Playing my cards

I wrote this a few weeks after my mom passed. I imagine I’d want some sort of record of my thoughts during this tumultuous time.

When my mom was originally diagnosed with her second bout of breast cancer she was not afraid to play the cancer card.  Yes, she had cancer and no, she would not let it inhibit her lifestyle but when push came to shove she would remind people that she did have this awful disease growing inside her.  She rarely reminded her kids that she had cancer, often it had to do with sharing her car or having us over for dinner.  Upon her most recent diagnosis of a more advanced and severe cancer, she would tell operators of her condition in the hopes of having a late fee waived or  service expedited.  Other times she would remind us of her cancer as a joke.  “Not bad for a woman with stage VIII cancer,” she had said just months ago at my brother’s wedding, referring to her two stage IV cancers that should have taken over years ago. 

Just a few weeks ago she was stuck in a 1940s style hospital in the south of India and I could tell she was slightly enjoying the adventure.  The funkiness and primitive equipment would have frightened most people, but my mom spoke of how nice the nurses, who were called sisters, were and the how even her hotel manager was helping her with faxes.  By the time she transferred to the hospital in Delhi, she was becoming tired with being in India but still remained positive and praised the hospital staff.  As she directed me on how to handle her affairs in New York, from paying the mortgage to making sure her airline miles were reinstated, she encouraged me to tell people that she was in a hospital in India, and play up the diseases if necessary.  So I did, with a secret smirk.  If she was going to be laid up, I might as well take advantage of the nominal perks that come with it. 

I smiled with her across the telephone thinking that she would be home shortly and this entire adventure would be reduced to an anecdote. I fear that soon it will be my anecdote.

With an air ambulance waiting on the tarmac to bring her home, my
mom passed away. In the two weeks since the awful news, I have used her
passing as an opportunity to take a step back from a few
responsibilities, and not always with a smirk. When trying to get oil
delivered to her house, I told the operator that between my sister and
I, we had three kids, three dogs, were twelve months pregnant and were
mourning our mom while disguising a smile. Later, when I was
rescheduling my daughter’s pediatrician appointment and struggled to
commit to a time in the afternoon, I held back tears as I explained my

My grandmother, who is holding up surprisingly well, is worried that
she may not be able to give her building staff their Christmas bonuses
on time. I told her if there was ever a year to be late, this was it,
and no one was going to turn down a cash gift. Perhaps she is trying
harder than me to stay with her routine and move forward. I know I
can’t push away my problems and responsibilities, but that doesn’t mean
I have to tackle them immediately. Hence, blogging has taken a back
seat to taking care of my basic necessities that remain a struggle.
With this tragedy, I have a grace period and a few leniencies that I
know my mom would want me to cash in.


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