Those of you here for some sarcasm about NJ will have to wait a post or two.

This past weekend ended up a lot differently than I had planned, since Friday night we found out that my mom is getting ready to die. We were just about to get into the car to go to Long Beach Island when I got the news.

Advanced Ovarian Cancer.

Six doctors missed it. She had a bypass several years ago and had some problems with side effects with just about every medication she tried, so that was the wild goose chase everybody was on until the symptoms just became too obvious. Since ovarian cancer is not that common, and not that common for her age group, it wasn’t on anybody’s radar. None of us looked it up on WebMD before Friday. The realization that once symptoms are apparent (and these were apparent for a while but misjudged), it’s basically too late, made you sink when you read that paragraph.

We saw my mom in the hospital on Sunday. She was very tired, but in spirits that you wouldn’t expect. She would smile, she would laugh. No self-pity, no whining, and she would only cry when one of us did. She said flat-out that she accepted it and wasn’t going to be all “hopeful” that she’ll beat it. (In looking things up online, the survival rate at her stage for 5 years is 17 percent.) The worst case is going to the hospice, the best case is surgery, chemo and maybe a year or two more time.

Just in case, she wrote her obituary Saturday. She admitted it was wordy, but I thought it was good. Her take? “Well, your father has no idea about half of the things I did so I saved him the trouble”.

She was a little apprehensive about chemotherapy, especially the vomiting, but she said she would try it if the doctors recommended it. My advice for so many things is that “you have to do what’s best for you”.  She laughed. “In this case I have to do what’s best for Dad. He’s going to need a lot of training to make it on his own.” He can make breakfast, but other meals are a challenge, and he doesn’t know where anything is in the kitchen by his own admission.

She is one of the most clear-headed and practical women ever. She is fun to be around. Bright. Insightful. Analytical. Opinionated but could justify them. She traveled to most of the world at one point or another. When we were kids she could sum up what we were up to with alarming accuracy (save a couple of exceptions) and we thought we were being so stealthy.

She raised five kids and today we could still argue over which one she likes best as there is no clear proof. All of us are productive members of society and we all enjoy being together…a concept that could be considered abnormal these days. Part of that is personalities, but a big part is parenting.

She was also conscious of what it took to be a mother-in-law. If asked for advice, give it. If not, butt out. 4 out of 5 of us are married, two of us for over 25 years. My wife and I have never fought over something my mom did, said or omitted.

Since her quadruple bypass in 2004, she did really well until this January. She took trips, she saw our child, who was a baby in ’04, grow up a little bit and get to know her. She had fun. She had energy. We’re glad that she was here.

We’d like to have her here a little longer, but we’re also not kidding ourselves. Things don’t look too great at the moment.

We love you, Mom. You did a great job.

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