Mom! Had I known…

The grievances of a man who had to go against his mother’s wishes to save her life.

I wish she could tell me if there was more that I could do. I stood a few feet away one day while she prayed. I stared earnestly. I’m not sure why I was staring. What was I looking for? A glimmer. A shimmering glimpse of hope, perhaps? That she’ll come back from where she was hiding. That she’d be able to tell me what happened to her years ago. She wasn’t the same Woman I once knew. If there’s anything more I could do, I would. Had I not done enough?

I still hope, she’ll someday forgive me for dragging her to the hospital. I dreaded going against her wishes. But she wouldn’t give in to seeking help. I contemplated for quite so long but in the end what had to be done, had to be done.

She clearly appeared unwell. Her eyes: sunken. Her arms and legs: withered and wrinkled. She could barely walk. Courageously, Mom would take a cab to the shopping mall for her needs, she’d be able to cross a busy highway street and sometimes walk alone into the city. Her eyesight: limited to up to 2 inches in front of her.

Will God punish me? Or was God waiting for ME to do something about this. Maybe…just maybe this was his biggest plan after all.

Mom admitted, “I can’t see much. I can only see what appears to be your shadow. That’s how I know you are around” Yet….she still dreaded seeing a Physician. She had faith in the lord; longing to be completely healed by the divine power of God.

I was very afraid. Afraid of going against my Mother’s wishes. I was afraid of what the implications of my actions meant in my own belief system. Would I go to hell for this act of insubordination? Will I be punished in some way? Or was God waiting for ME to make the effort to save Mom. Maybe, just maybe this was his biggest plan after all.

When Mom was diagnosed with Hyperthyroidism a week after I took her in, a huge sigh of relief came upon me; for knowing I was right all along. I finally discovered what was slowly killing her. The rapid weight-loss, hypertension and irritability were some of the symptoms that had manifested from the disease. Cataracts was the second illness. Mental illness was the 3rd known illness.

Schizophrenia was the diagnosis for her mental state of unwellness. The news was hard to swallow for me. Deep in that body was still Mom. When she smiled I knew it was more than obvious.

But she’d never be the same again, I was told. Yet, I still had hope. I hoped that none of this was true. A false hope, I know. But still fill myself with glee, for it could happen any day from now

Mom didn’t trust anyone, not even a nurse to cater to her. After 2 weeks, the nurse stopped visiting due to Mom’s wishes. She fought me daily, when it was time to take her medication. I had to trick her. I had to promise her everyday, “Today will be the last time you’d have to take these pills.” She was kind enough to believe me everytime. Lying to Mom was difficult to swallow but I had to do it. It helped a lot that she was mentally unwell, which made coercion not as difficult.

As the months rolled by, I began to experience episodes of mental fatigue for the first time in my life. The kind of fatigue that stems from worry and stress. That type of stress that is the result of built up anger and frustration. Frustration from working so hard to reach an insurmountable goal.

Then I saw progress. The evidence I needed. I was right. I knew what was best for her. It was working. The results were clear as night and day. The weight-gain. Her vision completely restored — besides the redness in her eyes from damaged corneas; an unexpected complication resulting from a botched procedure.

But, I was still in a dilemma. Perplexed and ashamed that I had doubted God and his divine power. On the other hand, proud of being able to stand for what I believed in. What was I supposed to believe in? Medicine or God? God had taken too long. 10 years is quite a long wait. I really had to try another approach.

If I was wrong about the decision I made, then hell becomes me and that’s something I had to live with.

I’d clearly overlooked one of the most inevitable facts of life; that we will all die one day. Each and every one of us. Some sooner than others. We can’t do much else to prevent that.

Taking care of mom required a huge adjustment in my life. I had to get used to a new type of life stressor: dealing with the illness of a loved one. It felt like caring for a child but isn’t that a conundrum because I am the child, aren’t I?

You see, I never thought in a quadrillion years that it would come to this. I had imagined that Mom would age gracefully — well into her 80’s. But not so soon. Too soon, perhaps. Much too soon for me.

I’d clearly overlooked one of the most inevitable facts of life; that we will all die one day. Each and every one of us. Some sooner than others. We can’t do much else to prevent that.

Often times, we’re unwilling to give up what we have (work, family and leisure), nor are we willing to sacrifice our personal time and energy to get the job done. I had to give up my entire life and everything I was working towards to get my Mom back on track.

Grandma had a lot of inspiring words. I remember as a kid, she’d scold me every time she caught me playing around; to put the video games away and focus on studying. She had this saying back then “Had I known, is always at last.” She’d go into a spill about how important it was to not play so much. Another popular phrase was “Opportunity once lost is never regained.”

It’ll take several years to realize what any of those words meant.

I find it thought-provoking, how when we (as humans) find it difficult to put our best foot forward in times when a loved one is in need.

Often times, we’re unwilling to give up what we have (work, family and leisure), nor are we willing to sacrifice our personal time and energy to get the job done. I had to give up my entire life and everything I was working towards to get my Mom back on track.

These days, I find myself not sure of what I believe in anymore. I wonder if this woman — deep down inside — thinks I’m a good son to her.

To put oneself in a place where you’re fully responsible of another’s life, requires a lot of determination and a whole lot more if it’s your own parent. A lot of faith and and a series of thought-inducing “What if” scenarios.

What if….you had to abruptly leave work?

What if….you had to miss work because of Mom’s doctor appointment?

What if…you’d oversleep and miss project deadlines?

What if…you couldn’t pick up an important phone call because you were unfortunately stuck in the dead zone section of a hospital and that call went straight to voicemail?

What if…when you called back that potential client had found someone else for the job?

What if…your partner noticed the sudden change in your mood. You weren’t the same person anymore and left one day?

What if….you were angry majority of the time but couldn’t figure out why?

What if….you ended up losing everything because you had to choose what was more important: Her health and recovery Vs the dream business that was finally taken off?

But what if…I told you that I suffered through all of the above, yet have not one single regret?

For I knew that if I had to leave things as they were…I would look back in despair when it all ended

and had to say, “Had I known, that Mom wasn’t going to get better but needed an intervention, I would have done better to save her.”

Too late….“Opportunity once lost is never regained.”

Papaa Spio-Garbrah loves almost every sport, happy hours, nightlife, geek and nerd culture. He’s not much of a reader but surprisingly writes fairly well. Follow me on facebook