Saturday, July 9, 2011

Difficult Decisions

The call came from my son just as Mom and I walked into the pharmacy to purchase more bandages. She had another skin cancer surgery on on Wednesday.

The good news is that it was basil cell. The bad news is that the Mohs surgery took three rounds to get all the cancer, and when they were done the surgeon needed to remove part of her ear lobe to do a skin graft, replacing part of the ear he had needed to remove. It was a painful process, leaving her swollen and unable to wear her hearing aid in the only ear with any hearing.

It needs to be cleaned and re-bandaged twice a day. I've never seen her so needy. I'm used to her being strong and opinionated, independent. My heart is with the kids and grandkids. This was their last day at the beach. When Ben called to invite us to the beach I told him the truth, as far as it went. John didn't want to get back in the sun today. He would prefer to go after the worst heat of the day was past. Could we head out there around sunset? No, they'd be putting the kids down right after dinner, since they were leaving the beach in the morning.

Mom had already asked me to take her to Bingo today to see her friends—a little sympathy, a little fun, she said. My step-father has severe dementia and this was one of the days the bus took him to the adult day care program to give her (and other care givers) a breather from their difficult routines. She wanted to make the most of it. I waited hours before agreeing. The next three hours were already promised. My heart was torn. I have so little time with these sweet grandchildren, but how much do I have left with my mother? She turned 90 in December. There was no decision to make.

Ben will call me when they get back to town from the beach. Mom's already talking about Saturday bingo. Her John will have to go along, so if my John (my mother, sister and I all married men named John, so it sometimes gets confusing) and I come along, they can play pool together while we play bingo. Four hours is all she's asking from my day, counting travel time. Will it work out? I'll have to hope Ben calls early and invites us over early or late, rather than in the afternoon. Children nap in the afternoon, right? That's what Mom said, hopefully suggesting just one more day at bingo together at the senior center in town.

I've often thought of the quandary I'd be in if given the choice between an out of mind and an out of body experience. If I could be in two places at once, it would be so much easier. Since it's not my choice, I guess an out of mind experience will have to do me. It'll last longer, anyway.

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