I Love You, Mom - I Always Have and I Always Will

by Estelle
(Salem, OR)

My beautiful Mom left at 93 on May 21, 2012. I had been her sole caretaker since she fell at the end of 2009, but also worked full time and regret every moment now that I was not with her 24/7 since I had the resources to do so. We have always lived together and I had come home for lunch every day for the last two years. We went out almost every weekend to shop and sometimes for dinner, and even went on an Alaskan cruise last summer, but it wasn't enough. Mom suffered through shingles early this year because I was so busy with a company merger that I forgot to get her shingles vaccine. We caught the rash with the antiviral, but there was still intense pain. Then at the end of April, she apparently contracted a UTI that turned into an Ecoli infection in her blood. We had a beautiful brunch on a river boat on Mother's Day. She had been looking forward to it and seemed to enjoy the day even though I knew she wasn't feeling well. The next day I took her to a party to see her friends and that afternoon went to work. She needed me to come home almost as soon as I got there, but I put her off, got distracted with work and ended up being gone for more than four hours. The next day she said she really didn't want me to go to work. It broke my heart - I was trying to wind down my workload so we could have a lot more free time by the end of May. Instead of seizing the moment that day, I went off to work to take care of deadlines -- gone for two hours, home for lunch, then gone for more than four hours. That night late, Mom was in atrial fibrillation and I had to call the ambulance. The Ecoli infection wasn't determined until her third day in the hospital. Everything was positive for her return home, but severe mistakes were made by staff and doctors and at the end of the fourth day, I was told her organs were shutting down. The fifth day, she seemed a bit better, and the sixth day her white blood count dropped dramatically and I was encouraged. The team doctor who never even spoke with my Mom told me I was only looking at one number and left. After a stronger antibiotic was put on her IV, Mom congested and lost consciouness. The DNR order was revoked and CPR brought her back strong. The doctor reappeared and tried to show me Mom's chart. I needed to be with Mom and was convicted to give her a chance on life support, but the doctor was indicating not to and the nurse told me I would probably have to make a "tougher" decision in a few days and that Mom couldnt' communicate with me after she was intubated. It felt like I was kicked in the knees, I swayed and turned down the life support so Mom and I could talk. She tried, but couldn't say anything. I traded a few minutes for a possible
chance. Now three months later, our own doctor who never came to the hospital, says her kidney levels were "low," but she might have had a chance. I would have been so grateful if only she had another week or a couple of months. We were just about to start going through our many photo albums and had little day trips planned when good weather came at the end of May. My work wound down just as I had planned, so I have all the time in the world for Mom and she is not here to spend it with. My heart is numb and I have lost interest in everything, including my career. I feel I betrayed Mom by not spending more time with her. She was my best friend and loved me unconditionally. I can't forgive myself for not being here more and ultimately for the wrong decision on the ventilator - I worry she may not have realized that I loved her with all my heart, but I always had and always will.


Comments for I Love You, Mom - I Always Have and I Always Will

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Sep 15, 2012
Reply to Doreen and Jillian
by: Estelle

Doreen and Jillian - Thank you for responding. Your comments are most caring. I am so sorry to Doreen for losing your husband and to Jillian for your Mom. My ultimate decision not to put Mom on the ventilator hurts so much at times, I'm not sure I will make it through. I try very hard to remember the good times we spent together, but can't help thinking she might be here "if only" I'd made better decisions at the end. Estelle

Sep 15, 2012
I Love you Mom - I Always have and I Always will.
by: Doreen U.K.

Estelle I am sorry for your loss of your mother. I don't think you should beat yourself up with guilt over what you think you should have done for your mother. From what you say you have done so many things for her and took her places even when she didn't want to stay, you still made an effort for her. It doesn't matter how many things we have done for our mothers we will always feel we could have done something more, or better. I am sure our mother's wouldn't have thought so. Moms on the whole realise their Adult children have a life to live and are usually very happy to hear accounts of how their children are doing. It is the constant contact and phone calls that are memorable and remembered. You had committments to do and mother's realise this. When you are with someone too much it can also become a problem. People have to have some space. We can become crowded and smothered if we as moms get too much attention. We feel we can't breathe. You had so much interaction with your mom she will have known how much you loved her. I think the guilt you feel is part of your grief and may just work itself out. But if it doesn't then go and see a grief counsellor. One shouldn't hold onto grief where it affects our life and stops us moving on. We all need to do different things in our life. If you spent too much time with your mother it would become monotonous and the experience would have lost some of its value, importance and being precious. It is the quality time we spent with others that is important and not the quantity. I hope that you will be able to process what I have said and that you will soon start to feel less guilty. Your job is important for your own living. My husband had to work all over the world and we saw little of him. When it was time for him to retire and spend quality time with us as a family. HE DIED 4 months ago of cancer. He was 65ys. and we were married 44yrs. He lived with REGRETS that he was going to die and wished he spent more time with his family. But he had to earn a living the best way he could. That was good enough for me. I do feel cheated of time we could have spent with each other. But it was not meant to be.

Sep 14, 2012
Be gentle with yourself
by: Jillian

Dear Estelle,

Please accept my heartfelt condolences on the sad passing of your mum. My mum passed May 22 2012 so my pain is very raw too, I was an only daughter too.

Estelle, you must stop blaming yourself for circumstances that were out of your control. When you were focusing on your work you did not know your mum did not have much time left (even pallative care doctors dont always get it right). The time you did spend with her sounds delightful so focus on those beautiful memories and all those special conversations. This is what she would have wanted. I blamed myself for having an operation shortly before I lost mum, but I try to accept I did not know I was going to lose her so quickly.

I would urge you to speak to the doctor in charge of her care as it sounds like there are some questions that need answering. The medical profession have a duty of care to give of their best so please do not hesitate if you feel you and your mum were let down.

I too hope that my mum knew how much I adored her too. I am trying to keep to a routine for the sake of my disabled brother who I care for.It is my humble legacy to a wonderful mum.

Hoping you can continue on lifes journey remembering the good times with your mum Estelle.
Please stop blaming yourself its not what your mum would want. If you wish to contact me my e mail is jillianrcohen@hotmail.com. Whatever you decide I wish you well.

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