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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Outbreak (04/07/11)

TITLE: I hate coconut!
By Carole Robishaw


I just finished reading a bloggers memories of the lamb Easter cake his mom always made, with a black jelly bean nose and coconut "fur" and green coconut grass. It sounded just like the cake my mom used to make. And the tears won't stop.

Mom had a stroke in 1990 and spent the rest of her life in a nursing home. Her vocabulary was usually limited to one word, "Home."

Home was used to say anything she needed to tell us, ranging from "I'm cold" to "I want to go to bed." Everything was "home home home home." She used different intonations, so you knew whether it was a statement or a question, or if she was telling you off! Between that and lots of pointing and head shaking she got her point across eventually.

Mom spent 15 years in that nursing home. It was a very long 15 years for me, but I think it was very short for her. She no longer had any short term memory, so whenever I came up from Texas to Ohio to visit her, it didn't matter if I stayed an hour or was there for two weeks, every time I walked into the room, it was as if she hadn't seen me in ages.

But yet she was aware that she had greatgrandkids, and when we talked about them, either in person or on the phone, she would coo and carry on over them. That was usually when she was actually able to talk, she would ask questions about them and we would laugh and talk, then she would get all excited and her speech would be gone again. Then we would be back to long sentences of "Home home home" again.

At some point during those 15 years I think I must have done my grieving for the mom I had lost, because I was never really able to accept that this woman in the wheel chair, who couldn't even comb her hair and was forced to wear diapers, was my mother. I had several discussions with God during those years. Angry discussions. Painful discussions. Discussions I don't really want to remember. And then, finally, her health took a strong turn downhill. There had been many episodes during those years of kidney stone attacks and other problems that develop from living under the conditions she was in, but now we realized the end was near.

Mom started having strokes. Most of them were small, and didn't make much of a change, individually, but the accumulative effect was obvious. She could no longer speak at all, and she didn't leave her bed any more.

Hospice became a part of our lives. I flew to Ohio, as we thought the big one had finally happened, but she survived, and I had to return to Texas and my job. A few weeks later she did have the last one. It was finally over, and she was now "Home" where she was free to frolic and sing and talk as much as she wanted.

Her funeral service was more of a memorial service. Several of us shared memories, one comment we all made was about how she was such a great cook. Every time somebody said that, Uncle Bud, mom's brother, would chuckle. When I closed the service, I intentionally repeated the comment of what a good cook was, and then added "she was pretty good in the kitchen, too." Then everybody got the joke. You see, mom's maiden name was Cook!

I wasn't able to cry, and I didn't understand it. I finally convinced myself that I had already cried all the tears I had for her. I had already said goodbye to who she was, this was just a send off for her body, not for her.

It has been seven years since mom died. Occasionally a tear or two comes when something happens that reminds me of her, but nothing like the outbreak I'm struggling through now. Suddenly I'm missing her like I never have before. Suddenly I have the crazy desire to bake a white lamb cake and cover it with coconut. I hate coconut, I never even have it in the house, but I want to bake that lamb cake. With a black jelly bean nose, pink jelly beans for eyes, and that awful green cellophane grass for a bed on the platter.

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This article has been read 524 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Patricia Protzman04/14/11
Enjoyed this piece-great writing. Descriptive and emotionally stimulating.
Sydney Avey04/14/11
How poignant, your mom's yearning for home. I'm sure many people can identify with your experience; I know I can.
Joe Moreland04/16/11
Incredible. I love this piece. Having gone thru something amazingly similar with the woman who raised me, I identified with many of the details and you captured the feeling of relating to someone who has lost the core of who they once were very well. Thanks for writing this piece for me.
Verna Cole Mitchell 04/16/11
You constructed this touching story excellently. In spite of beings sad, it's a wonderful story.
Carol Penhorwood 04/18/11
This touched me on many levels. It is so hard to watch our loved ones go through so much. There is no time limit on grief.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 04/18/11
This is A beautiful tribute to A wonderful mother. I've heard many people whose parents had Alzheimers say they feet like the mom they knew died a long time before. You also gave me the chance to grieve my mother. This is a beautiful well-written piece.
Cris Cramer04/19/11
Powerful story; thank you for sharing it.
Edy T Johnson 04/19/11
You moved me to tears. You write so well, I can experience your mom and your emotions along with you, perhaps because it brings back similar memories for me, too. Those tears do show up when least expected. Your ending was perfect. Thank you!
Helen Curtis04/19/11
This is so moving, so deeply personal, and so very well written. Thank you for sharing your story with us.
Leola Ogle 04/19/11
Such a sweet, tender story. Thanks for sharing! God bless!
Noel Mitaxa 04/20/11
I love the scope of the emotions you have identified and taken us through here: from heartache to hope and humour. Beautifully woven with honesty and faith.
Gwen Plauche04/20/11
Your emotions were so well captured in word in this personal story of grief and dying. I lost my mother 19 years ago. Although a different scenario, the loss of a mother is usually very emtional for years, especially when the coconut cake appears. Thank you for sharing this!
Debra Hindman04/27/11
Carole, what a gift, for your mom's one word to be "home." Everything she cherished was in her expression of that word. You related to her spirit to spirit and in the end, sometimes that is all that we can count on. Great telling of a heart-felt story. Thank you.