My mother has been diagnosed, partially, with necrotic liver abscesses. The infection has been unresponsive to antibiotics, and the bacteria has been difficult to culture. This is a painful and slow process for my mother as she goes on week two of her hospital stay. Our hopes were raised when the doctor said that cancer could be ruled out as a participant of the attack on her liver, that she could be discharged soon with at-home infusions via picc line to her heart, and that the infection would be beat within a matter of four weeks. The next day, we found out more masses and necrotic spots were found on her liver, that cancer is still a probable cause, and that the infection has been immune to antibiotics. She will not be going home for a long while.
It is the strangest thing, to see your mother in this state, and to see your father struggle with feelings of helplessness. I hold onto every bit of positive news we get, and I feel confident that my mother will be okay with the help of intensive treatment. There is a certain clarity I experience when realizing the magnitude and mortality of my mother’s situation, as if I can channel the feelings she had for me when she was raising me, and finally understand them.
My mother had two sons eleven years prior to having me, with my father. My father took on the responsibility of her preteen sons from another marriage, and was ecstatic to start his family with her. Prior to having me, she was nearly killed by a failed pregnancy in which she carried twin fetuses. She waited so long to complain about the pain of blood filling her abdominal and chest cavities that her doctor was shocked to see she was still alive! After further attempts to have children, all complicated by the fact that my dad had broken his pelvis in a terrible car crash and was told he would never walk or have children, and the fact that my mother had only one ovarian tube left after her miscarriage, I came along… followed very quickly by my brother. Thirteen months later quickly!
We started in a poor area in a trailer. The plus side is that my brother and I had plenty of space to roam and we learned to enjoy nature at an early age. That wanderlust and curiosity almost ended us on a number of occasions, and yet my mother was always there to thwart fatality.
In one amazing display of a bonded connection to her children, my mother simply ‘felt’ that something was terribly wrong with my brother. She got up from her desk, where she was busy sending bills and filing paperwork away, and ran to check on the children in the backyard. My three year old brother, in all of his arsonistic glory, had managed to find a gas can and was carrying it to the bonfire my dad had set up to burn up excess brush from the yard. If not for her intervention, I cringe to imagine the outcome.
Growing up, my mother was always supportive of my tomboyish ways. She never once told me I should only play with my dolls, which I owned in abundance, or that I should stop pursuing my love of “boyish” things such as sports, video games, and Bugle Boy pants. Clear into my teenage years, my mom encouraged me to trust myself. The concept of trusting oneself, I feel, is lost on many young women.
With this concept, I was empowered to survive without the approval of boys or men. I found it easy to reject unwanted advances, but unashamed to express myself. She educated me, instead of shamed me, and I put that education to good use. Because of her, I knew how to look for respect in a partner. I married a good man after avoiding what would have been disastrous with ex-boyfriends.
I recall the period of my teenage life in which I insisted on wearing short skirts and revealing, edgy clothes. My mother asked me once if I wanted to cover up, and I asked her why. She told me it looked “uncomfortable”. Again, she never shamed me, and because of that I respected my mind and my body. She was right, too. Those clothes were very uncomfortable and I learned how to dress reasonably, without sacrificing my sexuality. In fact, I never had to sacrifice my edge!
When I could not take the pressure of religion anymore, I came to my mother and we had that conversation. I told her, fearful of hurting her feelings, that I simply did not believe in God the way Christians do. I explained that the words in the bible gave me nightmares, that I love everyone, but that I could not resign to the oppression of the religion I was raised with. My mother, after a few silent moments of thought, simply responded “That makes sense.” I asked her, “Will I burn in hell?” And she told me, “No, that’s an unnecessary fear.”
Unnecessary fears. She taught me to disregard those, even at the expense of her own deeply held belief system.
My mother taught me feminism as a plight for equality and not a weapon of oppression. She taught me to think, question, and analyze. She showed me how to respect myself and how to identify those who respect me. Now I am the person I am today, and I’m so happy with that. Is that not successful parenting?
Now, my mom has trouble with her own unnecessary fears. The monumental burden of medical bills pending for her treatment has made her feel as if her life is not valuable enough to afford them. Despite my dad’s lifelong work effort, my family has never had much to rely on in terms of savings due to numerous unfortunate circumstances ranging from healthcare to criminal exploitation.
If there is one thing I wish I could show her this Mother’s Day, it is that she IS worth the price. She deserves to live. And that’s why, for the first time in the history of anything, I ask for donations to afford the intensive treatment she needs.