Saturday, 2 August 2014

Civic Holiday Weekend

The first Monday of August is the Civic Holiday in Canada, another summer long weekend. As I’ve not worked for many years, weekends, long or not, don’t seem much different to me than weekdays.

This holiday is one I tend to ignore as it’s forever linked with my Mother’s death, twenty years ago August 2nd.

Mom had been battling cancer for a number of years, had been through surgery twice. In June of that year it was discovered that she had a metastatic brain tumour. My kids and I had made the trip to Florida in July, the majority of my time spent taking her to doctors and for radiation treatments.

When we left I knew her time was limited, but I didn’t know how limited. She had my sister with her for a week after we left, and was then on her own. The treatments made her weak, and on July 29th she fell, and ultimately ended up in hospital.

I talked to one of her nurses, nurse to nurse, and was advised that the family should come, sooner rather than later. My brother flew down on the weekend and I had my plane ticket for Wednesday. I had arrangements to make before I could leave for an indefinite length of time. This was not a trip I was going to make with the kids so my daughter was staying with a friend and my son was at his Dad’s. I was in charge of the facility where I worked and could turn over all responsibility to my boss right after the holiday.

Tuesday morning, I was sitting in my office, trying to complete tasks before I left, when the phone rang. I heard my Mother’s voice, weak and shaky, say my name. It was hard to understand much of what she was said, except the words “I love you” that came through loud and clear.

She must have tired, for my brother took the phone and came on the line, apologizing for blindsiding me like that. He told me that Mom wouldn’t settle until she’d spoken with me, and he’d seen no other option but to call. I reassured him that it was okay and said I’d see him in the next day.

I made my way to my boss’s office before I lost control and ended up sitting in her office crying. She jumped into action, asking me where my ticket was and sending someone back to my office when I answered it was in my purse.

While I cried she called the airlines, found me another flight leaving in two hours and had me a seat booked along with a rental car. I was leaving for Florida. I called my daughter, who packed my bags which were, thankfully, organized for the next day, and she had me to the airport in record time.

I still don’t have much recollection of that first leg of the journey, but well remember the lay-over in Atlanta. I couldn’t sit still and paced the airport from one end to the other, as if my pacing would make the time go faster.

When I finally got on the plane they were playing quiet music with the screen showed serene nature scenes. It was too much and I sat in my seat, the tears running down my face. Once we landed in Tampa I was once again in control. A woman, sitting across the aisle with her father, had been watching me and voiced her concerns.

I explained my situation and appreciated her kind words. Now I needed to find the rental car reserved for me and make the more than an hour’s drive to the hospital. I was functioning on nervous energy and didn’t look forward to driving a strange car, on unfamiliar roads, at night.

I was trying to find the car place when I heard my name called. I turned, saw my brother walking in my direction and knew the phone conversation I’d had with Mom that morning would be my last.

I wasn’t really surprised, and if I’d had a moment of clear thought since that call, I would have realized that Mom’s urgent need to speak to me was because she knew she was dying. I’m forever grateful that she insisted and that my brother helped her make the call.

We had a quiet trip back to Mom’s place, and a few laughs when he told me of the ‘discussion’ he’d had with my boss when he’d called me back at work to inform me of Mom’s passing.

Apparently my boss, and friend, informed him I was on my way to Florida, and he argued no, I was flying out Wednesday. I guess I should have called him about the change of plans but everything happened so fast.

So, here we are, another Civic Holiday, another anniversary. I’ll be thinking of you Mom, and as always, love you, and miss you. 

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