Zone 1. This zone tells ’My Story’ of caring for my mother.
In the spring of 2003, my mother, Mary T. Anastasi, began to suffer from symptoms of primary biliary cirrhosis. She had been told she had the disease over 10 years earlier, but had not shown symptoms of that disease.
“Primary biliary cirrhosis is the irritation and swelling (inflammation) of the bile ducts of the liver, which blocks the flow of bile . This obstruction damages liver cells.”(1)
The cause of the disease is unknown. The only cure is a liver transplant. Otherwise, the best that traditional medical medicine offers are prescriptions to reduce the pain.
He Closed the Book…
He closed the book, placed it on the table, and finally, decided to walk through the door. The book was one of a two volume set that gave him comfort while he cared for his mother dying of liver disease.
As he reached for the door knob, he looked back. His eyes fell, once again, on his mother in a coma. He saw the barely noticeable rising of her chest as she struggled for her next breath. He heard the sound of the air caught at the back of her throat as it rattled the substances stuck there. Lying there on her back, eyes closed, seemingly at peace –that was the scene Richard captured of his mother the evening before she died.
His next thought was where would he stop for dinner. Should he walk down First Avenue to Simone’s or take the bus home and make dinner? Even if the friendly bar tender wasn’t there, it would do him good to eat surrounded by the conversation of others.
He felt guilty that he could not bear to spend another moment in that room waiting for his mother to die. It was all that he could do to sit there and read, and sometimes to pray. It was hard to just be there, being there with nothing left to do for his mother, nothing left to say.
He wanted to be there for her as she had been there for him. So many times as a child, his mother wiped the dirt, the hurt, or the tears from his cheeks, sometimes with a damp wash cloth, and sometimes with spit and a finger. Why couldn’t he stay with his mother for one more hour, one more minute? He had nowhere to be, no wife, no children to care for…just an empty apartment to return to. It was his mother’s apartment, the same apartment where he had lived most of his adolescence and some of his adulthood until he could afford to move out on his own.
No, he wouldn’t go back there tonight – at least not right away. Tonight was not a night for him to be alone with his thoughts.
Then he noticed the book on the table. For almost 11 months, that book and its companion had accompanied him on his journey of care giving. He started to go back for it but remembered he had finished reading it just moments ago.
Richard couldn’t remain in the hospice room any longer. Quietly, he closed the door.
By Richard J Anastasi copyright © 4-3-2012