Saturday, 4 August 2012

Looking back

I have just returned from a week away with my family down to the south coast of England.  Hastings to be more specific. And while I don't think Hastings is the best holiday destination in the world, the weather wasn't too bad (for England) and all in all I had a good time.  This blog however, is not about the joys of my holiday or me informing you what we got up to, its about the thoughts that went through my mind while I was there.

Don't stop reading, I don't intend to bore you with a blow by blow account but I do warn you that it's going to be an emotional one. So where to start?

We left on the Thursday (a day early but we like to start things off early in our household) and spent the night in a Premier Inn in Aylesbury which is about 40 miles outside of London.  It was a good night and in true Davies fashion we sat outside in the dark, drinking a few drinks and generally having a good time.  A whole week away by the sea in the sun (hopefully) was beckoning so the moods were high and the laughter and wine was flowing.

Friday morning at round about 7.30 my phone rang.  We were up and had just finished breakfast, intending to get an early start and hopefully miss the traffic that I was expecting to find on the M25 as it was Olympic day in London and I expected it to be crazy.  I had no idea who could be phoning me so early on the first 'official' day of my holiday so imagine my surprise when I answered and heard the voice of my sister-in-law, Lynette, all the way from New Zealand.  A call at that time - and it being nobody's birthday - set off an alarm bell in my head and rightfully so.

She was phoning me with news that my mother was in intensive care in a hospital back in South Africa.  Something about gall stones and gall bladder and for the life of me (having had galls stones myself and my gall bladder removed a few years ago) I could not understand why she was in ICU?
Needless to say, the good mood spiralled right down and I spent the second half of the trip towards Hastings in a funk trying to reach my dad and find out what exactly was going on.  As my parents still live in South Africa its so frustrating that I am unable to run to her bedside when things like this happen and the helplessness I feel is crushing.  It must be just as frustrating for my bother and sister-in-law who live in New Zealand, who like me, were now scrambling around to obtain whatever information they could.  Later, I spoke to my brother and he said he had spoken to a nurse and she indicted that there was some liver damage too.  What the f*ck?  Just what the hell does that mean??

My dad was always the one we expected the bad news from.  Without meaning to sound harsh, but that's just the way it is.  He worked for decades underground and smoked for even longer and has been diagnosed with all kinds of lung problems, leftover issues from his career in the mines and his smoking habit.  It's not unusual for my mom to tell me my dad is not feeling well or is having problem breathing every now and then, so to hear that my mom is in the Intensive Care Unit with gall stone and liver problems was frankly, mind blowing.

Knowing that we were on holiday and not wanting to spoil things for everyone else, I put a smile on my face and attempted to enjoy the first day of our holiday.  I kept telling myself that it was only gall stones, like I mentioned, I have had the same problem and have been through the same operation and I had absolutely no after effects from the removal of my gall bladder, so my mom was going to be just fine. Right?

The next day, the news was even worse.  I received a text from my dad informing me that my mom has Cirrhosis of the Liver and to let my brother know.  We were travelling at the time when the text came through and I felt the bottom of my world drop out of me as I read it.    This could not be right.  My mother doesn't drink!  They must have made a mistake. I called my dad, just to confirm he hadn't made a mistake but there you go, it is what it is.  My mother has Diabetes and they suspect that the insulin and medication she uses to treat this has led to the liver damage and cirrhosis and life just fucking sucks right now doesn't it?

I called my brother and struggled over the words, stuttering and mumbling, not wanting to say them, because saying the words out loud would make them real. I can only imagine how my brother would have struggled to tell me the same thing.

Not to dwell on this subject too long, I can tell you that my mom is home now and is in good spirits. I spoke to her when she was out of ICU and in a normal ward and she was being kept in a few more days just to finish her antibiotics and she was feeling much better.  They are now awaiting test results back to see how bad her liver is and how treatable it is.  According to the doctors, if caught in the early stages it is highly treatable and she will be fine.  Here is hoping.  She has not been a diabetic her whole life...she was diagnosed about 8 or 9 years ago and as the diabetes got worse, the medication got stronger so I am hoping that its only the latest round of medication that has caused the damage and not years worth of it.  We will have to wait to hear what the prognosis is.

This bad, unexpected news however, did a funny thing to my head.  It made me dwell.  It made me look back and all the time while we were away on holiday I kept reminiscing.  Back to when I was a child, to memories buried in my head with my parents and my brother.  How lucky I am to have the life I have, the family I have and the wonderful memories I have accumulated over the years.  But mostly, it got me focusing on my own family and how much I love them.  
How much I love my husband and I found myself watching him and cataloguing all the wonderful things he is and does. How well he takes care of us, his polite nature when he drives, small things like how he will stop and allow people to go ahead of him, how he always has his hands in his pockets handing out money to the kids and will buy me and them whatever we wish for.  How selfless he is and always makes sure that everyone has what they need before he thinks of himself.  But his most endearing quality, that he is so easily pleased.  Give him a piece of meat, a fire to cook it on and a beer in his hand, and he is happy as Larry and giddy as punch.  I noted all this and wondered why I hadn't taken note of them before.

My daughter and how grateful I am that we have the bond that we do.  Many people were surprised that my 18 year old daughter still wanted to go on holiday with us and I wondered about this too.  But there you go, it is what it is.  She and I share almost a supernatural ESP.  We think the same and feel the same.  She confides in me on almost everything and we are like mirror images of each other in our mannerisms and actions.  She is loving and attentive and a beautiful person and I found myself looking at her and wondering how I got so lucky to have such an amazing child.  Yes, I admit, I am biased, but aside from the moodiness that sometimes descends upon her I still feel that she is the best daughter anyone could ever ask for.

As for my son, I marvel at his loving nature.  He may be oblivious to a lot of things, but his kind hearted and loving nature is so endearing.  He does anything anyone asks of him without a whisper of a complaint and his ready smile and loving arms he wraps around me from time to time make me marvel on how I got so lucky?  His happy-go-lucky nature is inspiring too and I should take a feather from his cap and learn not to dwell on the negative side of things so much.

I am in love with all of them.  I don't know how I got so lucky to have such incredible people in my life. My mom and dad, my brother, sister-in-law, my nephews, my ex mother-in-law who I still love dearly, my friends, and there are so many of them but a special mention to Maggie and Paul and I also love dearly, but mostly for Pete, Alycia and Morn√©.  You make my life worth living.

Mommy, please get better.  I love you so much and cannot bear that you are ill.



Unknown said...

Hey sis
yes its times like this that lets one think, and then (I) start to wonder or regret not being there for Mom and Dad and the "guilt" that goes with those feelings. Its always regrettable that the "right" choice for yourself sometimes has a negative effect on those close to you.
side note: if things do turn bad, then we (Between you and me) must make a plan to get one of us there in a hurry.
love u always

Veronica Stewart said...

Ok I'll hold my hands up, I did take a while to read this blog. Knowing that my head/heart was not quiet in the right place to deal with what I was sure was in this blog. Gratefully I today found the courage to read this.
Although the inevitable tears did come, as I read this, I know your feelings and am proud that you were able to reflect on the positive, acknowledge the blessings in the people who fill your life, and know that most of all you are loved and do love. Another touching blog B! well done

Molly said...

I couldn't agree more with Veronica. Another touching blog, and I was glad to hear you were able to continue your vacation even in the face of bad news. I think the big red heart icon says it all: you are at the center of a thriving, loving family. And I wish your Mom all the best.

Anonymous said...

What can I say??? I am fine and I wish you would all stop worring about me. Please I have said this so many times, NEVER feel guilty about choices you have made. One thing That warms my heart is the fact that you have come to the realization of just how much your own family means to you. Never stop telling them you love them. Be it family or friends. I love you all. The Burlisons and the Davies/Bezuidenhouts..

Your ever loving Mom xxxxxxxxxxxx

Jane Isaac said...

Such a touching piece, B. Very sorry to hear of your mother's illness. My thoughts are with you, my friend. I do hope that good news comes your way soon. x

Katy Huth Jones said...

Bernadette, I'm so sorry I'm just now reading this. I'm glad your mom is better and I hope she can be treated successfully. And it sounds like you found a new appreciation for love and life in the midst of sorrow and darkness. That is a priceless gift to come from your mom's illness! :)

Unknown said...

Keeping up the prayers. Hoping your mom is feeling better now. I know you have grown so much in your faith during this time of trials. * hugs * Hang in there.


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