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A Mother's Anguish
Mia, an elderly woman, sat on her green leather couch beside her old orange tabby cat, in her small urban apartment. She drank a glass of cold iced water, waiting for her daughter, Emily, to call her. She had been sitting there for nearly two hours waiting, but she had not yet called. The day before, Mia had gone to the hospital’s emergency room because she was having continual bowel problems and she couldn’t keep her food or medications down. After waiting for several hours in the emergency room, the doctor simply gave her a prescription and sent her on her way. Today, Mia still wasn’t feeling well and she needed someone to be with her. Her friends were either out of town camping with their family or were spending the summer soaking up the sun in the sunny state of Florida. Mia envied her friends because their children were always so good to their mothers. Mia’s friend, Joanne, had received an iPhone for her birthday from her son, Craig, while Mia didn’t receive anything for Mother’s Day or for her birthday, not even a bouquet of flowers. Her children never came to visit and they always made excuses for their neglect. Last time when Mia was unwell, her daughter, Emily told her that there was absolutely no point in her planning to come down to visit for two days. This enraged Mia and it made her feel worthless. . Finally, the phone rang. It was, at last, Mia’s daughter, Emily.
“Hey, mom. How have you been doing? Are you feeling better?” Emily asked her mom, as she stood by the kitchen counter chopping up a cucumber for supper.
“No, I am not feeling well. Yesterday I went to the emergency room, ” Mia told her daughter. “Do you know when you will be able to visit ?” she added.
“No, mom. We are very busy. Tim is in summer school taking a course, we all have appointments next week, and Rob, of course, is still very busy with the company,” she said. “We can’t just pick up and leave to come see you. We have very busy lives, mom,” she added.
“I can’t cook or do errands and I need someone to help me out around the house. The least you can do for me after all I have done for you is to come over,” Mia pleaded.
“Mom, we cannot come down! You should ask Mark if he can visit. I love you, mom, but I have to go, okay?” she replied and hung up the telephone.
“Emily...” Mia cried in her old-fashioned white coloured telephone, as she realized that Emily had hung up on her. Mia slowly placed the phone back down.
Mia was very disappointed in her daughter. After all that she had done for her. Mia paid for Emily to go to university, and just recently, sold her house and moved into an apartment to pay Emily’s financial debt, and she wasn’t even willing to visit . That was the least she could do. The following day, while Mia was placing her bread in the toaster to make toast for breakfast, her son, Mark, called.
“Hi, mom... I talked to Emily and she said that you weren’t feeling well. How are you?” Mark asked his mom.
“Not good. I am spending my days on the toilet in my bathroom, reading a People Magazine,” Mia replied. “I need someone to come over. Can you and Samantha come stay with me?” Mia asked.
“Mom, we are very busy and it’s a very long drive to your house. I don’t think so,” he told his mom.
“But, Mark, I need someone to come stay with me,” she told him.
“Well, maybe Carolyn can come down? She’s closer than we are. I’ll call her and ask. But, I have to go now, Mom. I was just calling to check up on you,” Mark said.
“Okay. Well, give me a call whenever you can,” she said.
“Will do,” he answered her and hung up the phone.
Mia was again, very upset and disappointed, that after all she did for her children, that they would not even come down to visit and be with her during the time in which she needed them most. She was 90 years old; she could pass away any day . Did her children not realize that? Did they not realize how ill, fragile and feeble she really was?
Later that day, while Mia was finishing cleaning herself up in the washroom, her daughter, Carolyn called and left a message. “Hi, Mom. It’s Carolyn,” her daughter said on the message. “Emily and Mark called me and told me that you weren’t doing so well. How about you come up to the cottage with us in the next day or so, so you don’t have to be alone? I love you. Give me a call back whenever you get this message,” she continued.
After Mia finished cleaning herself up in the washroom, she headed over to the couch, turned on the TV and watched Dr. Phil. Today’s episode was about elder abuse. After Dr. Phil was finished, she headed over to the kitchen and grabbed a quick snack of mouth-watering juicy orange slices that were already sliced and tossed into a container ready for her to grab. As she was on her way back to the living room, she came across the red flashing light over by the phone. She just realized that Carolyn had called and she dialed her number to call her back. “Sorry, we’re not here right now. Please leave us your name and phone number and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can,” the machine said, so she just hung up. Mia stood by the phone sheepishly, tear drops dribbling down her old wrinkled pale face, like the rain does during a heavy spring rainfall.
“After all that I do for my children, I’m not worth a day’s visit. Everyone’s too busy for me,” she babbled.
Suddenly, Mia felt dizzy and her surroundings were blurry and glazed. Her heart and chest felt heavy like a woman was standing on her chest, as there was great pressure. Mia had collapsed.
About an hour later, Mia’s neighbour, Charlie knocked on the bright red door of Mia’s apartment. After knocking on her door three times and waiting a couple of minutes outside, he entered, using the spare key Mia had given him for emergencies. There, he found Mia lying on the floor, unconscious. She had fallen. Charlie’s large wobbly hands dialed 911. Several minutes later, the ambulance arrived and Mia was rolled out of her apartment into the ambulance on a stretcher and taken to the nearby hospital.
“What happened?” a nurse who was dressed in pink hospital scrubs and a pair of white leather running shoes asked, as she sat down in the interview room.
“I don’t know” Charlie muttered. “I came over to bring back a container she gave me about a week ago and I found her laying on the floor unconscious,” Charlie continued, as the nurse scribbled his responses on her chart which was clipped to a brown clip board.
“Do you know if she has a husband?” the nurse asked.
“No, she’s widowed,” Charlie responded.
“Does she have any children?” the nurse asked.
“Yes, she does,” Charlie answered. “But I don’t think that they will be willing to come down,” he continued.
“Well, we’ll just have to wait and see, won’t we,” she said and smiled. It was clear that she was trying to be optimistic.
“Administration will try to contact her children and let them know what is going on,” she added, as she got up from the chair in which she was sitting while she was talking with Charlie and she exited the room.
The following day while Mia’s daughter, Carolyn, was making breakfast, the phone rang. It was the hospital.
“Hello, is this Carolyn Legault, Mia’s daughter?” a woman who worked in the hospital administration said. She sounded young and her voice squealed.
“Yes, this is she,” Carolyn said.
“Your mother is in the hospital. She was found unconscious and brought in last night. We have been trying to reach you at your home,” the woman said. “We finally found this number in Mia’s files,” she continued.
“Is she okay?” Carolyn asked sounding concerned.
“We would like you to come to the hospital ,” the woman answered.
“We will be there soon ,” Carolyn replied and hung up the phone. “Carl! Come down here please,” she yelled.
“In five minutes, mom” Carl yelled back.
“No, we need to go to the hospital now!” she replied. Carl quickly ran down the stairs. It was clear that he had just awakened by his appearance alone.
“What’s wrong, mom?” he asked.
“Grandma’s in the hospital. Something is wrong,” she exclaimed.
“What is it?” he questioned with concern.
“I don’t know. We’re going to the hospital,” she responded as she grabbed her oversized tan purse and keys and left the cottage. “Can you phone your uncle Mark and aunt Emily please, honey, and tell them that grandma is in the hospital? I can’t talk on the phone while driving,” she said, as she handed her son, Carl, the cell phone. Carl phoned his uncle Mark.
“Uncle Mark! Something is wrong with grandma!! She’s in the hospital,” Carl announced to his uncle.
“What?!” Mark responded, shocked. “Can you please put your mommy on the phone?” Mark demanded.
“I’m sorry. She’s driving,” Carl said.
“Put it on speaker , Carl,” his mom interrupted him. He put the phone on speaker.
“What’s going on? Is she going to be alright?” Mark asked.
“I don’t know, Mark. I don’t know,” she replied very sheepishly. “Hey, can you phone Emily, let her know what is going on and tell her that she needs to come to the hospital,”
“Yeah, I’ll do that,” he replied. “I’ll be there as soon as I can,” he added and hung up the phone.
A few hours later, Carolyn and Carl, Mark and Emily finally arrived at the hospital. They met in the cafeteria and once they all gathered marched to Mia’s room. There, Mia was lying. She was hooked up to an intravenous.
“What’s wrong with grandma?,” Carl asked. His voice was increasingly shy and concerned in a child-like way.
“I don’t know, honey,” Carolyn answered. The doctor entered the hospital room. He was dressed in a white laboratory coat, blue hospital scrubs and running shoes that were white and blue .
“You must be Mia’s children,” he exclaimed, as he closed the curtain.
“Yes, we are,” Mark replied, as the others nodded.
“It appears that your mother had a mild heart attack,” the doctor informed them. His voice sounded serious.
“Will she be okay?” Emily questioned.
“I believe that she will be okay. We will discharge her tomorrow, ” he answered. “...However, one of you will need to stay with her in her home once she is discharged,” he added.
“That’s okay. We are just thankful that she is still alive,” Mark exclaimed.
“She will be asleep for the next little while until the medications wear off,” the doctor concluded, as he walked towards the curtain, exited and closed it to give the family privacy.
“Gosh, I can’t believe that mom almost died,” Carolyn said to her brothers and sisters, as they stood by Mia’s hospital bed.
“Neither can I,” exclaimed Craig. “I really wish that I had come over when mom asked me to,” he continued.
“Me too,” Emily exclaimed. The room became awkwardly quiet.
“We still have to decide who’s going to stay with mom...” Carolyn said, breaking the silence.
“I’ll stay with her!” Emily said.
“No, Emily, you have Tim to worry about...” Craig interrupted. “I’ll stay with her.,”
“How about we all stay with grandma,” Carl interrupted. “...That way we can all be with her.
The following day, Mia was discharged from the hospital. She went home and her children stayed with her while she recovered from her mild heart attack. Now that Mia’s children had almost lost their mom, they felt a sudden realization of all that their mom had done for them. They were now appreciative of her and they felt very remorseful for not spending every precious moment with their mom. It was a lesson well-learned for Mia’s children and to Mia’s great delight.