February 01, 2005
February's supposed to be better, right?
My mood's not entirely bright, but I am doing my best not to dwell on negativity. Some days it isn't easy. I have learned my coping skills from my Mom. She's very strong, emotionally and holds the family together with her quiet way of seeing the bigger picture. She often says nothing, but in her silence, you end up getting the answer you seek. My sister-in-law claims she's an ostrich...that she won't say anything negative and therefore is shoving her head in the sand, to live in a world of sunshine and happy places. I don't see it as that.

As I get older, I seem to align myself with her more and more. Her strength and integrity amaze me. She suffers from a variety of ailments, most forefront is her emphysema and osteoporosis. Once a thin, 5'10" with a nickname of String Bean, she now stands just over 5'6". Osteoporosis is wicked. It has robbed her of the ability to walk far, or be very mobile. She once broke a vertebrae when she sneezed. It shakes her confidence more than she would ever admit. The emphysema has worsened over the last two years. She now spends a lot of time taking puffs of her inhaler in a desperate attempt to ward off the oxygen tank the doctor has promised is on the horizon. Yes, she smoked. Since she was 12 years old, until 4 years ago at the age of 66. Times were different then. It was what all young girls wanted to do. She was hooked at an early age, and it was extremely hard on her when she quit, but she did it, knowing how important it was for her.

My mom does not complain. If you didn't know her well, you would have no idea she had any problems at all. One of my brothers knows, but the rest prefer to see her as they remember her in their youth. In fact, they still see her as the alcoholic mom she unfortunately was during our childhood and some have not made peace with that yet. They don't see her as I do, as she becomes more frail and elderly. It hurts me so deeply as I see her struggle. I feel I do her an injustice to even mention it, because I know she prides herself on keeping her pain to herself. Her alcoholism is a thing of the past...For the worst time of it, she was a woman caught in a time when 3 of her boys left home, she became a grandmother, dealt with a sick young daughter, a husband that travelled frequently and going through menopause at the same time. I see it now as a time of extreme personal trial for her, when she succumbed to poor choices of dealing with life's blows. I wish my brothers could see that.

So a couple months ago, I was over for dinner. She excused herself and said she might as well tell me she was having 'digestive issues'. She had finally gone to the doctor about it and it was thought she needed to have a colonoscopy to check it out. I chose not to push. These are such touchy matters, and since learning to deal with Crohn's myself, I know that it can rob you of your dignity. I figured she would tell me what she needed to, when she needed to. She also chose not to tell anyone else, and I respected that. When there was something more to tell, it would be told.

As does happen, she was on the waiting list for the colonoscopy since November and it was schedule for today. The last two days have been difficult. Anyone who has gone through it knows it's not pleasant. Coupled with the breathing problems, it was very trying for her. I talked her through it. I told her it would be ok. That it would be over in a couple days. I calmed her fears like she has so many times for me. All through, she kept asking how I was. How was my cough? How was I dealing with my upcoming biopsy next week? I assured her that I would be fine. That this was her time.

The long story is that things didn't go well today. The doctor could not complete the test as she was found to have a large tumour in her bowel. It is almost completely blocking the colon. So she was sent home and tomorrow, will need to re-enter the hospital for emergency surgery. It is now very obvious she has been stoically dealing with this, probably hoping it would go away. I have that same character fault.

My Dad is nearly completely deaf. It is difficult for him to talk on the phone, and so I haven't been able to get his perspective yet. He worships my Mom. They met at a movie theatre when she was just 15 and married a year later. They're coming up on 53 years and they still hold hands and stare into each other's eyes. They are the reason I don't settle. I know there is true love and I know it's worth waiting for.

I spent the last two hours on the phone with my brothers and my nieces assuring them that Mom will be fine. That yes, this is serious. No, we don't know if it is malignant. We will take things as it goes, but for now, she is not in pain. Things are being taken care of and we will go from there. I hear my voice sounding strong and sure, explaining things slowly and calmly. And I think, I've learned from her. I owe it to her to be there for the rest of the family, while she can't be. I do it for her, and for me. It feels like the right thing to do, and my new role in the family fits me. My older brothers look to me now for this assurance.

But, as I get off the phone tonight, I can't help but feeling who calls me and tells me it will be alright?

Vancouver, British Columbia
A patriotic Canadian full of visions of a better Canada, random thoughts and a lot of hot air. Who am I? A struggling writer and photographer, who looks forward to a better Canada. I read. A lot. I learn. A lot. I push myself. A lot. The world is a small place, and getting smaller every day. I'm proud to have friends in every corner of the earth, and abide by the old adage that there are no strangers, only friends we haven't met yet.

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Turning thirty and a half
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