie again tonight, this time with kids of my own, touched me on different levels. I pray my kids never have to go through what I did – I fully plan to live forever. Grin. Ok, while I know I can’t shield them from the pain of losing me forever, I mean I hope they won’t have to deal with that loss until they are grown with kids of their own, who are also grown. Maybe even grandkids of their own. Great-grandkids would probably be stretching it.

Anyhow, in the movie Sarandon is talking with her daughter (middle-school age, again, hitting close to home tonight) about her not being around in the future. She told the girl that she would always be with her in her mind, that that was how people stayed around, when she graduated, she would be there, when she got married, she would be there, when she had her babies, she would be there. And I found myself talking to my mom. You WERE there when I graduated (in my case, from college, as I was lucky enough to have her until the end of my freshman year of college). You WERE there when I got married. You WERE there when I had my babies. Even though I so desperately wished she had been there physically with me, I had felt her with me at all of those times.

I had almost forgotten the memory of watching that movie with my stepmom. We lost her 2 short years later. That was just a random day in our brief history, not one of the bigger ones which come to mind when I think of her.

If it wasn’t so late, I might have a drink in her memory. She liked white Russians. Too bad I don’t have any kaluah.

Live, love, laugh…it’s what makes it worthwhile!

Scattered Tonight…

Well, not completely scattered, but my mind is in a few places. I haven’t written in way too long, as I’ve been swamped with the business of trying to provide for my family, raise my children, deal with home repairs/insurance companies etc following Sandy, etc. 

So as I sit here tonight, desperately wanting a cigarette (I quit a 2 pack a day habit cold turkey 5, or 6 days ago now), I’m torn between focusing on my job search and Mother’s Day in 2 days.

Twenty-four years ago, I spent mother’s day at the hospital, visiting my mother. I hadn’t seen her since spring break, when I’d been home from college last. My dad had warned me the day before that she looked bad, wasn’t doing well, but I guess I didn’t want to believe it. Until I saw her. And found a bathroom somewhere away from her room where I could cry and cry until I could keep it together enough to spend time visiting her. She died a week later, give or take. 

So once again, I’m faced with another Mother’s Day without her. Yet somehow, as I’ve aged and my own kids have aged, Mother’s Day has become less about my own mother, even less about me, and more just another day. Is that really sad or just normal? I’m a single mom, my kids are 9 and 11. I know my daughter made me something in girl scouts (don’t yet know what it is) and I’ll get it on Sunday. And they’ll both wish me happy mothers day. And probably let me sleep in (they also do that so they can use the computer/watch tv/etc without being told to do something more productive, etc). And other than that, I have no plans. I lost my mom 24 years ago, my stepmom 13 years ago, and my dad 4 years ago. As I was reminded tonight, I have very little family left, and none around where I live, so it’s pretty much me and the kids. Which is fine – it’s our reality. And I adore my kids. So if I choose not to do anything special for mothers day, that’s my choice, right? As long as it’s not interfering with whatever my kids don’t have planned, right? 🙂

Not a day goes by when I don’t think about my mom and miss her – I decided years ago I wasn’t going to spend any particular days mourning her as she wouldn’t want that. So if anything, maybe we’ll do something to celebrate her life, as we do on her birthday. Or maybe I’ll just sit and knit and read – my mother was an avid knitter and reader – and know that I’m spending the day with my kids doing just what she would have wanted to do on a good mothers day.

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