When Mamaw was told that she had cancer it really wasn’t that long ago. She was told that she could do chemo and extend her life some or opt not to do treatment. She opted to do the chemo, as well as radiation, to help extend her life and reduce her pain. When I heard that was the choice she made my immediate thought was “I wouldn’t do that, not at her age. Chemo and radiation can be awful.” I then realized I was really glad she hadn’t consulted me before choosing to complete treatment or not. I am glad I wasn’t an influence on her choice. I am glad it was her that was able to make the decision.
As she went through treatment we were able to “compare war stories,” so to speak. We talked about how the treatment was impacting each of us and the things we knew we could be doing differently (more rest and always more water). There were check ins here and there via phone, which I realize could have been more frequent. There were holidays we might not have had if she hadn’t opted for treatment. She had treatment to give her family the gift of time. Mamaw was religious and in her heart believed she was going on to a better place. A place where her husband was. A place she would be in no more pain. I truly believe her treatment was just to give the family time.
I was out of town in Florida when I received a phone call from my dad, Pops. Pops told me that Mamaw had called everyone together, essentially to say goodbye. I was still several days away from heading home and I didn’t think I would make it in time to see her one last time. I will always remember our last conversation. I was able to talk to her on the phone. We talked about our treatments, our side effects, and she wanted to know what I was going to do next for a treatment. Even when she was at her end she was worried about how I was going to continue treating my cancer. I told her I was sorry that I wouldn’t be home until the following week. I was out celebrating life and marking a few things off my list along the way.
The last thing we talked about was a message I will never forget. It went like this:
Me: Mamaw, I need you to rest now. I hear you are surrounded by family but you need to rest and take care of yourself. I know it is hard to rest, stubbornness runs in our blood.
Mamaw: I will rest for us, you just get out and keep living for both of us.
So, that is what I intend to do. Mamaw passed away the next day. Upon my return home, I headed down for her funeral services and we buried my Mamaw. I was honored to have this piece of her story shared in the service.
I hope that everyone takes her advice and gets out living.