Beating the Storm to Say Goodbye

I got a call on Tuesday that my birth mother is dying.  At least she was dying.  Because now she doesn’t seem to be.  She told me that she is not ready to go.  Those were the first words out of her mouth when I arrived in Charleston, SC on Friday.

I flew out of Chicago yesterday, my only prayer being “Get me there ahead of the hurricane….if it is your will.”  And so it was.

Pharen (my birth mom) has COPD.  And pneumonia.  She is 59 and to me, far too young to die.

Her body is bruised from multiple needle pokes and she is wearing oxygen 24/7.  But she is swearing.  And that is a good sign.

When I visited her later in the evening, she told me she wanted to hear some music.  I remembered that I had just downloaded Pandora on to my smart phone and I turned to the Joni Mitchell station.  After a few bars she asked me for Motown.  We are from Detroit after all.  I danced to Natalie Cole, “This Will Be An Everlasting Love.”  The wooden heels of my orange suede booties echoing on the linoleum floor.  I held her hand and we danced.

“You brought a lot of sunshine into my life….You gave me happiness I never knew…And nothing, nothing can take the place of you….”

I closed the door when I got a funny look from the nurse.  She asked to hear The Platters.  And then I showed her a photograph from a recent visit with my birth dad.  She reminded me that he was the love of her life for many, many years.

I told her I had to go.   I knew in that moment that we were complete no matter what happened.  She asked me to bring her chocolate milk in the morning.

I did that today.  But I forgot her Walkman ( Yep. A Walkman) and her cellphone.  I will bring that to her later.

Today I massaged her feet and her legs and her back.  And I told her about a cute boy I met in a church basement here who knows all of my friends in Chicago.  She gave me a double thumbs up.   And I left again….for a little while.



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