Going upstate to see the family was different this weekend.
My mom fell in and needed to be taken to hospital in an ambulance, or as I call it per Law & Order, 'the bus.' I called my brothers to join me at the hospital, which they and their wives did unselfishly for six hours.
After minimal treatment and discharge papers, Mom came home, and I am thrilled to announce she is indeed fine.
More water, more leg elevation and follow ups NOT including a cardiologist, just her PCP.
While waiting for the ambulance to come, which it did in ten minutes, I found myself asking, "...is this how it ends ? ...is this what it's like ? "
I had a few quiet moments wondering if it was her time to go, and if I had really thought about it. Life with out my mom; her sage, her experience, he input, (welcome or not), her unfaltering love, her neurosis about locking doors, turning off lights and for the love of God taking the tea kettle off the stove.
Was I ready, or had I thought about not hearing one of her Uncle George stories, her Cuba-while-Dad-was-in-the-service stories ? All this rushed through my head as I waited with her, looking at her pallor, feeling a strong, but slow pulse, and eliciting responses that took a long time to come.
But they came.
The Med technicians came.
The oxygen came.
And then she answered the questions.
Dismissed going to the hospital and announced she had to use the lou.
It wasn't her time to go.
Not on Sunday.
Not with the Jets in the quarter finals.
Not in the middle of winter where she can still see the fleeting colors of birds.
Not before her garden was abloom with perennials and what ever other annuals I could sneak in.
It wasn't her time to go, but, just as some innocence had been lost when I was diagnosed and treated for cancer, a little more of that wide eyed wonder ebbed away over the long weekend as I took the role of advocate for my mom's care in a strange place where she couldn't see all the different people around her and couldn't hear what was being said about and for her.
I did things and answered questions that adult children have to do for their elderly parent/s. I assumed the role of caregiver without hesitation, but with the stark realization that this is what is necessary now.
This is one of those benchmarks that I am both lucky to have, in that my mom has lived to be nearly 85; and that I, along with my siblings, are responsible to have - to take care of the woman who has always taken care of us, from near or far; sometimes very far, indeed.
So I go to bed tonight in my Manhattan apartment knowing she is as well as she was last week, with support all around. I am truly not worried, but more aware of what I have had for a long time and what I will lose when she is gone. But until then, we banter on the phone, cheer for the red team, discuss food - now we are going gluten free, and giggle about cats and birds and chipmunks and farm markets.
I don't know how long she has. I don't know how long anyone has - I don't know what I am having for breakfast, but, I do know that I am the woman I am today because she taught me more than how to make a perfect pie crust and how to cut and sew a pattern; she taught me to be my own person in the face of adversity and, "to thine own self be true."
The Betty - she really is something else.