My most faithful reader

Ever since I’ve started blogging, I’ve had one reader who I could count on to read every entry, to comment occasionally, and even to gently nudge me if I didn’t blog for a long time. I am referring, of course, to my Mom.

But I’m afraid (in more than one sense of the word) that I’m going to lose her very soon, and that’s why we’re sitting at SJC waiting to board a flight to take us back to Richmond.

All was well three weeks ago; then she started to suffer shortness of breath — enough that she went to the doctor, who diagnosed her as having pneumonia and recommended that she be admitted to the hospital for tests. They found the problem: lung cancer. The pulmonary specialist who made the diagnosis told her the prognosis very bluntly and then went on his merry way. That was Friday, April 4, as I was flying home from my trip to the IBM Research Spring Strategy Session.

On the 5th, we flew to Valley Stream for a long-scheduled trip including a few days in Richmond. Mom was back in her apartment and seemed to be doing well — until the night before we went to Richmond. She fell that night and couldn’t get up — but she was able to call my brother and sister-in-law, who were able to help her. And she arranged to have help during the day.

We arrived on the 11th and had a nice visit. We knew about the cancer, but we all tried not to let it dominate our time — and so we visited the University of Richmond, went to ComedySportz, and continued on to Washington on Saturday, as scheduled. I could tell that she was a bit weaker than before, but things didn’t seem dire.

Tuesday night, we flew home. I spent Wednesday at home working (clearing 500 pieces of mail can be done as easily at home as in the office!), and all was fine. Until about 4:30pm, when my brother called me — Mom had had problems the night before, and had fallen in the bathroom and hit her head. She wears a ADT pendant, which she pressed — they called 911 and then my brother. She didn’t want to go to the hospital, and seemed to be holding her own, so he stayed with her.

About 7pm (Pacific), my brother called again. Mom was complaining of being terribly cold, so they were going to the hospital. Later on, he said she was unconscious and not expected to live through the night, so we booked tickets for the 6:30am flight and spent most of the rest of the night packing. We got a couple of hours of sleep (which was probably more than he and his wife managed), woke up at 3:15, and were in a taxi at 4:45, en route to the airport.

Just as we turned into the airport, my phone rang. It was my brother, with the welcome news that Mom had had a transfusion, had strengthened, was talking, and didn’t want us to come out. I didn’t believe it until she told me herself — then we had the taxi take us home and went back to sleep. It was the best trip to nowhere I’d ever had.

We woke around 9 and went to work. I was telling my manager about the story when my phone rang — it was my brother, with bad news again. Mom was bleeding and the prognosis was unclear. I kept working, but started investigating flight alternatives.

The phone calls kept coming, and the news got grimmer with each one. So I booked tickets (again), and here we are.

Jeff and I were able to talk to Mom for a minute or so this evening, and each of us told her how much she means to us. She was able to respond, and my brother told me she was smiling.

I told her how much I loved her, and how she had not only taught me to be a mensch, but that she was a wonderful example of one.

If a miracle happens and you’re able to read this, Mom, I know you’ll be embarrassed. And I don’t care. I love you.