My wonderful mother, Peggy, age 55 (going on 21) passed from the earth to the heavens on April 25, 1999...3 days after my 34th birthday. The news shattered me, as she had an aneurysm on April 19,1999 (my 13th wedding anniversary). She was the center of my 4 children's admiration, and they hers. I talked to her the day before it happened, she was as full of life and happiness as ever. I live on the West coast, she in her small southern Indiana town I still think of as home.
As I made frantic arrangements to fly back, I felt shocked, numb and suffered from dizziness and tunnel vision. It was too soon! Knowing the word "aneurysm" and "death", when it involves the brain, to be almost synonymous, I choked back fear, but could not escape the obvious.
She had been taking swimming lessons to conquer her childhood fear of water, when she "felt a pop" and instantly got sick. My father, and her "hunkadoodle" of 41 years (yes, they were high school sweethearts) rushed her to the hospital. She was conscious, even saying, "I think I have had an aneurysm." Well, yes she did have one. It was small. She was taken to Baptist Hospital East in Louisville, Kentucky. She had surgery to clamp off the aneurysm, and it "went as well as could be expected."
I left for the airport, clutching a Birthday card I had received that very day from her, with her precious writing on the envelope. I arrived after a red-eye flight and was quite relieved to find her alive. My dear sweet mother was in ICU, she was swollen and heavily sedated. My goodness though, how beautiful she was to me. Her soul was shining through the battle she had been through. Memories flooded my mind, and above all, I felt blessed by the almighty to have her as my Mom.
For three days, I talked with her as she drifted in and out of consciousness. Fearing the worst, hoping for the best. I left her Friday, April 23rd at 10:30 p.m. or so. We had sang church songs and shared bits of conversation. She knew I was there. As I would talk, thinking maybe she could not hear, I would ask, "Mom, squeeze my hand if you can hear me." The grip would be instant and strong from her right hand. She was now paralyzed on the left side, possibly from swelling, possibly from a stroke as a result of "vasospasms". She looked me and in the eyes and told me "goodnight" and "I love you too sweetie". I could see the love in her eyes. My father kissed her, she puckered in anticipation. It was beautiful.
Though I denied it at the time, I saw the look of a person who knew it was over as we left. Words cannot describe it, I won't even try. She took "a turn for the worst" that night and we were called several hours later by the hospital. I was wailing as we headed over there. Now listen to me, It hit me on the way to the hospital, I felt a rush or surge of energy from a presence greater than man about 10 minutes into our commute to the hospital. An o-v-e-r-w-h-e-l-m-i-n-g calmness fulfilled me and I could hear her say, "be strong and know that I am in spirit, there is nothing to fear" I turned to my dear wife and told her mom was gone, but she's ok.
She was brain-dead and on a breathing machine when we arrived. For people who have seen this, you know of what I speak of, I believe her soul was already soaring. I could tell by looking at her that the shell of her body was all that remained. She remained on a breathing machine until the morning of the 25th, when it was removed. I don't mind saying that was the longest period of my life, knowing she was going to die.
Some 30 friends and close life long friends were in the room. I held her warm hands for most of the night before, gracious for the gift she had given me. She passed away very peacefully. Some very personal things happened as this was happening, too overwhelming for me to discuss at this point.
Mom died as a result of a stroke after the surgery, caused from the vasospasms. Her brain would swell up, causing more restricted blood-flow which in turn would cause more swelling. It kept compounding. My Mom was always a "Tough Cookie" and a fighter, and I know that this was not preventable. The very capable Doctors thought she had had the weak-spot in her vessel since birth and it was "its time to burst".
I buried my mother with great memories. Tragedy has a way of bringing out the best of the human spirit, and the best I did see. Family, friends and acts of kindness are what matters most in this world. Cherish and enjoy them. death comes to us all, some sooner, some later. We will not be remembered by our material richness, only for what we stood for.
I met a survivor of a brain aneurysm at my mom's funeral. She shared her story and I embraced her, thankful that things had worked out for her. I cry often, however, it could have been worse. She didn't know she had this in her brain before it happened, she didn't suffer for months on end, she had the energy and zest for life of a teenager, she was loved (and loved many).
My heartfelt appreciation to those who serve in the medical profession. They have saved many, and will save many more. In the case of Mom, it was not to be.
Never give up the hope and never give up the fight no matter what though. I have faith I will see her again. For my day will come, as will it come for us all.
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