Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Love happens when you least expect it

My Mom doesn’t like for me to worry, so when I got the call from her I knew it was worse than she made it out to be. She has suffered with severe migraine headaches her entire life and rarely complains.
"I woke up with a severe pain in my neck a few days ago and it is getting worse.  It really hurts.  I had the neighbor take me to the emergency room and they did some tests which didn't show much.  It is probably a pinched nerve." She said.
We live a four hour drive apart.  Hearing that she called the neighbor to take her to the emergency room tugged at my heart strings.  I wanted to be there for her.  I hated knowing she was alone and that she waited until after the fact to tell me. 
My Mom and I have a very close relationship.  She divorced my Dad when I was a baby and raised me as a single mom.  I would see my Dad every other weekend, but for the most part it was her and I.  She is an only child and I am her only child.  Fifteen years after divorcing my Dad she remarried a wonderful, loving man whom she adored.  Tragically after two years of marriage, he passed away in a horrific car accident.  My greatest wish for her was to find love again. 
For the past five years, she has been living and caring for my Nonie (grandmother) who suffers from Alzheimer's disease.   She does this while still working an 8-5pm job.  She has little time for relaxing let a alone trying to date. 
"I called in sick to work," She said, "It is getting worse."
I instantly went into crisis mode.   I prepared myself for the worse.  It was Tuesday and I didn't plan on heading to town until Friday.  I figured I should try and spread out my work vacation days, since I didn't know what I was dealing with yet.
I had her dictate her insurance information over the phone to me, and I began my quest to make doctors appointments for her. I'm not an organized person but knew this was a time I needed to get my shit together.  My first instinct was to get her into see an Orthopedist, specifically a spine surgeon.  I called a retired orthopedist I happened to know in the area.  He graciously made a few phone favors to fellow orthopedists and got her into see an orthopedist that day.  Having little to no family, I reached out to my friends, many who I consider family. 
It was a Tuesday so my options were limited with who to call on such short notice and who wouldn't be working an 8-5pm job.  My dear friend Sam rose to the occasion and headed over to chauffeur Mom to her appointment.  She called me after dropping my Mom back off at home to give me a run down on the appointment.
"She really isn't feeling well.  She had a hard time opening the car door, and I filled out all of her paper work for her.  Both of her hands are swollen.  I think you need to come to town as soon as you can." Sam said.
Until this point I had no knowledge of swelling in her hands.  I thought it was just her neck.
The orthopedist ordered an MRI, but agreed it was probably a pinched nerve.  He gave her something for the pain. 
I drove down to town, telling Husband to stay back this time.  Had I known what I was about to walk into, I would have made sure he was with me.  The house was a mess.  Mom lay on the couch with her arms prepped up.  She had a hard time speaking.  She hadn't showered in days and wore pajamas, the same pajamas for days.
Nonie lay in bed still asleep from the night before.  It was 6pm.  I tried easing her out of a sleep with no luck.  After a few shakes and loud yells she awoke.  I escorted her out of bed, realizing how weak she was.  She had a hard time walking and mumbled, but no longer able to speak words.  This was a significant decline since the last time I had seen her a month earlier.  The Alzheimer's had reached what appeared to be its final stages.  This caught me totally of guard.  I expected Mom's illness, but not the drastic decline in Nonie's. 
"I'm so glad you are here," Mom said, reaching for my hand. 
I officially went into full blown crisis mode.  No time for tears and worrying, but time to make things happen. I'm a pro in crisis.  Everyday life often stumps me, but during crisis I am a superhero.
Mom was my first priority.  I wanted to make her as comfortable as possible while I was able to be there.  Her body wouldn't allow her to do the everyday things like holding a fork to feed herself without assistance.  I came up with a plan, enlisting friends to help while I traveled back and forth to help.  This went on for weeks while we searched for an accurate diagnosis.  We went from one specialist to another, getting no answers and no pain relief for Mom. Friends kindly transported Mom to and from doctors visits, brought over meals, and helped out in whatever way we needed.  However, one day I found myself desperately trying to find someone last minute to pick my Mom up from the hospital after a day of testings.  She was weak, and drugged.  It was 2:30pm in the afternoon on a weekday and I was running out of options.  There are only so many favors I felt comfortable asking friends for and felt like I was running out of people to call.  In a moment of desperation I called John, my BiologicalMaternalGrandfather.  He jumped at the opportunity to help us out.  He was retired and lived right down the street from the medical center. 
"Mom, this might be really uncomfortable.  John, my BiologicalMaternalGrandfather is picking you up.  He is a short, bald man and will be driving a red mini-van.  I promise he will be super nice," I told her.
She was so out of it I hardly got a reaction from her.  John called me after dropping Mom off.
"Mom is safetly at home.  Is it okay with you if I bring them dinner?  I want to help in anyway I can," He said.
I felt like I had hit the jackpot.  Of course I would accept his help and I didn't feel bad asking him knowing he was retired and widowed.  After this round of testing we finally got answers.  Mom has Scleroderma, a disease that causes tightening of the skin making it difficult if nearly impossible to move without proper treatment.  After the diagnosis (phew! not cancer!), treatment started and she was feeling better within a week.
Two months after getting a diagnosis, I got a call from Mom on a Sunday afternoon.
"I have something to tell you.  I've fallen in love and I am getting married.  I am very happy," Mom said.
"What? I didn't even know you were dating anyone.  How have you even had time?  Wait...what?  Seriously, who is it?" I ask very confused.
"John," She said.
And there it was.  I started laughing hysterically not knowing how else to react.  Could this really be happening?  My Mom marrying my BiologicalMaternalGrandfather?  They are only 5 years apart in age, so it isn't that far of a stretch.
"That is wonderful Mom! I am so happy you both found someone.  It is just really crazy, weird," I said.
"Really, are you okay with this?" She asked.
"Of course! Just know that I am going to tell everyone I know." I said.  And since that day, I have done just that. 


  1. What a beautiful story!!

    Your mom is stunning. It doesn't surprise me that he fell for her.

    Now I'm all full of mushy, lovey feelings. Awww.

  2. Wow, great story. Glad to hear they were able to find the cause and treat it.

    The fact that you had friends willing to help so much speaks volumes about your character. On the other side, if you had any more friends, they may never have met! =P

  3. What a great story.
    Losing someone to Alzheimer's is a different kind of loss all on it's own.

    You're a hero to me.

  4. Oh my gosh, what a great story!!

  5. So glad it had a happy ending, I was fearing the worst after the first paragraph.

  6. You had me crying!!!! and then I read on and what a wonderful ending. I am glad you found out what was going on with your mom.. your relationship is beautiful. It is obvious from your support circle that you have a good heart. How is your grandmother doing? Alzheimer's is such a terrible disease. Keeping you all in my thoughts..