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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Vicky Bruce 31.8.1974 to 18.1.2013


Vicky Bruce, brave warrior, beloved mother of Jared and Jon-Daniel Sadie, beautiful daughter of Tersia and Danie Burger, sister and friend lost her brave battle against Osteogenesis Imperfecta on 18 January 2013. Finally, you can run angel child!  Your incredible will to live and your beautiful soul will live on in your amazing sons.  They are truly monuments that will honour you forever.  You are finally free and reunited with you Daddy, Moekie and Gramps.!  Run Vic run! Love you now and forever baby!

Vicky Bruce

Vicky Bruce

dead woman walking


Last night I had a discussion with someone who Vic loves very dearly.  This friend of Vic has spent endless hours, days, weeks and months in hospital with Vic.  She is actually the only person that has truly travelled this horrific journey with us.  Vic has lived through many death sentences and reprieves.  Lee has been around for at least the past 7 years of Vic’s journey.  Vic has nursed Vic back to health many times and I know she cares deeply for Vic, her friend.

I discussed the various treatment options with her.  Do I insist on having a stent fitted or do I request feeding tubes?  Or do I go with Vic’s non-intervention wish?  But if I comply how do I bring calmness and peace in Vic’s life?  Vic is no exception to the rule…As Bella pointed out last night even Jesus of NAZARETH feared death….Fearing death is as natural as breathing is to us.

Last night I decided no sedation.  If I allow sedation, which is against her wishes, I will silence Vic’s voice, her fears and her tears.

Dr Sue says the bleeding is from the abdomen.  Her Oesophagus, throat and mouth are covered in a mass of sores from all the vomiting.  Her breathing is shallow and her heart rate weak but very rapid.  Her blood pressure is dropping and her circulation is poor.  The liver is very enlarged.

We are past the point of no return.  Vicky is dying and only a miracle can save her.  There is no operation, no magic medication, and no nothing that can save her.

Today I again witnessed her anguish and phenomenal will to live.  I saw Vic, in my mind’s eye, Vic being escorted, in deadly silence down a long dark passage.  Her family and friends were escorting her on her final walk into the chamber of death.  I clearly saw the fear in her eyes and I could feel her little body trembling with fear.  I heard a voice saying “Dead woman walking…”

I saw her walk into an execution room, being strapped down and the needle being inserted into her little arm.  I was the head warden and my eyes were flitting between the clock and a telephone…Would there be another reprieve??

It is so cruel.  For all of us.  Why do people linger?  Why don’t we all just go to sleep and never wake up?  Or die in a car accident?  Why this suffering???  I want to go to sleep and never wake up.  Life sucks!

Vic is on a mild sedation.  She is more calm and peaceful than she has been for a couple of weeks.  She woke up this evening and had dinner…half a hamburger!!  My little take-away queen!! She only vomited at 11.30 pm so she managed to actually keep down the food.  She has passed no urine today.

She sobbed when I told her the boys had covered their school books…”I want to do it for them!”  She wailed

“I have let down my boys.  I always cover their books…”

“Oh Jared, look!  Oupa Tienie is standing behind you…”  It really spooked the boys.  Tienie died on the 5th of November 1999…

I wish Vic was married.  I wish her biological father was still alive!  I wish the decision was not mine!!!

Tomorrow I will ask that the sedation be increased.  I will silence my child’s sweet voice.  I will also silence her tears and fears.

“Dead woman walking…”

 

Happy birthday to you…


I hardly received any 2013 New Year’s wishes.  Normally I would receive so many beautiful wishes but this year I received messages for a” peaceful New Year’s Eve filled with laughter and good memories…”

Last night my sister said in a text message “what tears do 2013 hold for you?  Maybe it should stay 2012”…

Jared went a friend’s home; Danie went to bed early – he is coming down with flu; Vic was asleep so that left Jon-Daniel and I.  We watched Comedy Central and had some good laughs waiting for 2012 to end.

Jon-Daniel loves making his Mommy laugh.  In a way I suppose he uses humour as a coping mechanism.

“I think we should wake Mom up at 12” I said

“Okay…Let’s sing Happy Birthday to Mom….” He said with a twinkle in his eyes.

As the hooters and sirens started going Jon-Daniel and I sneaked into Vic’s room and sang “Happy Birthday to you…”  Vic opened her eyes and said “What is happening?” and immediately fell asleep again.

The joke was on us.

Today was a quiet day.  The boys spend some wonderful quality time with their Mom.  Danie remained in bed until almost 4pm as he is feeling lousy from the flu.  We all drifted in and out Vic’s room.  In the afternoon Jared went for a swim.  Vic went outside and spoke to him.

Jared had some questions and she patiently explained to him what an “Executor’s” duties are.  She explained why Leon and I were the Executors of her will and the Trustees of their Trust. (I got some lovely photos of Vic chatting to the boys!)  Vic tried to show Jared that she could whistle through an acorn… Jon-Daniel taught her! As much as she tried she could not get a sound out of the acorn.  To everybody’s laughter she said “But I can do it!”

We convinced her that she should get onto the inflated lilo.  The cold water would reduce her body temperature and the sun would be good for the jaundice.  Very reluctantly she got onto the “non- life-saving inflatable device”.  I got into the pool with Vic.

Esther and Yuri arrived and she made a dash for her camera…  later Leon and Henk arrived.  The boys swam and laughed and played…

It was a wonderful day filled with glorious memories.  We laughed and joked and eventually ate.  Esther lay with Vic and they spoke about where Vic was in her journey.

It was a special day.

I think friends and family don’t know what to wish us…How do you say “Happy New Year” to a household where death is knocking on the door?  I would not know what to say to us if I wasn’t me…

But from our home to yours: We wish you a great 2013.  We hope that 2013 is filled with laughter, good health, abundance and time to do some good every day.  We thank you for your love and support.  Thank you for your prayers and words of encouragement.  You have been such an amazing source of comfort to us.

Thank you Hospice for giving us the means to have these special memories!  Thank you to the manufacturers of Morphine, Pethidine, Stemitil and Buscopan…

 

Jon-Daniel teaching his Mom to whistle through an acorn...

Jon-Daniel teaching his Mom to whistle through an acorn…

Vic trying to whistle through an acorn...

Vic trying to whistle through an acorn…

 

 

Jared gently helping his Mom

Jared gently helping his Mom

 

Jared and Vic having a chat

Jared and Vic having a chat

 

Esther and I with precious Vicky

Esther and I with precious Vicky

 

Hi Sis, you know I love you....

Hi Sis, you know I love you….

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sweet 16


On the 26th of December 1996 Jared Colin Sadie was born. He was a beautiful, healthy baby boy.  I cried with joy when I first saw him and that first “rush of love” hit me.

Baby Jared

Baby Jared

Vic fell pregnant 6 weeks after she got married.  When the kids asked us whether they could get married I had a LONG talk to them about NOT having babies.  They both said “We know…”  I explained the dangers of passing the Osteogenesis gene onto a next generation of innocent children.

I will never forget that dreadful Sunday night when they told us that Vic was pregnant.  My heart stopped.  I sobbed in the shower.  For the first time in her life I feared for Vic’s life.

Vicky refused flat out to have an abortion.  She said the baby a gift from God.  And so he was….

Jared is an amazing young man.  According to our government he is now old enough to vote, get his learners licence for a motor bike and work…  I look at him and I see a little boy who was going to be a stuntman;  a young child helping his Mommy cook;  get out of bed; walk down stairs…

Both Jared and Jon-Daniel are loving, compassionate monuments of Vic love and mothering.

Jared is a “computer nerd” with a wonderful personality.  He has a keen sense of humour and wise beyond his years.  He is fiercely protective of his mother.  A very dear Saudi friend of mine says Jared has a “white heart”.  (Albak Abyad” an Egyptian expression that indicates a person with a good heart. It’s literal translation to English is “You have a white heart” as opposed to being a bad person with a black heart).

Vic, once again, managed to get out of bed.  She was falling asleep in her chair, but managed to visit with most of the guests who came, ate something and left.  Laughter and joy reverberated through the house.  Vic was the proud mother. It was a happy home for the day…

The boys have a hard time coming to terms with the stage that Vic’s illness is at.  Jared’s first words when he comes back into the house after Siza leaves is “What did Hospice say?”.  He researches every symptom and sends me links on liver and renal failure.  He is an expert on Osteogenesis Imperfecta and was 9 years old when he spoke about his Mommy at a Public Speaking lesson at school.  The subject was “My Hero“.  We all expected him to speak of Nelson Mandela, but he chose to speak about his Mom.  (His brother followed suit two years later)

He said that his mom is his hero because despite the fact that she is so ill she still looks after them…

Jared and his Mommy
Jared and his Mommy

Jared had a wonderful 16th birthday.  He was absolutely thrilled with the Docking Station Vic had bought for him. As soon as he gets his license we will buy him a motorbike.

She ain't heavy - she is my mother

She ain’t heavy – she is my mother

Yesterday was a milestone in Vic’s life.  I fear it may be the last she will reach.  It is clear that Italy will not be possible.

I was so tired last night that I slept through Vic’s 23:31 and 03:00 “Vomiting” text messages…. Vic refuses to use the intercom!  She feels it is “disrespectful”.

Mother and Son

Mother and Son

As much as Vic resents the fact I may have to bring in a night nurse.

I remember Vic’s 16th as if it was yesterday.  Now she is a grown woman with two teenage sons – nearing the end of her tenure on earth

https://tersiaburger.com/2012/08/27/kidney-stones-on-the-move/

https://tersiaburger.com/2012/10/10/i-am-taking-a-break-from-your-blog/
https://tersiaburger.com/2012/07/07/chronic-illness-versus-terminal-illness/
https://tersiaburger.com/2012/05/28/22-2-2002-to-28-5-2012/
https://tersiaburger.com/2012/06/09/9-6-2012/
https://tersiaburger.com/2012/10/16/and-the-winner-is/

Thank you God


I just finished a batch of choc-chip cookies.  The house is quiet and sweet smell of the biscuits has permeated the air.  The Christmas tree lights are flicking and the first batch of gifts beautifully wrapped.  It is the season of Christmas. Two weeks ago I despaired that Vic would not live to see Christmas. Dr Sue came and saw Vic this morning.  She lanced the cellulitis
abscess on Vic’s arm.  My baby girl was so brave!! Sue told us of a young man who came to see her in her rooms with a small abscess in his face.   He cried with pain.  Sue told Vic what a brave person she is…I was so proud of my little girl. Vic’s heart and pulse rate is very elevated.  She has a kidney infection.  Kidney infections make her tired. I just checked on Vic and she is sleeping so peacefully.  She has a serene expression on her beautiful face and she is truly pain-free tonight. Sitting here I am counting my blessings. My baby girl is home.  I cannot begin to imagine how difficult it would have been if Vic lived elsewhere or if she was married or involved.  I can now care for my child without having to consider my “position” in her life.  I am able to be her mommy and take care of her. The boys are settled and happy living with us.  We love having them so close to us.  They are such well-behaved, kind and helpful boys!  Before Vic moved home the boys, mainly Jared, had to cook most days.  Now they are able to be children. Life has settled into an easy routine.  We have laughter and fun.  We cry and despair.  We hug.  We talk and constantly affirm our love for one another. Vic is spending a lot of time with her boys – talking.  She helped with the preparations for Jared’s 16th birthday party.  Vic passed me the spices when I baked this year’s Christmas cakes.  We laughed when we decided the cake needed another “splash of brandy”.  Vic “chose” her Christmas Cake. My wonderful husband is such an amazing person.  He is my rock and pillar.  He loves and protects us. I am happy and content with our lives. Thank you God for this time of closeness.      

Vic is sleeping peacefully


IMG_4860

It is 12:42am and Vic is sleeping peacefully.  She had a “good” day. In between her naps she had lunch with a friend, a visit from Esther and a walk in the garden with Jared!

Vic’s legs are growing very weak.  The cellulitis on her arm has worsened despite the antibiotics.  It is now oozing pus.  Sr Siza will see her tomorrow, and I believe Vic will have to go onto IV antibiotics.  She had a violent vomiting spell just after she took her antibiotic tablets tonight.  It is very difficult for her to keep tablets and food down.  Despite the six-hourly anti-nausea injections she has….  And of course there is the problem of the poor absorption.

“I can’t do this anymore…” Vic mumbled to herself tonight after the vomiting episode.

The situation is getting to Danie.  My poor husband tries so hard to be strong and make life easier for the rest of us.  Jared and Jon-Daniel are deeply conscious of the situation.

“Life will be horrible without Mommy” Jared said today.  “She takes so much of our time, and such a big space in our lives….  Mommy has such a presence Oumie…”

We spoke about his little brother and Jon-Daniel’s inability and aversion to discuss his emotions.

I realised that the boys are already starting to dread the void Vic’s passing will leave.  Anticipatory grief is a killer.  It is unfair that these two beautiful boys have to experience so much pain and hardship in their young lives.  They should be riding their bikes and getting up to mischief.  Now they are stressed out because their mother is dying.

I am too tired to write anything that makes sense.  I just need to record today.  I never want to forget today.

I want to remember how I felt when I lay with my child this afternoon.  I want to remember her tears when she spoke to her sister.  I want to remember the smell of her vomit.  Maybe it will make it easier to accept later on.