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the priceless gift we give

by Judy
October 28, 2013 

For the past few weeks my mom has been saying she is going to go very soon. When she’s said this, sometimes it’s been in a very calm way, but other times, she’s expressed sadness and also concern about leaving me, her only child at this point. It’s been a very raw time and in that sense a certain degree of gloom in the air. My mother has always been quite intuitive, but at this point I really don’t know how clearly she’s seeing the future. She has also always been fundamentally very positive and down to earth. So of course she is going to die and at the age of 97, one can assume it could happen at any time and yet she still has life in her. I still feel her vitality.

It's hard to know what to do with these utterances from my mom. All I can really do is to be with her fully when she expresses herself. I can also reassure her that I will be fine when she goes; that she has nothing to worry about. I can tell her how much I love her which I do every day; how much she means to me and has influenced me; that of course I will miss her and I will be fine.

About four days ago we went to my mom’s internist for her general check up. It was interesting to see the effect he had on my mom. He’s a very unusual man and doctor. I may not always agree with his more traditional medical approach, but I do know that he really does care about his patients. He’s also what could be called a real character. He is so remarkably upbeat, at times offbeat and loving that you can’t help but love him back. So when my mom saw him and he gave her the usual kiss on the forehead…as well as a kiss on mine….and then raved about her to his assistant, it was like a breath of fresh air. He always says what a pioneer my mother was to get an aortic valve replacement via a catheter before it was approved by the FDA - she had it done in Cali, Columbia - and what a success it had been before she unfortunately had a stroke. When he asked about my mom, I told him she feels like she is going to leave this world very soon. He immediately responded by saying something delightful like no way she’s going soon. Don’t you see how healthy she is? He then went on to sing a Beatles song related to something we had been talking about while he happily succeeded to extract blood from my mother’s difficult veins.

That was about four days ago and since then my mother’s spirits have really lifted. She hasn’t mentioned going soon and instead I notice at different times she refers to events in the future with a sense she’s going to be around. It makes me wonder how much she is affected by her feelings and how that might influence her conclusions about what is going to happen. In general we easily can be influenced by our feelings and especially when we don’t feel well, it can color our whole view of life.

I am struck by how one can never underestimate the power of this genuine positive attitude to life. Look how this doctor was able to influence my mom by not looking at her as this woman about to die…no, he still sees life. I said to her after the visit, what a character this doctor really is. “Yes,” she said, “but a pleasant character” and expressed the desire to give him one of her paintings.

I count this doctor as one of those caregiver angels, perhaps a quirky angel, but an angel for sure that comes along to uplift, ease pain and really care. He has been there for her throughout the four plus years since her health deteriorated and has always held a vision of possibility. That is a priceless gift to give anyone. 

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