Our beautiful crystal clear day is almost over. What was the weather like two years ago? I don’t remember. Yet I recall that it was fall break and that I was watching the ‘grands’ that Thursday, as my daughters and the rest of Kara’s bridal party were off to have some fun in Las Vegas.
And the recollection and writing down of these few words have served to resurrect within my own mind the nature of our weather that day; it was colder than today’s. But still pretty enough for the kids to play outside. I recall Karson didn’t want to wear her sweater and she and I had a verbal tug-of-war over it, before she finally gave up and put it on. It was probably other grandchildren-tug-of-wars that caused me to miss Mom’s call that day. It was lunch time and I never heard the phone ring. When I found her message later, I gave a quick call back to see what she wanted. But our conversation was short and to the point. She was busy and so was I. And we knew we’d see each other the next day for supper.
Mom sounded good; she was having fun working in Christi’s shop. Christi had wanted to close the shop so she and Jane could take a day for play. But Mom wanted to work; the shop gave Mom a good excuse to get out of the house for the day and an opportunity to visit with customers.
But the fun came to screeching halt four hours later, when Christi called to tell me that SOMETHING had happened to Mom; and that she and Jane were on their way back home. We later learned that Mom had suffered a severe brain hemorrhage, sometime between noon and 3:30 pm. The grands were playing with a couple of neighborhood children outside at the time. And their other Nana wasn’t scheduled to relieve me until around five o’clock.
Until relief came, I was trapped and unable to rush to Shawnee Medical Center. But as it turned out, Mom ended up being in such a bad state that she was soon headed my way, transported to Oklahoma City by ambulance to be worked on by the ‘big city’ experts. When Jane gave me the update, she tried to prepare me: “Jan, it isn’t good.”
My sister said those same words. But always the eternal optimist, I found myself telling Christi it would be all right. Maybe that’s when she got more specific with me. My journal entry that day records our conversation:“It’s not good”, Christi says. “There must be hope, otherwise, they wouldn’t send her. Right?” “No.” “It will be days.” “DAYS? Who told you that?” “The doctors.”
I didn’t care what this doctor thought, or what other ‘grim reaper’ physicians thought, who ended up darkening Mom’s ICU doorway in the days to come. I endevored to hang onto my hope up until the last week of Mom’s life. On the opposite side of the track, my sister was afraid to hope, especially given the ER doctor’s prognosis. Together, we made a great team, helping each other to see the light and dark moments of reality, with the support of so many others. Mom ended up living seven weeks, though I never heard Mom talk again after those few words she spoke in the Oklahoma City ER, before Mom underwent emergency surgery to relieve pressure from her brain.
In the ER that night, Mom was surrounded by three generations of women — two sisters, two daughters, a daughter-in-law and two young granddaughters. Trying to decide whether or not to operate, the brain surgeon came in to check on Mom in 45 minute intervals. The surgeon would pose the same menu of questions, which Mom struggled to answer.“Can you tell me your name?” “Carol Pappas” Can you tell me where you are? “Hospital.” “Can you tell me what today’s date is?” “——————————–“ “Can you tell me what today’s date is?” “——————————-“ “Can you tell me what today’s date is?” “——————————“
I’ll never forget the answer to that question that Mom didn’t know. It was October 18th.