It is March 1950, and I had married in August of 1949. My mother became ill and we rented a big house to keep all of us, my two brothers , grandmother and mother together.
I was the only one that knew she was terminally ill with cancer. In those days they didn’t tell the patient, and only one member of the family, and being the oldest child, that was me. Of course, I told my husband and my grandmother as she took care of her night and day.
After about a year, she was in and out of a coma state, and in a waking moment she said she wanted to talk to me, so of course, I sat down next to her bed and took her hand. She told me about her insurance policy and that I was her beneficiary. It was for $1200. A lot of money in those days. She told me I was to tell the undertaker that she had $600.00 and that is all I could spend. The rest she gave me a verbal list of what to do with it, and tears started to roll down my face, I was trying to smile, and she said don’t cry, and I said, Mom I just have a cold. She said she wasn’t afraid that she was going to be with my father. I kissed her forehead and left the room.
She lived just a few days longer and instead of crying, I felt relieved as I know how she had suffered. Then there was that awful wake they used to hold when someone passed away for three nights. My mother had soft wavy hair and somehow they had curled it up tight, I couldn’t believe my eyes and they offered to change it but I said, no let her rest.
Those nights I felt as though I were a hostess at some kind pf weird party. I remember I had on a navy blue polka dot dress, and had put on blue earrings, and my Aunt came and told me to take them off. I did. Her whole family and mine were angry with me for not letting them know she was ill.
A whole year had gone by and none of them had visited or called so it didn’t seem that I had to spread the word. My mother would have known something was up long before the coma had I done that.
I don’t know the reason for not telling patient that they are that ill, as I have survived three major cancers and still being tested for the one I had surgery for last year. I am glad I know, but I don’t tell everyone as I don’t want them to be worried about me. I am sure my mother would have felt the same way. She never got older than 42 so I can’t compare myself to her older than that, but I am so much like her in so many ways. I know she is looking down on me and is watching over my two children and my husband until I can again.
Thank you mother, I love you,
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