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Mother - Jennifer P. MAG
My mother was truly a remarkable woman. She was beautiful, intelligent, funny,loving and creative. Everyone loved her. Everyone wanted to be aroundher.
My mother was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor when I was fouryears old. It was a typical morning in our small apartment in Queens; I waseating my waffles, and my hair was tied up in what my mom called a"boof," a really high, messy bun. My mother was in the bathroom when myfather and I heard a crash. My mother had fallen and cracked her head on thebathtub. My father called 911. Before I knew it, a family friend was there totake me to her house for a while. I didn't understand what washappening.
My mother had fallen because she was dizzy due to her tumor andthe medication she was taking. The terrifying sight of my mother on the floor hasalways stayed with me. I wish I could forget it.
My mother came home fromthe hospital for Christmas that year. The cancer was beaten, but at a high cost.My mother had been pregnant, but the chemotherapy had killed the baby. It was toosoon to know its gender, so my mother named it Mickey, Michelle for a girl,Michael for a boy. When our family went to church, we prayed for baby Mickey.This must have hurt my mom so much. I wonder what my life would be like now if Ihad a baby brother or sister.
The chemotherapy also made her lose herhair, but nothing, not even powerful drugs, could take away from her beauty. Momwore a wig until her hair grew back. The chemo also weakened the muscles in herleft arm so it hung by her side. She had trouble lifting things. I was told aboutmy mother's disease, but I didn't understand. All I knew was that I had to becareful when I hugged Mom.
That Christmas, the hospital sent me presents.One was a teddy bear I still have; he is my favorite stuffed animal. I alsoreceived a Fisher-Price doctor set. My mom told me the names of each piece ofplay medical equipment and showed me how the doctors used them on her. I thoughtit was fun to play doctor.
A few years later, my mother, father and Imoved in with my grandmother; she had the downstairs apartment and we livedupstairs. Soon, crushing news swept through our family once again: my mother'scancer had returned. I remember calling my friend Katie as soon as I heard. Myvoice couldn't help but shake and I tried to hold back the tears, but it wasunbelievably hard.
My mother was in the hospital again, and received morechemotherapy. She lost her hair again and had to wear a wig. She was treated byher favorite doctor, Dr. Helson, a kind man with a great personality. My wholefamily loved him.
The hospital didn't allow children under the age of 12to visit, which I thought was ridiculous. I found ways to sneak in. She was mymother and I had a right to be with her. No dumb hospital rule could change that.I would hide behind my family while we went past the front desk. Most of the timeit worked. When we visited, we had to wear special gowns to protect her fromgerms. I couldn't even touch her; it was horrible. I can still smell the hospitalfood, and still see the hospital beds, rooms and hallways. I can still see her inthat wheelchair.
My mother beat that second brain tumor. But this time,her balance, arms and legs were affected. I went with her to physical therapywhere she would have to close her eyes, hold her arm out to the side with herfinger pointed, and move it to touch her nose. Sounds simple, right? But itwasn't for her. And each time she couldn't do it, she became frustrated, but shenever gave up. Mom was a very strong woman. She had difficulty walking becauseone of her legs had been affected by the chemotherapy and used a wheelchair untilshe regained her strength.
Two years passed, and Mom was healthy, evendriving. Then the cancer came back again, but this time it was breast cancer. Forsome reason, I was a little less terrified. This didn't seem as frightening asbrain cancer. I sat beside Mom while she wrote questions for the doctor. I wentto the doctor's office, her questions in my hand, ready to deal with the reality.Mom knew she couldn't ignore the facts. She had another operation, and once morethe cancer was beaten.
You would think, Okay, so that must be it, right?but no. Two years later, the brain cancer returned a third time. Our family,including my mother, was sick to our stomachs that it was happening again. Hadn'tshe suffered enough?
Six months later, her suffering ended. This was theworst, last and most painful time of all. I remember it like it wasyesterday.
I was in fifth grade and on my way to the Valentine's Day dancewith my friends. My parents wanted me to go. They were going to the city to takemy mother to the hospital, and didn't want me be think about that all night. Ifelt guilty that while they were dealing with this horrible thing, I would behaving a great time.
My dad came home the next day very upset. I didn'tlike the look of his face. He said that Mom would have to be there a littlelonger than expected - a month. I couldn't believe it. It had always gone likethis: Mom's sick, she goes to the hospital, gets her chemotherapy, and in a week,she's home.
This was different. I went to the hospital once or twice aweek with my dad. More than that would have been too much for me to handle. I'dalways hated seeing Mom sick, and this time it was harder. She looked awful.
We could see huge black and blue bruises all over her body; she bruisedeasily because her platelets were so low. She couldn't get up, and had to use awheelchair. After that long month Mom was allowed to come home with a privatenurse for 24-hour-a-day supervision. A hospital bed was brought into the livingroom. She didn't have to say it, but I knew she was embarrassed. Embarrassed tohave to be watched like a little kid all the time. Embarrassed not be able to dothe simplest things. Embarrassed not to be able to be the mother and wife she hadbeen. If only she knew that nothing could make her any less of a mother andwife!
My mother's birthday came a few months later. We sat around thetable with a big cake and my mom said it was her last birthday. It gave me chillsto hear her say that. We all told her it wasn't, but it was.
Nine dayslater, that July 4th, when I came out of my room, everyone had strangeexpressions on their faces. I saw my dad on the phone. He turned and, with anexpression so sick and sad, like everything he loved was taken from him, said,"She's gone, Gina ... she's gone." I ran out of the house. I couldn'tbelieve it.
Not all memories of my mother revolve around her being ill. Ihave many wonderful memories, too. These are the ones that mean the most to me.They are the ones I will never forget. My mother was an amazing person. Hersuffering helped make her even stronger. Mom lived with cancer for seven years,when the doctors told her she only had months. She is an inspiration to me, andwill always be.