A Realists Perception
by Karen Story
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I started out writing this morning a letter to my sister, and then realized it would really serve no purpose other than to eat away at a relationship that is somewhat shaky. Our mother, throughout the years, took every opportunity she had available to put me in a bad light to anyone she came in contact with. The reasoning behind my mother’s actions is for another day and another story. If you read closely, you may get a hint.
My sister says she is a “realist”. I can’t remember exactly when or why or what she and I were discussing after my mother’s death when she made the statement, “I am a realist”. I’m sure it had to be concerning our brother. What he is and what he could be are two vastly different types of people. He is mentally ill and can be quite manipulative and will lie about most anything. Or it could have been about something factual concerning money spent on him. It just escapes me what that conversation was about. All I truly remember is her comment, “I am a realist,” and it has been ringing in my ears for days, combined with my unspoken scenario rebuttal.
Sometimes you need to stop and think. Sometimes it’s better to wait. Maybe maturity has finally arrived for me. I felt God say to me “Be still.” I interpreted that small voice as a need to keep my mouth shut and to allow God to do his work. I also heard Him say “Build up”. I felt clearly that my words should exalt Him and not tear another person down. It’s not easy to heed His commands as I so wanted to come back with a stabbing comment, “Why?” because, if you have ever been the receiving end of hurtful words, you learn that words can hurt and they can have lasting emotional scars. I know, as I have been the receiving end of numerous hurtful words from my parents and especially my mother, along with ex-spouses, other family members and friends who were trying to be well-meaning or just plain hateful.
Now that I have laid all of the above down in black and white, let’s get serious here. If you are a realist, then you are an advocate of realism; one who believes that matter, objects etc. have real existence beyond our perception of them. Perception is a conscious understanding of something. Perception is detected by the five senses, not necessarily understood and also detected within consciousness as a thought, intuition and deduction. I believe my sister was fully aware and had a conscious understanding that mom had a “living will.” The morning after mom was admitted into the hospital, I informed her that the ER doctor wanted a copy of mom’s living will.
As the days progressed until her death, eleven days after being rushed to the emergency room, it was unclear to the medical professionals as to what exactly was wrong and what exactly to do to fix her. Her initial reason for wanting to go to the hospital was that she was gasping for breath. It was also noted that mom’s blood pressure was extremely high upon admittance. The ER doctor explained that the high blood pressure caused her heart to push excess water into her lungs. The drugs to lower her blood pressure affected her kidneys and, combined with hardening of the arteries; she slowly got weaker and was experiencing a lot of back pain. Towards the end, she actually bled out from an aneurysm and its location was unsure. That internal specialist felt that she was too high a risk to scope.
Several different doctors, nurses and a hospital staffer asked the same question. “Does your mom have a living will?” My response was “Yes, and you need to ask my sister for a copy of it.” I’m not sure if anyone asked her directly for it. I do know that I mentioned to her on two separate occasions that doctors had asked to see the living will. I do remember that her primary physician asked and orchestrate over all the doctors that passed through my mother’s room, said he had it on file, even though he was one of the few that were questioning its existence.
Now here’s the big statement that I totally swallowed because I felt God say “Be still”. “A realist would have produced the living will so that our mother didn’t have to suffer needlessly for several days.” I know those days haunt my sister and they haunt me too. I felt so helpless. I was helpless because my mother had given her medical power-of-attorney to make some very serious decisions. I’m not angry at the medical professionals but I felt helpless and I was distraught about my mother being in so much pain. I’m sad for my sister that she was unable to understand that our mother may not recover this time. I had in my mind that this time was different and had put two and two together because so many people were asking for the living will. They knew something that I didn’t and they were just doing their job to promote life.
I felt shame after my sister questioned me after sharing a conversation that mom’s primary physician and I had had. The conversation was a very serious heart-to-heart with the doctor the Friday prior to mom leaving us. He said, “This is different and you need to talk to your sister”. I did and she came back after claiming that she had paged and talked to him. She told me that he said I was hysterical and over-emotional. Yes, I was emotional. Who wouldn’t be? The woman was in pain and had repeatedly said things like “Tell them to leave me alone. Please make them stop. Don’t touch me. I’m 83 years old and lived a good life, now let me go.” often accompanied with beating of her fists on the hospital bed mattress. The next day, when he came to visit mom, I asked him “Why are you trying to put a wedge in between my sister and I? I spoke with her as you asked me to, i.e., to pave the way for her to understand that this time is different and why did you tell my sister that I was hysterical and over emotional?” His response was, “I did not say that!” So I wonder, did she call him, did they really have that conversation?
The following Monday, I had this overwhelming need to make sure all the family was together to visit with mom and to be available for a chat with mom’s primary doctor. It was the last time we were all together in the room, except one, but the majority was present. Mom was able to speak to each one of us and even carried on in her normal jokingly way that was typical for her nature. When the nurses came to do their duties and the doctor showed up, we all adjourned to the cafeteria for an informal meeting. He gave hope where in our heart-to-heart the Friday beforehand, he spoke to me about considering “comfort measures” and maybe the need to call in for hospice care. Again, he asked my sister for the living will and she responded that she had to find it.
So I let it go and for five full days, I just let it be and waited until my sister was ready to let mom go. I was with mom in her room as much as was I physically able to be. I run my own business and was in pain myself from a recent surgery a few months prior. Plus, doctors were giving us false hope and that added to the confusion. I had to let it go and be there for mom and be available to here what the doctors and nurses were saying.
It was a horrible time but a healing time for me. In the midst of mom being so angry at the nurses trying to poke, prick and keep her bottom clean during the two days before she died, she said things that I needed to hear. She would sleep and then be lucid. Those moments were precious. She told me that she loved me and that of all things – I had pretty hair. She told me, in her own way, that she acknowledged the dysfunction in my upbringing by saying she did not want to see our real life father, her deceased husband, in heaven. She cried out in a mournful tone that she did not want to see him in heaven and continued in the next breath as she turned away from me, “He took our love for each other away.” This led me to tell her. “It’s okay, I have forgiveness in my heart and I am okay.” I came around and got real close and softly told her that she needed to forgive him too, if she wanted to see Jesus. She cried out, “What’s wrong with me?” and I replied, “Mom, you’re going on the best vacation ever, you are going to heaven.” I asked her, “Mom, I need to ask you something.” She replied, “Not now, I need to rest.”
Mom slept for a while and I began praying around her room. I anointed every doorway, and every piece of medical equipment that surrounded her, her bed, the window, anything and everything that was in her room. I anointed her pillow and I anointed her forehead with the sign of the cross. I prayed for peace and understanding, forgiveness and clarity. I prayed for the doctors and staff and I prayed for my sister and brother, myself and all the family. Upon her awakening, she answered my unspoken question as she yelled out and half way rose from the bed, “I know Jesus, and I know I am going to heaven!” She confirmed it for me and I thanked God. I believe while she slept she forgave, He forgave and he made a place in Heaven for her. I know without a doubt that the next time I see her we will both be in heaven. This life as we know it will pass and meeting again will be sweet and as it should have been here on earth.
So who is the realist here? I believe that it is I – A person who tends to view or represent things as they really are and past situations as they really were. I believe in seeing things the way they really are, as opposed to how they would like them to be.
I’m letting it all go now. Writing is sometimes the best medicine; depending on God is the ultimate cure!
Psalm 46:10 NIV
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
1 Thessalonians 5:10-12 NIV
He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
Matthew 6:14 NIV
For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
John 14:2-3 NIV
My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
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