Tuesday, August 28, 2012

My Mom

It is useless to keep on pretending that everything is the same as it used to be. Something has changed dramatically already and will remain changed forever. Our family will never be the same as it was. My Mom's heart has been huge all her life. It has always been selfless, generous, considerate, loving beyodn what words can say--but we're talking about her heart in the sense of her soul, the soul of a true saint. On the contrary, her earthly heart, that muscle that is supposed to pump blood back and forth around the physical body, is too weak, too tired ,and is giving up--and there is nothing that medicine can do about it.

The gates of Heaven will be wide open to greet her--but here neither Catherine nor Gerard and Warren nor I are  prepared to see her take that flight up to the eternity. We simply cannot imagine celebrating Christmas, Easter, or Thanksgiving without my Mom at the table or opening presents by the tree. She will be always with us, taking our slightest needs and wishes up to the Lord--but we won't be able to see her, hug her, kiss her, listen to her voice. She's always been the shoulder on which to cry, the arms of comfort that we'd get around when in need of comfort or hope, the words of praise, encouragement, or consolation that we were eager to hear, the spiritual warfare to protect us whenever any evil had to be fought.

Moreover, within that loving, tender personality, she also had the enormous courage to go to the extreme of putting her life on the line to save a boy she had never seen before. One hot summer day many years ago, with no other weapon that her valiant heart, she faced a depraved-looking man with bloodshot eyes and a knife in his hand who wanted to kidnap a child. Assuming that such little boy grew up to become a father and grandfather, even if he does not clearly recall that day long ago, wherever he is today, he owes his life to my Mom. 

When her heart was strong to have tolerated those operations, my Mom voluntarily refused to get the knee replacement and cataracts surgeries that would have saved her mobility and eyesight. She deemed the international adoption expenses, first from Haiti and then from Bulgaria, with the two failed ones from Russia and Uzbekistan in between, to be more important than her vision and the use of her legs. Even after finding herself almost blind and in a wheelchair, she never had any regrets.

Even back then she could have had Medicare. Yet, not having the necessary work quarters in U.S., it wouldn't have been at no charge. She did have the funds to pay for those monthly premiums, or to have paid for those surgeries out of pocket, but, once again, she preferred to have more grandkids in the home than being able to walk and see. Ironically, currently she does have the entitlement to free Medicare--but her heart is too weak for anything now--even too weak to keep on going any more. Earthly life is slipping away from her. She's been a true saint all her life, and there is no doubt that she will keep on checking every moment uopon us from the eternal dwelling--the same as even now, no matter how very badly she fees, she still sometimes wakes up in the middle of the night--and her first thought is to check to make sure I didn't fall down from my computer chair and am bleeding to death with head trauma on the kitchen floor. She has always reminded us to take a coat because it might get cool after dark. She would always look at the time and remind us to leave well in advance in order not to be late--with no need to speed on the freeway. When it was only a few minutes later than it should have taken us to be back home from wherever we were, she would call in order to be at ease that we were O.K.

Catherine, Gerard, and Warren completely refuse to accept the reality that Grandma is about to take that ultimate flight up to Heaven any moment now. Her body is getting weaker and weaker. Her absolutely selfless soul is desperately engaged in her last earthly act of love. Her debilitated physique is holding on, trying to shout out to us that we need to be prepared, trying to somehow ease the pain of the good-bye for us, trying to give us the time to process the information we have in front of our eyes--and yet we refuse to see.

Just two days ago Catherine called from work to ask how Grandma was doing. I told her that after having some ice cream she seemed to feel a little better--and Catherine's immediate concern was what we'd do in winter, when she won't be able to have ice cream due to the cold. I didn't dare say anything--but I'm conscious that there won't be such a dilemma. It won't be really cold within the next couple of weeks--and after that there is no such thing as being cold in the eternity. Yet, Catherine stilll expects her to be at the Chritmas table. . . and she will be with us for sure, even if our eyes won't be able to see her. 

My Mom is also providing me with an excuse to justify if Thomas, Nicholas, or Stephen does not react the way I expect when the moment arrives. Once I was shown a documentary in which a mother who had adopted a very large sibling group had felt betrayed when the children didn't show as much sorrow as she expected when their grandmother passed away. It was a mandatory adoption training seminar, and in the discussion that ensued I criticized the mother in the video because the children could not be expected to love with all their hearts a grandmother who may have sent them some presents but who was not there to greet them, who didn't get startled every time one of them fell down, who didn't mind risking contagion from a MRSA infection. It had not been a grandmother who had deemed the children more important than her own mobility and eyesight. 

I'm not saying that my younger sons won't suffer. I'm sure they will. Besides, seeing their Grnadma decline, make an effort to talk, and grasp for air is preparing them for what is about to come.

My real concern is the beginning of college for Gerard and Warren, and Catherine's promotion to the position of lead therapist at the agency where she works with special kids--and she does have a very special place in eher heart for special kids.  Financially the promotion won't mean much--but it's at least some well-deserved recognition and an important career move--and she needs to be able to perform efficiently.

The other day in the mornign she was very late and left by the lower storey (the house is split-level), with no time to come upstairs and kiss her Grandma before going to work. She appeared at home in the middle of the day--only to kiss her Grandmother. While switching from office to field work, she had decided to stop by home and show her Grandma one more time how infinitely loved she is.

I'm really concerned about how the twins will react. One single semester with lower grades due to bereavement can be fatal from the perspective of future medical school admission--and that's what they want since the age of five. They want to be pediatricians, like their late dad, who died prematurely in a car accident. Gerard wants to be a general pediatrician, like him, and Warren leans towards pediatric neurology--but they want to make it through medical school together and have their practices together.  A very moving, touching, heartwarming little anecdote is that during the process of deciding our move from San Diego to RI, the twins faked a much greater enthusiasm for the colleges and medical schools on the east coast as opposed to UCSD in La Jolla, CA. They were the most enthusiastic proponents of our out-of-state move--only because they wanted to speed up the homecoming of Maximilian and Philip. After we were already permanently settled in RI they finally disclosed that had they been through the U.C. transfer system, they would have used their 20-soemthing junior college credits they had been accummulating since the age of 10, could have made it into college without taking their ACT's, and , most importantly, would have had priority for medical school admission later on, without all the fierce, ferocious competition they'll have to face here. Considering that neither one of them won't accept admission without his brother, the admission process will be twice as challenging.

This early exposure to so much suffering is far from being what they need at this moment. The beginning of college is supposed to be a time of excitement--not one of tears.  As their counselor, in their Common App for college admission I said that at the age of 14, as they had not turned 15 yet then, they had already been C.N.A.'s, O.T. assistants, P.T. assistants, speech pathology assistants, homework tutors, childcare workers, and child development specialists for their younger brothers, technical support and computer graphics specialists for me, and problem solvers every time--no matter what the problem would be. 

I'm getting off topic. There is no way to pretend any longer. We can't delay the pain. It's happening.

Update. As of this morning, 08/28/12, she entered into a comma. If you want to say a prayer, her name is Nydia Soracco-Godone--a true saint.


Nancy said...

Praying for her. Praying for your family. It breaks my heart and I have never met your mom, through your words, I know her beauty.

Linda said...

Dear Lillian,
I am so sorry for the inevitable loss of your mom. I don't know you well, but even casual aquaintences know of your deep love and committment to her. She sounds like an amazing woman and I'm sure her life has made a huge impact on all.
Hugs to you, Linda from Dream Bulgaria

eliz said...

Oh Lillian, I just saw this. We are praying for all of you and your very precious mother. You wrote this so beautifully. I am in tears now. The love you have for your mother is beyond precious. (((HUGS))) Elizabeth


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