Posted in A Mother's Grief, Bereavement, Death, Death of a child, Grief, Vicky Bruce

What am I doing?


This is one of the most heart wrenching posts I have read in a long time.  I read a lot of blogs written by grieving mothers.  Why did this post affect me to this extent?   I don’t know.  Maybe because this mother’s grief feels as real as my own grief.  Maybe it is because I am doing the same.  Writing and desperately trying to keep my Vic alive…hugs and tears Gatito.

My Bright Shining Star

What am I doing Kaitlyn? What am I trying to do by my endless blogs about you, the photo albums, the posts on Facebook, the printed out version of my blog, the printed out comments by your friends after you died on your Facebook, in my private messages and by email, the posts I made on Student Doctor Network warning them of what could so easily happen if they don’t heed the warning within them of depression, for posting about you In the off topic sections of forums I belong to that are about motorcycles, RVing, and cats. Posting on suicide survivor forums. Posting every video and song that remotely has to do with what you were and I am going through. Making DVD slides of you. Going through all you music CDs, going through all your recent things, old things, things I put up long ago, things that are…

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Posted in A Mother's Grief, Angels, Bereavement, Death, Death of a child, Grief

We whisper your name…


Some days I sense Vic’s closeness. I sometimes smell her. But I cannot touch her. I cannot hear her voice.

The boys and I light candles for you my precious baby…

We whisper your name

The boys write your name in the sand…

You send us feathers from Heaven….

How we miss your brave smile…

How I miss reaching out and being able to touch you

Holding you my precious child…

Yesterday, today, forever……

I love you Angel Child!

Posted in A Mother's Grief, Death, Death of a child, Family, Family Life, Terminal Illness

A Mother’s Love for her Sons


A year ago I posted this.  As I said in my previous post – Chaka’s 2012 is a separate story.  I am reposting the separate story…

I have been researching the effect of a mother’s illness on her children.  The boys are two beautiful, well-adjusted, honest and compassionate young men.  Vic’s illness has certainly deprived them of a childhood in the true sense of the word and prematurely matured them into compassionate, caring, young men far too early in life.  At the tender age of thirteen Jared was cooking for the family…  This must certainly have an effect on how the boys perceive relationships with people.

Now according to my research the boys have become what is called ‘parentified’ children. These children solve the problem of sick and inadequate parenting by taking care of their

parents. They in effect become     parents to their parents, giving to the sick parent what they need from the parent. Now the roles are reversed. This seemingly creative solution is unfortunately too self-sacrificing to be healthy in the long run.

“‘Parentified’ sons who take care of their sick mothers in order to cope with their inability to parent, struggle to suppress obvious needs for love and feelings of loss. They learn to work hard taking care of the needs of others and living off of the scraps that come in the form of reinforcements for their competence and reliability. Their needs for love are overlooked and overshadowed by everyone else’s needs.”  The boys, especially Jared, falls into this category 100%.  When his little girlfriend was hit in the eye by a hockey ball, he immediately went into caregiving mode,  At the time I thought it to be extremely unhealthy that he already has this caregiving character trait.  He used to always make the tea and offer to do so much around the house and for his Mom.

I have put a stop to this.  I pray it is not too late for the boys to adjust to a “normal” household…

It is however important for them to realize that death is a part of the circle of life and that it is not something dark and something to be feared but rather, if happening in a timely fashion, something that one can embrace. The boys appreciate and respect Vic as their mother.   Vic has raised her sons to be respectful.

“The power of a mother’s strength comes from her heart, from her unabashed, unconditional, and unwavering love for her child. There is, as J.K. Rowling wrote in her Harry Potter books, a magic in that love. No matter what happens, a mother is always there for her child. A mother’s love is never to be questioned, and – though she may not know it at first – neither is her strength.”

Vic literally rose from her deathbed to be there for Jared with his operation on Wednesday.  When my Mom died I related her final moments to someone jumping from a diving board into a deep pool, reaching the bottom and kicking to rise to the surface of the water for one more breath… only to sink again.  This is what Vic does.

Before Jared was wheeled into theatre he whispered into his mom’s ear.  She took his hand and said “I promise”.

Vic, drip in hand, walking with Jared to theater!

The surgeon said the operation would last two hours.  Vic dutifully went back to bed and rested.  One hour and forty-five minutes later she was, IV drip in hand, standing outside the theatre door, waiting for her son.  I begged her to at least sit on the chair, but she refused.  “Mommy, I promised Jared my face would be the first thing he sees when he comes out of theatre!”

It took a superhuman effort, but Vic’s love for her son drove her to keep her word.  It is true that no mother wants her child to suffer in any way, but life is unfair like that. So, we as mother’s do what we can to provide support, comfort, and protection. And we grow strong enough to bear their hurt as well as our own.  As Vic did.  As I do. Motherhood cuts deeply, brings you to your knees most days; but it also brings a strength that may surprise you.

The vicious cycle of anger truly rose to the occasions on Wednesday.  I got angry with Vic because she was not putting her health first!  I KNOW I would have done the same but it was terrible seeing my child do herself harm to be a Mother.  I want to wrap her in cotton so she would be spared that extra day…

Yesterday Vic said she doubted whether she would see the end of the year.  She is however adamant to be at Jared’s confirmation…one more goal…

Go Girl!!!

Well, Vic is home.  I am so grateful.  She is conceding that she is too sore and ill to go to hospital…Saturday Jared comes home!!

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Posted in Angels, Bereavement, Family, Family Life, Vicky Bruce

Happy Father’s Day…


When I started thinking about Father’s Day this year I just became so depressed.  I felt that I don’t have any reason to celebrate Father’s Day tomorrow.  Today, I was going through Vic’s photos when I realized that it is not true!

My Dad died on the 21st of May 2011 and Vic’s father died on the 5th of November 1999.

Vic and her Gramps 1.4.2011
Vic and her Gramps 1.4.2011

I was single for most of Vic’s young life.  For most of her little life my Dad was her Dad.  Her Gramps taught her how to play cards and have a night cap….When Gramps had a nightcap he had to mix her a “drink” that had the exact same colouring as his…  They adored one another.

Just about the only thing my dad never forgot was that Vic was ill.  He could not remember my name, but he remembered Vic was ill.  He forgot whether she was in hospital or not but knew she was ill… My Dad was the greatest father in the world.  He not only loved his family but cherished us all.

I grew up in a home with a sickly mother.  A childhood back injury lead to many years of suffering and a vicious cycle of back surgery, stomach surgery, back surgery, stomach surgery….  My parents taught us that “love” was a verb – love is an action.  We lived 1 Corinthians 13 in our home.  We were taught to love, honour and respect. My father was the perfect example of what a husband and father should be.

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In my single years I received a couple of proposals.  My mom pressured me – she really wanted me to remarry…  I always said I will remarry when I meet a man like my Dad.  And then I did…

From the day we were married Vic called Danie “Daddy”.  Danie’s four children were her siblings.

Danie was absolutely amazing with Vic and her illness.  When my dad moved in with us, Danie just accepted it as part of our journey.  He was incredibly patient with my Dad who suffered from Alzheimer’s.  His selfless, caring nature has allowed me to care for my dad and my child; to pursue my career and start-up Stepping Stone Hospice.

Danie was a wonderful dad to Vic.  She distinguished between Danie and Tienie (her biological father) by referring to Danie as “Daddy” and Tienie as her father.  She absolutely adored Danie.  Danie loved Vic as if she was his own.

In the final days of Vic’s life she pleaded with him to not leave her.

"Don't leave me Daddy"
“Don’t leave me Daddy”

A couple of days before her death Vic saw her father…  Jared was standing at the bottom of her bed and she said “Look Jared, Oupa Tienie is standing behind you…”   Her dad held her hand as she stopped breathing.  Her father took her hand as she stopped breathing…

When I packed up Vic’s cupboards I found the cardigan she had bought Danie for Father’s Day this year…  This year she will celebrate Father’s Day with her father and Danie will wear his cardigan.

Father’s Day and Mother’s Day were special days for Vic.  She loved spoiling and being spoilt!

Vic was desperately ill last year on Father’s Day.  I cooked a large family lunch and all the Gauteng kids and grandkids came for lunch.  Vic tried to have lunch with us but within minutes she was nauseous.  I remember her eyes filling up with tears when she excused herself from the table.  “I am sorry Daddy” she said.

Father's Day 2012
Father’s Day 2012

Later that afternoon Danie’s eldest daughter lay next to her in bed. They wept together.  Danie sat with them filled with grief for the pain Vic was going through.

Danie is an amazing grandfather.  He loves Vic’s boys as much as he loves his “biological” grandchildren.  He enjoys spending time with them.  He is teaching them the value of family, goodness and love! 

This beautiful man is more than I deserve.  I love him with every fiber of my body.  I am grateful to him for the gift of his children and grandchildren every day of my life.  I am grateful that he taught me the biggest commandment of all – love!

So tonight I salute two wonderful men.  Happy Father’s Day Daddy.  Danie, you are my best friend.  I love you with every fibre in my body.  Thank you so much for being such a wonderful daddy to Vic and grandfather to the boys.

Vic's beloved Daddy and Gramps
Vic’s beloved Daddy and Gramps

Vic, I hope you have fun in Heaven tomorrow with Gramps and your father.  I know you will be surrounded and ensconced in love.  We will miss you on Father’s Day and every other day in our lives.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c9ZMDPf9hZw&feature=colike

Posted in Angels, Death, Family, Family Life, Grief, Uncategorized

ALZHEIMER’S – A SPECIAL POEM


The best father in the world...
The best father in the world…

 

My beautiful dad died of Alzheimer’s.  

 This poem is for you Daddy.  You are my hero; the best father in the world.  You loved unconditionally.  you held onto your dignity with superhuman effort….

I was so proud of you.  You clung to your old-fashioned manners and values until death.

I am glad you died with your dignity intact.  I loved you every day of your life and will continue to love you every day of my life.

A special Poem
 
Do not ask me to remember.
Don’t try to make me understand.
Let me rest and know you’re with me.
Kiss my cheek and hold my hand.
 
I’m confused beyond your concept.
I am sad and sick and lost.
All I know is that I need you
To be with me at all cost.
 
Do not lose your patience with me.
Do not scold or curse or cry.
I can’t help the way I’m acting,
Can’t be different ‘though I try.
 
Just remember that I need you,
That the best of me is gone.
Please don’t fail to stand beside me,
Love me ’till my life is done.
 
– Unknown
My Dad a month before his death....it was such a wonderful day!
My Dad a month before his death….it was such a wonderful day!
My dad and I on my wedding day
My dad and I on my wedding day
Simply the best
Simply the best
Vic adored her Gramps and he adored her!
Vic adored her Gramps and he adored her!

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My hero!
My hero!
Posted in A Mother's Grief, Angels, Family, Family Life, Grief, Religion in my world

Hamba Kahle Little One…


Friday evening we duly said goodbye to young Izak.  My heart is at peace.  His forever-parents are a wonderful couple.  The Dad refers to Izak as his “first-born” son and the Mommy glows with pride when he does something cute (which is all the time).

I am so grateful that he will be going to a loving home.  The parents are intelligent, sociable and gentle.  The Mommy seemed a little uncomfortable changing and feeding him, but I think she may have been a little intimidated by our presence.  The Dad was born to be united with Izak.  They even look-alike!

The precious little angel was at his best behaviour.  It is as if he knows something is brewing….

Lani is such a kind, gentle soul.  She arranged a “Stork Tea” for the Mommy.  Some of her friends made up little gift parcels, and Lani packed one of each of his cereals, Purity, finger biscuits, medicines etc for the Mommy with detailed instructions.  She also made a beautiful “First Bible” with Izak’s photos in it!  The Mommy cried!

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His Oumie (that’s me) bought him a jean, baseball jacket and in African Tradition – a blanket.  I hope that when he is wrapped in his blanket at night he will feel loved and cared for, even when we are gone from his life.

I did cry when I kissed him for the last time.  I felt good knowing that he has forever-parents that love him and who will cherish him.  I can see he will be their pride and joy!

Tuesday at 1 pm Lani has to kiss baby Izak goodbye.  I know she will be heartbroken.  She has such a special bond with him!  He looks at her with absolute adoration in his bright brown eyes.  I know the girls will be heartbroken for losing their little “brother”.  Tom cried on Friday night when he prayed for Izak and his Forever Family.  I know in his heart he had some dreams of being Izak’s “wingman” on his first night out on the town.

 Take my hand and hold it as if it is my heart....

Forever Daddy – take my hand and hold it as if it is my heart….

I pray that Lani will cope with saying goodbye.  I know how hard it is!

I salute Lani and Tom for making a difference in an incredible baby’s life!  I believe that his abandonment is the best thing that could ever have happened to him.  His birth mom made an incredible sacrifice to ensure a better life for him.  In Lani and Tom’s home he had the best possible start to a good life.  Izak was showered with love by everyone he came in touch with…He won over hearts of stone!

My wish for this adorable little boy is a life filled with blessings, love, care, good health and joy.  Izak has the potential to become president of this country.  I pray that his forever parents will cherish and nurture this potential and guide him wisely.

So my precious cherub who laughs a lot, know that you started life surrounded by love.   Hamba Kahle.  I will miss you little one.  You will always remain in my heart!  (Hamba Kahle means to “go well” or “stay well”, not really goodbye)

Tom, Lani and Girls – I salute you for selflessly loving this precious child.  You have given this little boy a chance in life.  I love and admire you for it.

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Posted in A Mother's Grief, Angels, Death, Death of a child, Family, Family Life, Grief, Vicky Bruce

My 1st Mothers Day


Today, the 12th of May 2013, is my first Mother’s Day in 38 years without my precious Vicky.

I attended my sister’s birthday party.  I smiled and participated in her birthday and Mother’s Day celebrations.  I know that worldwide millions of other mothers joined me today in quietly reflecting on our grief and sadness.

I know that the family and especially Danie were worried about how I will handle Mother’s Day.  On Friday morning Danie asked whether he could get me flowers for Mother’s Day as he has done for the past 22 years.  I declined.

I know that even though today is dedicated to mothers, entire families will be affected.  Fathers too experience grief and yet the world seems to forget about them.  Maybe it is because men are so stoic in their grief.

I saw this on a Facebook site – Grieving Mothers, and it really shook me…

552833_515481991830996_736572417_n FB GRIEVING MOTHERS

I know that Danie is grieving for Vic.  He is grieving with the boys and me.  He is grieving for us.  I know he fears that he lost part of me…. 

Today I share Mother’s Day with my fellow club members – the grieving mothers of the world.  Tonight I will reread 30 odd Mother’s Day Cards and drawings that I received from my precious child over the years.  I will cry on my own.  I will burn candles for my child and for the moms of Henry, Tommy, Raymond, Phillip, Klysta,Jason, Alex, Matthew, Caitlyn, Morgan, “B”, Jason David, James, Jesse, Steven, Graham, … I will weep for my beautiful grandsons who did not have a mommy to wish a “Happy Mother’s Day” today… I will mourn my Mom – a woman of great strength, beauty and love.

Yet I am filled with gratitude and love for my stepchildren and grandchildren; the messages of love and support that started coming through from friends, family, Vic’s friends and even the boys friends mothers…

My phone started pinging early this morning.  I ignored the pings.  Danie sneaked into my TV lounge where I was sleeping on the sofa.  I closed my eyes and pretended to be asleep.  Then my phone rang, and I could not ignore the call… It was Lee-Ann.  She said “HI T, I am just phoning to tell you I love you…”  I burst into hysterical tears.  Poor lee!

Danie brought me letters that the boys had written me… Jared wrote “Dear Oumie, I know we don’t have a reason to celebrate mothers day, other than to remember Mom and all she meant to us.  So I have decided that we are changing the name to Oumie’s Day.  We got you a sign that says “HOME” .  That is because this is OUR home, and it always will be.”

Jon-Daniel wrote: “Happy Mothers Day Oumie” It may not be the happiest time of the year for you.  Although your very own child is up in Heaven, you have GRANDchildren.  Nothing will ever fill the gap – Mommy’s gap!  This is the first year you will be celebrating Mother’s Day without the One who made you a Mommy.  It is difficult,you must know I am always here.  After all you are our grandmother.  The word says it all, “grand” – great, awesome, amazing.  And “Mother” – well, no need to describe that.  Everybody knows how special a mommy is.”

Henk, second eldest grandson wrote “Ouma, it was a difficult year but you are always here to help and love.  You always have a smile no matter how bad things are for you.  We are grateful for it, and that is why we love you so much and always will do.”

Yesterday little Simone put her arms around me and said “Thank you for being my Ouma.  Thank you for spoiling us.  I love you very much.  My words are your Mothers Day present.”

I have had beautiful messages of love and caring from all my stepchildren.  It has truly filled me with joy.

I also read a card that Vic gave me in 2000 “We have all changed a lot through the years Mommy but one thing will never change – and that is the love between us.  It is a special bond that keeps us close no matter where we are.  I love you more than words can say.”

I know that today my precious child and Mom are celebrating Mother’s Day together.  I am grateful for all the years we were able to celebrate together.  I love you and honour you both today.  Two amazing mommy’s…

Thank you God that today is over!!!!!

Mother's Day 2008
Mother’s Day 2008
Mother's Day 2012
Mother’s Day 2012

Johannesburg-20110828-00176_2

Posted in A Mother's Grief, Angels, Death, Death of a child, Family, Family Life, Vicky Bruce

I am the last mother…


I come from a long line of exceptional mothers.

My Mom died 15 years and 11 months ago.  She was tiny and petite.  I remember my school friends telling me that my Mom reminded them of a fairy princess.  My Mom dressed beautifully, had perfectly manicured nails and hair…. She taught us the finer things in life.

My parents
My parents

My Mom always worked…she was bright and diligent in her profession as a bookkeeper.  She was proud to be a career girl.  Mom knitted beautifully and made glorious tapestries!

The surprising thing is that we did not ever feel deprived because Mom worked.  I was proud of my mom.  As a family, we went on wonderful holidays every single year of our childhoods.  We were always the well-dressed kids on the block…We got new bicycles, and we had a beautiful home.

As a child, I thought we were rich.  Of course, I knew that many of my parent’s friends lived in seriously nice homes, but somehow I never thought those people were wealthier than we were.  Today I realize that I grew up in a middle-class home.  As a child, I felt protected and RICH!  How amazing is that?

My mother was a remarkable lady.  She brought us up to be compassionate, honest people; to never let the sun set on an argument; to love unconditionally, to protect our own… We learnt from her strength, her respect for others, her courage, faithfulness and her love for God.  Mom was around for the happy and sad times.

My mom as a young woman
My mom as a young woman

“As mothers and daughters, we are connected with one another. My mother is the bones of my spine, keeping me straight and true. She is my blood, making sure it runs rich and strong. She is the beating of my heart. I cannot now imagine a life without her.”
― Kristin HannahSummer Island  http://denacronholm.com/

My Mom died after she developed septicaemia post-operatively.  It was two agonizing weeks!  We sat next to her bed willing her to fight, get well…. To die…

When my Mom died I thought my life was over.  The grief was overwhelming.  It was my first “real” death.  My gran had passed many years ago, but that was my mom’s grief… I was young, ambitious and climbing the corporate ladder.  My life went on.  I remember my Mom crying at silly times because she was missing her mom.  I remember thinking “surely it can’t be that bad?  Old people die…”

After my mom died I read these words, A daughter without her mother is a woman broken. It is a loss that turns to arthritis and settles deep into her bones. ” ― Kristin HannahSummer Island.  My mom grieved for her mom until the day she died.

I must add that my father was an amazing gentleman.  He supported my mom on every level.  He treated her like a queen and tolerated no less from us children.  I adored my dad!  But today’s post is about my mom and motherhood.

I only understood my mom’s love for us after I gave birth to Vic.  It was an all-consuming love.  I held my tiny baby girl in my arms and knew that she needed me for every one of her needs; she could not survive without me…  My mom and I were so close after Vic’s birth.  We shared a selfless love that only mothers can understand.  As mothers, our children come first; nothing is more important than our child’s comfort, happiness and safety.

Mom, my siblings and I
Mom, my siblings and I

“Womanhood is a wonderful thing. In womankind we find the mothers of the race.  There is no man so great, nor none sunk so low, but once he lay a helpless, innocent babe in a woman’s arms and was dependent on her love and care for his existence. It is woman who rocks the cradle of the world and holds the first affections of mankind. She possesses a power beyond that of a king on his throne.
…Womanhood stands for all that is pure and clean and noble. She who does not make the world better for having lived in it has failed to be all that a woman should be.”
― Mabel HaleBeautiful Girlhood: A Timeless Guide for Christian Adolescence

I know there are mothers out there that really suck…  I know because I have been told by friends that they were never protected or defended by their moms.  I am so sad for people who do not have a good relationship with their mothers.  I was blessed with an amazing mother and that enabled me to be a good mother to my child.  My child was an amazing mother to her sons.  She loved her boys with every fibre in her body.  She suffered excruciating pain and indignity to stay alive… Vic could have given up much earlier in her life.  She fought to live right until the end…why???  It is easy – to bring up her beloved boys herself!

Vic reading to her boys
Vic reading to her boys

I am so proud of the mother Vic was.  She packed a lifetime of parenting into the little time that she had with her boys.  Jon-Daniel’s (14 years) BBM message this morning read “I really do miss you Mommy.  I miss the laughs we had and the time we spent together, and I miss talking to you.  Love you Mommy.”

A moment in the sun in the Hospital courtyard
A moment in the sun in the Hospital courtyard

The boys are level-headed, clean-living boys.  They have taken their mother’s words to heart “I am your mother not your excuse”.  Academically they are doing well.  Emotionally they are coping.  They are beautiful boys and truly do Vic’s memory honour.

I am the last mother alive…there will be no next generation mother to carry forward this miracle of motherhood.  The boys may become fathers, but I am the last of a long line of great mothers.

I will think of it on Sunday when millions celebrate Mother’s Day all over the world.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Angels, Chronic Pain, Death, Death of a child, Family, Family Life, Grief, Osteogenesis Imperfecta, Terminal Illness, Vicky Bruce

Mothers and daughters


Vic proudly pregnant with Jon-Daniel
Vic proudly pregnant with Jon-Daniel

Oh God, I am drowning again.  I pray that I will go to bed tonight and never wake up.  I know it I stupid because it would kill the boys and cause others that love me so much pain, but I cannot face life without my child.

I was looking at posts on “The Grieving Parent”, a Bereavement Facebook page for parents (https://www.facebook.com/TheGrievingParent ) and it just made me feel so inadequate and weak.  Bereaved parents speak of the healing they have experienced….I don’t know whether I ever will heal.  Tonight, like yesterday and the 82 days before tonight, I fear that my life is over.

All parents love their children.  Some have a closer bond than others.  The mother /child relationship is the closest relationship anyone will ever find.  There is a bond between a mother and child that cannot be broken or destroyed.

Vic’s death cannot “remove” her from my life.  My love for her is never-ending and all-enduring.  For 9 months I nurtured her in my womb. For 38 years I nurtured her in life.  My life revolved around Vic.

Did we have a perfect relationship of never arguing, fighting or being angry with one another?  Hell no!!  We went through the different stages as all mothers and daughters do.

As a toddler and pre-teen Vic loved me with unshakeable conviction.  By the time she entered her teens we reached the stage where we disliked one another…  We always loved one another, but we certainly disliked one another at certain stages of our lives.  It was a tumultuous swing in our lives…

Vic was extremely headstrong!  She wanted to go to boarding school and that she did…She married early in life, against our wishes…Not because we disliked Colin but because she was too young.  Vic got married 6 months after her 21st birthday.  Six weeks later she fell pregnant against ALL doctors advice.  She had two children at the risk of losing her own life and passing on the Osteogenesis Imperfecta disease and/or gene.

Vic also refused to die.  Vic refused to be “sick”.  She got dressed into normal day-clothes every day of her life.  She refused to hand over the responsibility of her children’s upbringing to anyone regardless of how ill she was.

Vic did what she did when she wanted to.  If she believed in something she would defy anyone and everyone.  She was driven by her need to grow up and live her life to the full.  The relationship shift from child to adult was very difficult for me to accept.

Our relationship changed after Vic had the boys.  Maybe because then there was a greater level of understanding, by Vic, of the enormity of the responsibility that a mother has to her child…..

Vic was not a saint.  She was a difficult teenager and a fiercely independent young woman. Yet our mother-daughter relationship was ultimately fulfilling. I was certainly not the perfect mother.  I failed Vic on many levels.  We were so different that we found it difficult to understand one another’s choices and needs.

Despite conflicts and complicated emotions, Vic and I loved one another unconditionally.  We complemented one another perfectly.  Vic so often said “God knew what He was doing when He put us together….We are such a good team!”

I am grateful for the time we spent together.  I wish I had spent less time working and more time playing…I wish I had been less concerned about Vic’s financial care.  I wish I had been there when she took her first steps…I got the hospital time.  Her healthy time I spent working – playing catch-up for her hospital time… I wish Vic had grown up in a home with a mommy and a daddy…

In her later life Vic became a child again.  She was totally dependent upon me.  I did not have to “compete” with a spouse to take care of her.  In the final months of Vic’s life she had panic attacks when I was away from her.  In a weird, sick way my life was perfect.  My baby was home.  I could love and nurture her…

I wish we had more time…

Vic writing the boys final letters six days before her death.
Vic writing the boys final letters six days before her death.

In the final days of her life Vic cried “I want to live.  Mommy I don’t want to die… If only I could live for one more year…”

I would give everything I own; every second of my remaining life; everything I love and cherish for Vic to have lived just one more year.

Posted in Death, Death of a child, Family, Family Life, Grief, Vicky Bruce

I want to be an eagle


Photo Credit:  http://www.google.co.za/url?sa=i&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&docid=a4HSdquhxAfXUM&tbnid=bvrLKK8OWwZQ2M:&ved=0CAcQjB0wADivAQ&url=http%3A%2F%2Fdaryl-hunter.net%2Fslideshow%2Feagles-nest-idaho-snake-river%2F&ei=UdAjUYbdBO6a1AWewoAQ&psig=AFQjCNHGyZZ71w_6bQPcV6e5EXHslosATg&ust=1361387985127753
Photo Credit: Google

My late father was pretty advanced in his journey with Alzheimers when I read that AD patients respond well to animals.  We got my Dad a little Maltese Poodle and it was love at first sight.

My Dad absolutely adored Tiger.  He carried Tiger everywhere and Tiger sat with him, ate with him and slept with him.

One day my Dad and I were chatting and I asked him: “If you could be any animal what would you be?”

I fully expected him to say a Lion – he loved the magnificence of lions…I love eagles.  I don’t think Dad quite understood what I was asking and said “You go first…”

“I would want to be an eagle…” I said

“Why?” he asked

“I want to soar high above the sky and experience that total solitude and quiet…” I replied

“Oh” Dad said.  “I would want to be this little guy”

Dad did not remember the name of his beloved dog but he knew that the dog was loved, nurtured and spoilt!

I have always equated the turmoil of teenage and parent relationships as an “Eagle” relationship.  The following is an extract from a site –  http://www.eagleflight.org/cyberstudies/actions-and-attitudes-of-a-growing-church/157-with-eagles-wings.  I have changed some of the headings and removed text that is not relevant but basically the content below belongs to http://www.eagleflight.com

Location is very important to the eagle and it’s young. If possible, eagles build their nests on the face of cliffs. They don’t build a nest in a tree unless they absolutely have to, because a nest in a tree can be easily accessed. They don’t build it on the top of the cliff, either, because on the top of a cliff it can be violated, too. Eagles build their nests in some inaccessible place.

The nest is built with consummate skill—not using little twigs, but great branches woven together in an immensely skillful way. If somehow an eagle’s nest is loosed from its moorings and falls, it rarely comes apart. In fact, eagles’ nests are so big, they have weighed in at half a ton! They’re comfortable, too. Their centers are carefully lined with feathers and leaves, and the eggs are placed there. When they hatch, the mother begins the process of feeding the babies.

After the eaglets get to a certain size, or maturity, everything changes! One day the mother eagle comes back from being gone, but this time there’s no food in her beak, and she doesn’t land on the edge of the nest. Instead, she hovers over the nest.

You may not know this, but an eagle can do almost what a hummingbird can do. Even though they are great birds, they can remain almost motionless in midair with those great wings just undulating in the breeze. They do this about three feet above the nest. I’m sure if little eagles could talk to one another—and maybe they can—one would certainly say, “My, what strong wings Mommy has.”

Why does the mother do this? She is demonstrating that those curious appendages on the babies’ backs have a useful function. Eagles, of course, were meant to fly, but they don’t know that. If we take an eagle and separate it at birth from its parents, it will never learn to fly. It will just grovel around in the dirt like a chicken. It might even look up and see eagles soaring overhead and never guess that it was meant to soar in the heavens.

Eagles have to be taught, and that’s the mother’s job. So first she just demonstrates.

The next thing she does is come down into the nest and surprise her young. One can imagine how warm it must normally be for the little eagles to snuggle with their mother and be enshrouded with her feathers, but this time she puts her head up against one of the little ones, and pushes that little one closer and closer to the edge of the nest. (“Hey mom, mom, what are you doing?”)

All at once she pushes the little one out of the nest, and the eaglet falls down the face of the cliff, surely to be destroyed. But not so! In a flash the great mother eagle flies down, catches the little one on her back, and flies up and deposits it in the nest. (“Whew! Mom, that must have been an accident.”) But it wasn’t an accident. The mother bird pushes the little one out again, and again, over and over.

Why would a mother do that to her young? Does she hates the little one? Not at all. It’s just that those little birds were made to fly, and they don’t know it, so she is going to push them out of the nest. She never lets them hit bottom, but she does let them fall, because they have to learn something they don’t know.

The next time the mother bird comes back she decides to clean house, and so she stands on the edge of the nest. The first things to go are the feathers inside; she drops them over the edge. Then the leaves go over the edge—heave ho! While this is going on, she’s not very talkative, either. (“Mom, what are you doing?”) She pays no attention. Since she built the house, she knows how to take it apart.

Next she decides to take the sticks out of the middle of the nest, and with her great strong beak and feet, she’s able to break them off and stand them straight up. (“Mom, it’s not comfortable in here anymore.”) Then she takes certain key sticks out of the nest and throws them over the edge. (“What are you doing, Mom? You are wrecking my room.”)

She seemingly pays no attention to the concerns of her young as she prepares to pull the nest apart, for she is determined that those little ones will fly, and she knows something they don’t. She knows they will never fly as long as they remain in the nest.

That is why teenagers and mothers fight…so they can learn to fly and “escape” home!

We all go through this stage with our teenagers.  Most of the time we don’t even realize the process….  But Nature is great and takes over from us.

I was never able to let go of Vic.  I wanted her close where I could hear her breathe.  The movie “Terms of endearment” shows a mother who walks into the nursery and climbs into the cot to make sure that her baby is breathing.  When the baby starts crying she promptly climbs out, marches out and says “That’s better…”

That is the mother I was!  I mothered (smothered) my precious baby until her last breath.  I do not regret that she never learnt to fly.  Hell, she never even learnt to ride a bike!

As a parent we can only do our best.  We love and nurture and then we set them free…

I just feel so lost and empty.

Posted in Chronic Pain, Death of a child, Family, Family Life, Grief

My Mom is a Survivor


P1100704This poem may have been written by my precious Vic….

She used to worry so about me surviving her death.  Our domestic helper has worked for me for the past 18 years.  Bettie is part of the family.  Over the years we have shared tears for our children…

Bettie went on her annual leave on the 18th of December 2012.  She tells me that Vic asked her to keep an eye on me, after her passing, as she would not see Bettie again…

Vic knew she was dying.  I knew she was dying.  I prayed for her to die!  Why is it so hard now.  I want to scream my anger and pain…I want to lash out at someone and just punch them…

Bettie returned just in time for Vic’s memorial service.

My Mom is a Survivor
My mom is a survivor,
or so I’ve heard it said.
But I can hear her crying
when all others are in bed.
I watch her lay awake at night.
and go to hold her hand.
She doesn’t know I’m with her
to help her understand.
But like the sands upon a beach
that never wash away…
I watch over my surviving mom
who thinks of me each day.
She wears a smile for others,
a smile of disguise.
But through Heaven’s open door,
I see tears flowing from her eyes.
My mom tries to cope with my death,
to keep my memory alive.
But anyone who knows her
knows it’s her way to survive.
As I watch over my surviving mom
through Heaven’s open door…
I try to tell her that
Angel protect me forevermore.
I know that doesn’t help her,
or ease the burdens she bears.
So if you get a chance, call to her
And show her that you care.
For no matter what she feels,
my surviving mom has a broken heart
that time won’t ever heal.
~K. D’Ormeaux

When A Daughter Cries


http://halfmanhalfgreek.files.wordpress.com/2010/07/sad-woman.jpg

when a mother cries
her tears stab at her daughter’s heart
as they plummet to the floor

when a mother cries
he daughter cries too
because her heroine is wounded and she doesn’t know how or why
she cries because she cannot rid her mother of the pain
she cries most of all because she loves her mother

when a daughter cries because her mother cries,
her mother cries more
because her weakness has hurt her child
she cries because it hurts to know she’s the cause of her daughter’s tears.
she cries most of all because she loves her daughter

once the tears have ceased however
love remains
the love forever shared between a mother and her daughter

Portia Lane http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/a-daughter-cries/


	
Posted in Palliative Care, Terminal Illness, Uncategorized, Vicky Bruce

Today was a bad day


Vic and her boys Christmas 2011
Christmas 2011

When you have a frozen abdomen from having 80+ abdominal surgeries, have a septic abdomen and septic prosthesis in your spine, suffer from Addison’s Disease and spend 24/7 in pain your world becomes very small. You also become well travelled as you have been to hell and back! Life gravitates around pain medication, more pain medication and hopefully some blissful sleep. Friends come and go. Spouses come and go. In an uncertain life it is a certainty that everybody eventually leaves.

So for the few of us that choose to stay around it is important to be sensitive to the emotions of the terminally ill person. Allow me to personalize this… It is important for us as a family to be sensitive to Vic’s feelings of abandonment.

Countless times a day Vic will say “Thank you Mommy for…….” “Thank you for looking after me”; “thank you for not leaving me”; “thank you for loving me” …… A child should never ever have to say that!

An adult child should rebel against the constraints of her parents rules and discipline and leave home. She leaves the safety of the home and comes back for Sunday lunches, to drop off laundry and bring a new love around to meet The Parents… Eventually the child will venture down the aisle, fall pregnant, christen her children, start running a car pool…. the list carries on and on. Eventually in large parts of the world the aged parents may move in with the now mature children and eventually die. I got married, left home, had Vic, got divorced, bought a new house, started my own business, remarried and eventually my Dad came to live with us for 18 months until he forgot how to breathe. Not once in my adult life did I ever consider moving back home to my parents. As an adult, wife and mother I often longed for the safety of my childhood home. I long for just ONE day in my life without responsibilities. I long to be a child again – carefree and cherished…. I miss my mom and wish I had her support and advice to get us through this difficult journey.

My sister and I discussed the way our lives had turned out. She has had an extremely challenging life and I seem to go from one crisis to another. We decided that we used up all our good luck and happiness as children…. I want to be a child again!

As usual I digress.

Vic is emotionally fragile. She fears that the remaining few people will also get tired of her ill health and pained life and abandon her.  She fears that the boys will abandon her and look to us, the grandparents, for parenting.  She fears losing the only “position” in life that she has left – the position  of “Mother”.  It has been very difficult to sacrifice her independence and move home. She has gone from being a wife to being a child. She has gone from being the mother to being mothered. I am a typical parent. I want to protect my little baby…. I want to do everything for her. I want to wrap her up in cotton wool and keep her resting in her bed. Maybe if she takes things easy it will buy us some extra time… If she is in bed her chances of injury is less.

Every day of her life countless indignities are heaped upon her. She is dependant for everything from medication, care, food and money. Poor poppet! Death is always in the foreground of her mind. Either fear of dying and at times fear of not dying.

I don’t really know what I set out to articulate in this blog but writing has once again reminded me what a pitiful life Vic has. My poor, poor little baby! No-one in the world deserves her life! But we will never abandon her – ever!

Today was a bad day – again.

Posted in Uncategorized, Vicky Bruce

A Mother’s Love for her Sons


I have been researching the effect of a mother’s illness on her children.  The boys are two beautiful, well-adjusted, honest and compassionate young men.  Vic’s illness has certainly deprived them of a childhood in the true sense of the word and prematurely matured them into compassionate, caring, young men far too early in life.  At the tender age of thirteen Jared was cooking for the family…  This must certainly have an effect on how the boys perceive relationships with people.

Now according to my research the boys have become what is called ‘parentified’ children. These children solve the problem of sick and inadequate parenting by taking care of their parents. They in effect become parents to their parents, giving to the sick parent what they need from the parent. Now the roles are reversed. This seemingly creative solution is unfortunately too self-sacrificing to be healthy in the long run.

“‘Parentified’ sons who take care of their sick mothers in order to cope with their inability to parent, struggle to suppress obvious needs for love and feelings of loss. They learn to work hard taking care of the needs of others and living off of the scraps that come in the form of reinforcements for their competence and reliability. Their needs for love are overlooked and overshadowed by everyone else’s needs.”  The boys, especially Jared, falls into this category 100%.  When his little girlfriend was hit in the eye by a hockey ball, he immediately went into caregiving mode,  At the time I thought it to be extremely unhealthy that he already has this caregiving character trait.  He used to always make the tea and offer to do so much around the house and for his Mom.

I have put a stop to this.  I pray it is not too late for the boys to adjust to a “normal” household…

It is however important for them to realize that death is a part of the circle of life and that it is not something dark and something to be feared but rather, if happening in a timely fashion, something that one can embrace. The boys appreciate and respect Vic as their mother.   Vic has raised her sons to be respectful.

“The power of a mother’s strength comes from her heart, from her unabashed, unconditional, and unwavering love for her child. There is, as J.K. Rowling wrote in her Harry Potter books, a magic in that love. No matter what happens, a mother is always there for her child. A mother’s love is never to be questioned, and – though she may not know it at first – neither is her strength.”

Vic literally rose from her deathbed to be there for Jared with his operation on Wednesday.  When my Mom died I related her final moments to someone jumping from a diving board into a deep pool, reaching the bottom and kicking to rise to the surface of the water for one more breath… only to sink again.  This is what Vic does.

Before Jared was wheeled into theatre he whispered into his mom’s ear.  She took his hand and said “I promise”.

Vic, drip in hand, walking with Jared to theater!

The surgeon said the operation would last two hours.  Vic dutifully went back to bed and rested.  One hour and forty-five minutes later she was, IV drip in hand, standing outside the theatre door, waiting for her son.  I begged her to at least sit on the chair but she refused.  “Mommy, I promised Jared my face would be the first thing he sees when he comes out of theatre!”

It took a superhuman effort but Vic’s love for her son drove her to keep her word.  It is true that no mother wants her child to suffer in any way, but life is unfair like that. So, we as mother’s do what we can to provide support, comfort, and protection. And we grow strong enough to bear their hurt as well as our own.  As Vic did.  As I do. Motherhood cuts deeply, brings you to your knees most days; but it also brings a strength that may surprise you.

The vicious cycle of anger truly rose to the occasions on Wednesday.  I got angry with Vic because she was not putting her health first!  I KNOW I would have done the same but it was terrible seeing my child do herself harm to be a Mother.  I want to wrap her in cotton so she would be spared that extra day…

Yesterday Vic said she doubted whether she would see the end of the year.  She is however adamant to be at Jared’s confirmation…one more goal…

Go Girl!!!

Well, Vic is home.  I am so grateful.  She is conceding that she is too sore and ill to go to hospital…Saturday Jared comes home!!