It was Sunday, September 16th. The Twin Towers lay in rubble, people were missing. For me, it all seemed like a movie, it wasn't real.
The Friday before the terrorist attack, my Mom, was scheduled for gall bladder surgery, but at the last moment it was postponed to Saturday so my brother, sister, my husband, and I gathered. After the surgery it was determined she had had a heart attack.
Tuesday morning, I was sitting on the end of my Mom's hospital bed watching the news, when we saw an airplane
fly right into the side of one of The Towers. It didn't register with me as reality. I was already overloaded
from emotion through Mom's surgery and squeezing in work between trips to the hospital. My brother's son worked at the Pentagon, he was frantic. The phone lines were jammed with calls to the east coast.
A nurse drifted in to Mom's room, and turned off the TV, she thought it would be too upsetting just after surgery. A recreational therapist came in with
her harp to play the sweet melody of Amazing Grace, Mom insisting I sing along, so I honored her request.
My brother's son had had a dentist appointment that morning and wasn't at work at the Pentagon when the plane hit. He was okay. Relief flooded my brother.
He drove home.
Wednesday, my Mom wanted to go home. Her doctor said her heart was fine, she could go home on Thursday, but she couldn't be alone for a few days. At 91 she still lived in the home she'd come to 58 years earlier to marry our Dad. Her cardiologist had heard her life story one day. He had described her as "a delight to visit with".
In 1943 she married our Dad, a farmer from the area where she grew up. She thrived on making the old house a warm, friendly home. In six years they had three children. My Dad had cancer surgery while I was being born 200 miles away. Five years later he had open heart surgery in Chicago, because heart bypass surgery was not yet performed in every city. My Mom hadn't expected him to survive either the cancer or the
heart disease, but he did.
Then suddenly, on an April afternoon in 1958, he died. The farm had guernsey cows, four hundred chickens, apple orchards, and fields waiting for plantings. There was utter sadness and disbelief in the house and the community.
Mom often spoke this phrase, "time marches on", and so it did. Mom's life drastically changed, but I don't think we kids realized that because she made our lives run smoothly.
On Thursday, September 13, 2001, my sister spent the night with our Mom. My brother stayed Friday, and I came to her home Saturday afternoon after work.
We had a wonderful evening of Mom supervising me making supper. We played Scrabble, our favorite thing to do
together. At 3:00 a.m. Mom got up to go to the bathroom, I popped up from the livingroom couch. She was fine, this was usual. I tucked her back into her bed,
using the phrases she used on me as a child, "Sleep tight, don't let the bedbugs bite". I kissed her forehead.
At 6:00 a.m., Mom got up again. I followed. She said she had those chest pains again. Did she have nitroglycerin? No. I dressed while dialing 911.
The dispatcher asked me about her pulse and I remarked it was probably better than mine. He told me to calm down, if I was upset, she would get upset. I took a long, deep breath, and saw the path before me, to take charge of the situation and put her at ease.
The first responder arrived within 4 minutes. I jokingly asked him if he slept with his fireman boots on, because I didn't know how he could have gotten dressed and buckled all those fasteners and arrived to us in just a few minutes. Mom laughed at that too. He said he was often asked that question.
Then, without warning, she collapsed. I saw her fading away. They carried her to the ambulance where I was asked that awful question, "There's a DNR order, isn't there?" Yes.
The ambulance sat unmoving in the driveway for forever. I was in the front seat, they wouldn't allow me in the back. I looked across the beautiful green lawn and began to pray, "Our Father who art in heaven..," but
that's all I could remember. I said to the driver, "She's dying isn't she?" He said, "Oh, no, we don't know that." But I knew.
At the hospital I had to register my Mom and I wasn't very patient about it. I HAD to get back by my Mom. The attending physician told me her heart had just stopped, but she would still be able to hear me, that I was to talk to her.
I told Mom, "I'm here with you, I love you. You've been a great Mom to all of us." I told her she could go to heaven to be with our Dad. A peacefulness came over her, and me. I truly feel my Dad's spirit was in that room with us at that very moment. I told Mom she had waited 43 years to be reunited with Dad, she was to "go to him, go with him now."
I was completely unaware of anyone else in Emergency. I began to sing the Twenty-third Psalm, The Lord's My Shepherd. It seemed the most natural thing for me to do. The peacefulness that had descended over my Mom's countenance also enveloped me.
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