I moved to Florida after my mom passed away on Thanksgiving Day2009. I took care of my mom after three unsuccessful marriages. I told my mom I would be the one man who would never let her down. I decided to have her live with me after she retired as a 44 year veteran registered nurse. Mom as an officer in the Army was the first group of relief nurses in Pearl Harbor. Although I never met my father (he walked out before I was one years old) he too was in Pearl Harbor in the Navy. His job was to recover the bodies in the water and take them to the morgue at the hospital. That is how my mother and father met.
In the economy collaspe of 2008 I was a successful paver contractor in California. Paver work being closely tied to the housing market, when the economy turned it was like someone just turned off the water. Jobs I had already completed and waiting to be paid for were dragging out, being stiffed, or putting me on long delays. This started the depletion of my own personal assets to make payroll, fund fuel costs, purchase materials, and fix repairs. I thought all along that I was the only singular failure not realizing the enormous scope of this nationwide delimma. After realizing that the income stream I was used to was no longer going to provide financial stability I had to let some real estate go back to the banks. I eventually lost my savings, all my asetts, and my my hope.
The hardest part for me at that time was to tell my mom we had to make again the decision where to live and would have to let other properties go. I told mom to think about where she wanted to live and I would honor her choice. My moms choice was to move back home to Ocean City, Maryland which we did.
My older sister decided she would drive cross country with mom and get her set up while I shut down my business. In the moving process my mom who was diabetic forgot to renue her perscriptions and ran out not saying anything about needing medications to my sister. One day my sister noticed my mom acting lethargic and took her to the hospital. The staff in the ER could not even believe she was standing and immediately forced her to sit in a wheelchair with blood pressure over 200. This hospital visit led to the medical discovery that my mom needed to have carotid artery surgery.
My sister to not worry me more went ahead with my moms surgery without notifying me. When my sister finally called and told me mom was in the hospital and had surgery but everything was okay my immediate thoughts were to get back to mom asap.
I flew to Maryland and was happily greeted at the door with my mom in tears crying "I am so happy you are here."
Somewhere however along this procedure my mom acquired C diff. It was in a nursing home, where my mom stayed to complete the required week long, strong medication necessary for C diff that I started to notice changes. One morning when I visited mom I noticed her staring at the ceiling. When I asked what she was looking at in the ceiling she replied,
" They are bringing roses for me."
I simply let it go thinking it had to be the medications playing with her. After coming home from the nursing home new issues starting happening. For the next week I would need to drive my mom to a clinic to have water removed from her lungs because she could not breath.
In Ocean City I rented an ocean front two bedroom condo so my mom could have a peaceful view of the water and beach goers everyday. Before moving in I took mom to see the condo for her approval. When we entered the condo your eyes go right to the beach directly straight ahead and what was right infront was a beautiful rainbow. We looked at each other and said that's a good sign.
For work in Ocean City I owned a small surf decorated sub shop.
This gave me the flexibility to leave and go see mom several times throughout the day and take her meals. One day I went to our condo to find my mom staring towards to ocean with her right hand index finger pointing to the sky. Puzzled I asked her what she was pointing to ? You must understand my mom was very smart, she skipped grades in school, was an Army Officer, never swore, never lied, always kind and generous, and was certainly not a prankster. My mom looked at me and said, "The Angels are here for me." I wish I was as smart as my mom because I still was not getting the hint.
Later that night as usual my mom told me she was going to go stretch out. That was her que that she was going to bed. The next day she could talk and respond but not well. The next day even less till finally we needed to get her to hospice. We left hospice and I prayed God would keep her alive until I returned the next morning. When we returned the next morning I spoke to the doctor and asked how long she had to live? He responded it was not in his hands, could be an hour, a day, a month. My sister and I along with mom's beloved dog Buddy were all in the room when I remembered something my mom had told me. She would tell me hospital stories of horrible accidents where the patient was comatose. Mom said that even though a patient cannot respond to the voice that they can still hear you. I put Buddy on her bed and let him see and smell her one last time, then my sister had her quiet moment and now it was my turn. Fighting every squeek to produce sound I whispered in my moms ear how proud of her I was and thanked her for all the support throughout the hardtimes and struggles. I told her I kept my promise to be the one man who would never let her down and in tears told her it was time for me to stand down. I told mom God would take over now and that my last request is, once you are in heaven just give me a sign you are okay. In closing my goodbye to mom I said, if you are hanging on for us, you do not need to fight anymore, we are okay, and if you are ready, you can let go. As God is my witness, my mom took one last long deep breath again and never exhaled.
My sister settled the Hospice paperwork for my mom having donated her body to science. When my sister and I returned to the condo I went to my room and she stayed in the living room until my sister screamed for me to come out. Being startled I said what's wrong and she said, "look" and pointed to a beautiful rainbow directly in front of the condo. Thing is, my sister never knew the about the first rainbow. I grabbed my camera and quickly took a picture before it disappeared. I later that day wrote a poem for my mom and placed the poem on the rainbow picture. (If you are interested to read the poem it is on my Facebook pictures.)
I had now hit rock bottom, I lost two homes, my life savings, all my asetts, my girlfriend, my passion, my hope, and now sadly of all, my mom. I am a lonely wandering 6'2" zombie. The sub shop is closed because Ocean City summers are seasonal. So I spent endless days walking around crying with Buddy playing in the snow on the beach. He still looks for her to this day.
Prior to mom passing I had been contacted through Facebook from a girl I did not know. She asked me if I was the Chip Righter that played ice hockey in the Chesapeake Hockey League at the Orchard Ice Rink. I answered yes and she went on to explain she was the wife of a childhood friend of mine.
My mothers second marriage was filled with ugliness and fighting. Mom worked the night shift at the newly opened GBMC ( Greater Baltimore Medical Center). My step father often tried to molest my sister which would then wake me up and begin pushing and shoving matches. My stepfather once set a pillowcase on fire in my sister's room to then claim my sister and her girlfriend were smoking and that is how the fire started. My mom knew the truth because she taught us to never lie to her and knew we never would. My stepfather was rarely around and never helped mom finacially. One day coming home from school I noticed all our furniture was in the front yard? Being our house was the closed to the bus stop the kids asked "whats all your stuff doing in the yard?"
I just answered we're getting all new stuff. That was the first time I ever saw my mom cry, head bowed low on the yellow phone in the kitchen. The house was being foreclosed.
We moved into an apartment complex where the tenants above us was also a single mother nammed Tanna of two boys. I spent lots of time upstairs learning many lesson's from Ms.Tanna. It was a place to go when my mom was sleeping during the day waiting to go to work. Ms.Tanna became a second mother for me and Mr.Bob the only father figure I ever knew. The inquiring girl is now the wife of one of those two boys.
The boys upstairs and I played everyday and became very fond of their mother's boyfriend, a tv and radio personality popular in Baltimore named Bob Callahan.
Bob soon married Tanna and they and the boys shortly moved away. From my beginning hockey career and the boys moving away we lost contact for years. Colleen contacted me just weeks before my mother passing. In the excitement of being reunited and knowing that my mother had just passed I was invited to come to Florida to mourn.
I have spent the last four years spending daily time with my adopted parents, playing cards, having supper, visiting new friends. Although I was easing the pain of losing my mom another chapter was about to begin. Mr.Bob has prostate cancer. This battle has been going on for 20 years. This is a man who is the epitome of integrity, a man I always tried to emulate. When I first got to Florida he would ride his 10 speed bike 33 miles a day at age 73. Having that he was President of his class, captain of the football team, captain of the lacross team, this was not unusual.
We spent everyday driving around to doctor appointments, dunkin donuts, going to the grocery store to get on the scale and take blood pressure readings, going to the dog park etc. I was his driver, what ever he wanted to do, we did. Sadly last week I lost Mr.Bob to prostate cancer. We often talked about this disease and educated ourselves to new or holistic cures. Ironically,
I am here sharing my life with you because recently I too have been diagnosed with prostate cancer and am scheduled for a radical prostatectomy in Orlando with Dr. Patel on September 30, 2014.
I am currently working and have insurance but am well short of the up front $500.00 deposit and $3,000.00 insurance deductible. The other money needed is to cover incoming medical bills and tests.
Doing charity work, the greatest thing I often notice about Americans' is the kindness and hearts of the people.
My mom always loved and collected angels, today I am hoping and praying some are watching over me.
Thank you for caring.
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