Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Back Story

Every good story will most likely have a back story—the story untold that is often the real story…the real message.  My story about my mom and the Quiet Room is one such story.  And I didn’t even know that there was a back story till I read Dana Murphy’s beautiful poetic writing called Moments, about catching those unexpected moments, those simple and often unobserved moments in the life of her daughter and mother.  I read her piece yesterday morning, hours after I wrote and published my piece.  I read her piece and cried a puddle of tears.  Crying in gratitude, actually.  You see, in January, days after I took my mom to the spa and returned to my life in Rochester, I almost lost my mom.  I thought my moments with her were to be no more.

The purpose for my trip to Cincinnati, besides giving my mom a spa day with me for her Christmas present, was to look at independent living residences with her so that she could begin to think about when and how to move into the next phase of her life.  Not so sure on her feet anymore, and suffering from many of the ailments that come with growing older, my mom was beginning to be open, with some trepidation, to moving to a residence that could provide her support.  Two days we looked at a variety of locations.  My sister, mom and I went from residence to residence comparing, discussing and thinking about a new chapter for my mom and for our family.

I returned to my home in Rochester in early January and talked to mom two days in a row about the possibilities and she ultimately decided that she wanted to sell her home before we made the decision.  So the move was on hold.  That was a Tuesday morning. 

On Saturday, in the late morning, I was co-facilitating a workshop and got a frantic text from first my brother-in-law and then another from my youngest sister, saying that my mom had fallen earlier in the week in the shower and she was discovered in her bathroom, probably four days after her fall.   Life stopped for me for a few minutes that afternoon.   Was she alive?  How hurt was she?  I thought my final moments with my mom were possibly over.  And I knew, at that poignant moment, that I was not ready for that reality.  I was 500 miles away, with no reliable information in that emergency hour, in a panic and unconsolably sad.  So I waited.  And I prayed.  And I hoped.  And I found myself cherishing those last chattering Quiet Room moments with her.  In mourning, hopeful silence.

Mom recovered.  She did not break any bones, but was in shock and trauma from laying on the shower floor.  In many ways the stars were aligned for supporting Mom through that terrible accident.  She was next to a heat register so she wasn’t cold.  Her positioning somehow kept her safer.  She had access to a bit of water.  She lived.

Fast forward to what is now about six weeks.  Intensive care, hospital stay, rehab, and moving to one of the independent/assisted living residences my sister and I looked at with mom during my December/January visit.  She is healthy and recovered.  And yesterday she celebrated her 83rd birthday.

Moments do count.  Embrace them.  Notice them.  Love them.  And love the one in the moment.  You never know when the moments disappear.  I am fortunate.  Mom and I have continued moments to share.  I will relish them with gratitude.

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for dedicating space and time for teachers and teachers of literacy to come together to share ideas, practice and life experience.


  1. Exactly right! We never know how many moments we have - all should be treasured. I'm happy that you get extended time to enjoy together!

  2. I'm glad that you had already had the moments to look at residences with your mom before needing one of them, Deborah. This is a good lesson for us, to savor the moments, and to embrace every one that comes our way. Happy Birthday to your mom!

  3. I had the same thoughts when I read Dana's piece. I lost my dad at the end of May. The day he died, I'd thought about stopping by his house, but thought I'd do it next week. There was no next week. I look at the time with my mom differently now. Fortunately we live in the same town. I will be patient and ready to do what ever she needs, because I know our time is short.

  4. What wise words. We had a similar situation when my mother was 79....she lived 150 miles from me...became ill...told no one...but fortunately her neighbor checked mother lived after having pancreatitis and gall bladder surgery...intensive care for days. It was then we discussed her moving in with me...the best decision we ever made. She lived until she was 90...and I never regret the days we had together. So glad your mother is doing well.

  5. I'm thinking of your mom, on her own for four days...and finding the strength to hold on. So glad she is well, and that you can enjoy many more special moments together.

  6. I continue to marvel at your grace and your strength. The year you've had, my friend. Love you xo.