Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Outbreak (04/07/11)
TITLE: I hate coconut!
By Carole Robishaw
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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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