Many of you know my mom was diagnosed with rapid growth small cell lung cancer right around Thanksgiving of 2009. Her first round of chemo began Friday after Thanksgiving. I had the pleasure (is that an oxymoron?) of being with her in the hospital when the doctor gave her the prognosis of just a couple of weeks to live without chemo or she could have a few months left with the chemo. Talk about heart wrenching!
I turned into Miss Robotic. Everything became just matter-of-fact as I would share the information with loved ones. Inside I was weeping, on the outside, I was calm and steady. (until I got home a few days later)
My mom cracks me up all the time. On day two when the doctor came in her room she asked, “Is it terminal?” Maybe it’s odd to laugh at the question, but it just tickled me, and still does.
While in the hospital Mom said, “Well, since I don’t have much time left on the earth I better get myself a goal.” A while later she said, “My goal is to make everyone smile who comes in contact with me.” That is my mom! Life has never been about her – but always about others. Even though she was in immense pain she needed to get out of her hospital bed and walk. As we walked past the nurses station Mom suddenly began to dance. It was more like a hip-bump-bump kind of thing. But all of the nurses began to laugh. She took my hand, looked me in the eye and said, “Working on that goal!” – then she winked at me.
Without divine intervention, Mom is going to die. We have talked together about funeral arrangements and things like that.
When I was on the plane I saw in the Sky Mall magazine an ad for personalized playing cards. Mom LOVES to play cards. Most of my memories as a kid involve playing games with Mom. We played Cribbage, Five Hundred, all kinds of Solitair games, Nertz, etc. I thought this would be a perfect “take-away” for her family and friends.
I shared the idea with my sister who gently reminded me that they don’t give out party favors at funerals.
I still thought I had a brilliant idea and shared it with my mom on the phone. She LOVED the idea! She had me look up prices. She said, “I don’t want flowers at my funeral” But I would love to have playing cards for everyone.
The next day she called and said, “Did you know they have “living funerals?”
I said to her, “Mom! That’s called a party!”
She said, “Well, I want one!” I couldn’t believe the excitement in her voice when she began to talk about having a party. She would invite all of her family and then they wouldn’t have to come down for the funeral. They could remember her as being fun. (Have I mentioned that I decided a long time ago that I don’t “do” funerals?) She then started talking about having a garage sale at the same time and it would pretty much pay for the party.
I think it’s a grand idea! Then we can give out party favors! We talked about how to personalize the cards. I suggested a picture of her standing by the semi truck she used to drive. She liked that idea. Then I said, “Maybe the caption should simply say,
Ilene Harlan born June 17, 1945
Mom loved it! – because it is the truth.
So, we’re planning a party. Y’all are invited!
Then ….later….. we’ll all get to have a party again!
I took this picture of Mom and Shileen when we went to visit last weekend. Mom was having a rough day. When I saw them sitting together like that, I just got such a sense of peace. She may be resting on the outside – but on the inside – she’s having a party!