My mother died today at 7:45 a.m. I had just come home from the hospital; I'd stayed with her from 10 p.m. until just past 7 a.m., when my retired physician dad came to her room, took one look at her and shooed me away.

She didn't seem nearly as sick last night as she was the night before. Last night, she seemed stronger; I honestly thought she'd live another day.

Night before last, I stayed with her from 9 p.m. 'til 6 a.m., and she horrifyingly sick. Her blood wouldn't clot; she had an awful nosebleed that wouldn't stop and slowly filled her lungs with blood, she was bleeding from the dialysis port in her neck, bleeding from the places they'd stuck her to take blood, bleeding internally.

I came home with my mom's blood in my hair, and discovered my silly little badger piece had been Slashdotted. Totally surreal, but it lifted my spirits nonetheless. After watching my mom all night, listening to the suffocating gurgle in her chest, watching her pain as they suctioned bloody gunk out of her, watching them change her linens and gown five freaking times because she couldn't stop bleeding ... being flamed by Slashdotters was hilarious. I got a good giggle out of the whole thing, which I needed.

Not much laughter today. My parent's old tomcat, Roscoe, started howling around 4 a.m. and hasn't really let up. Somehow he knew momma wasn't coming back.

What killed her? The cancer, ultimately; it was inoperable, and chemo failed her. But last week she caught cryptosporidium, and we wasted precious days thinking it was just nausea from the chemo or the tumors. She was severely dehydrated when we got her to the ER at 4 a.m. Saturday. She was starving, and we couldn't get her to eat anything. Then her kidneys started failing. Then the bleeding. And last night, she developed pneumonia.

She fought it, hard, for five long days. But there was just too much wrong with her.

I feel simultaneously relieved and cheated that I wasn't there when she died.

Services here in San Angelo on Saturday, but she wants her ashes buried in Townsville in South Carolina. She was always my connection to the distant relatives back East; maybe I can make connections of my own, finally.

I am going to miss her so fucking much. She was a great person, a sweet old Southern lady who had a kind word for everyone but who would take on the Devil himself for what she belived in.

Random facts about my mom:

  • She was a very good amateur tennis player, even though she didn't learn how until she was in her 30s. When she was in her early 40s, she was actually nationally-seeded.

  • She loved opera and theater and the arts

  • She used to be an amateur actress, but that was long ago. I wished I had gotten to see her in a play

  • Her father died at the age of 21, before she was even born. Her 19-year-old mother gave her to her dead husband's family to raise, and my mother grew up in the rural South in the middle of the Great Depression.

  • She worked for over 40 years for the Social Security Administration, and worked very hard to help people, often putting in 10 or more hours of unpaid overtime a week. Having worked for the gummint myself, I am amazed she kept up that kind of dedication for so long.

  • She was a direct descendant of Andrew Pickens, who was roughly the basis for Mel Gibson's character in The Patriot.

  • She was incredibly supportive of my desire to become a writer, and I'm sad I couldn't get a book published in time for her to see.

  • She really wanted grandkids, would have made an awesome grandmother, and I'm heartbroken I didn't have the wherewithal get her any.

Rest in peace, ma.

Good Friday Update

I've been overwhelmed by the messages I've gotten from Everythingians -- you guys are great.

Some have commented that she sounds like she was a very kind person -- she was. If you've ever watched "Courage the Cowardly Dog", Muriel and Eustace are like a cartoon version of my folks. My dad is less like Eustace (picture him intellectual and artistic and way less evil) but my mom was very much like Muriel.