Saturday, November 26, 2005


My mom has been diagnosed with congestive heart failure. The doctor sent her straight from his office to the hospital yesterday and within 5 minutes she was hooked up to 4 different machines. He told her that the CHF was a result of untreated high blood pressure. Her blood pressure was 190/120 when she was admitted.

I think about how Father Charlie talked to me a few months ago about the possibility of being a vehicle of God's grace for my mom by telling her I loved her at the end of our weekly phone conversations. I told him I couldn't. I wasn't willing. I didn't think she deserved it in light of how intense my anger was towards her at that moment. I wanted her to pay for her screw ups for a while yet. If they were causing me such intense emotional pain then why the hell would I want to let her off the hook?

It's amazing what a 24 hour time period can do to change a person's mind.

I am more than willing to extend grace now. This does not mean that I deny the effects of her actions or inactions in my life. That would make a mockery of not only sin but of grace as well. I do feel God is extending grace in this moment to me so that I may extend grace to her now. I give God thanks that I am writing this while she is still alive to receive it.

I was an adult before I heard the words "I love you" from either of my parents. And I have never heard it come spontaneously from their lips. Growing up I was so confused as to whether my parents loved me or not that I often asked my younger brother if he thought they loved us. He didn't know either. I often stood outside their closed bedroom door, wanting to knock and say "I love you", or ask if they loved me but I didn't have the courage. I didn't want to risk the possible rejection.

Before I hung up the phone tonight I said to my mom, "I love you." Over the years of saying this to her in person my mom has progressed from replying, "Me, too" to "I love you, too" said in a voice laced with a hint of hysteria and warning bells. A tone of voice reminding me in code that we don't talk like that in our family, it's too touchy feely and unpredictable. Tonight her reply was heart felt when she told me that she loved me, too. We both know that although death comes to us all, death may be coming sooner than later now. The uncertainty has shifted places.

I have always thought my mom would live to be an old lady. And who knows, she may yet. At age 67 she has a ways to go before I would consider her elderly. Her mother and aunts lived into their 90's. What prevented my mom accepting treatment for her high blood pressure was that her own mother, at age 90, began treatment for high blood pressure and experienced terrible side effects from the medication. She was convinced that the side effects were permanent and she didn't want to live with them so she took her own life. My mom and her twin sister didn't want to chance that fate so they took the risks that went with high blood pressure over the alternative.

There is much left unsaid between my mom and I. I'm praying that God gives me wisdom to sort through what must be said and what is better left unsaid. Lord have mercy.

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