In 2006, on July 31, my mother died from cancer. It was officially liver cancer, but it had metastasized and that is what killed her. I will say that she had excellent care and our family looked after her as well as we could. I made a promise with her that she would not be alone and that I would do anything within my power to help her. Interestingly, even though she was pro-euthanasia, when she was terminal she never once raised the subject at all.
When it comes to my saying I would be there for my mother, promise made, promise kept. I was the only one with her. That was hard, but in looking at events afterward, my sister and I realized there were abusive elements in her relationship with her husband; we compared notes and noticed some troubling events. Good people do not leave patients under chemotherapy alone after a session so they can go to their usual social events. They also do not take a cold-water hose to a dog in March because said dog will not stop barking.
Good people also don’t lie about a will ‘going missing’ at a lawyer’s office in an effort to create a crisis to control people’s perceptions of the family members. These things all happened under my mother’s husband’s watch – and more that I will not get into.
It says something that the first time I met my mother’s husband he told me he had eight children – and only three talked to him. That’s not a good batting average for a parent. Yet if I said anything, I would have been painted the villain.
Just in case you think I am exaggerating, I learned from my mother in 2005 that her husband was trying to ‘have me locked up for being crazy’. On hearing this I told my mother that I would see her as usual on the Sunday after working all night.
When I arrived at the house, she looked scared and he disappeared into his office muttering something and slamming the door closed until it was time for me to go. I have never seen my mother so scared.
However, nothing came of this threat. I understand he found little to no support on this effort of his. I also learned he systematically isolated my mother’s colleagues and friends and tried to do the same with my sister and myself. When that didn’t work he turned to threats.
One family friend and I were on the phone and I casually pointed out that I apparently met mum’s husband’s mistress in the hospital. The response after a silence was ‘…leave it to you to figure things out like this…’ so you can see there is much more going on here than meets the eye.
After it was said to me that the will ‘went missing’ from the lawyer’s office, it turned out that said lawyer never knew my mum died: her husband never told the lawyer even though they were in the same town. It also turned out that the will did not go missing after all: the lawyer had it all along. And that happened the day of the funeral.
So there was a complicated situation, but it was resolved finally in 2008 but there were costs. I haven’t spoken to my sister since late 2006. And from October 2006 until May 2007 – eight months – I was working seven nights a week.
To show that this was a dynamic situation, after the husband couldn’t get the reaction he wanted he started claiming to my mother’s friends that I took the will and in fact, after this claim was made, it in fact apparently did disappear from the lawyer’s office according to my sister – who tried to contact me in 2007.
However, despite all these things, I never knew what was going on in the background even though I had my suspicions. I also helped my mother organize her funeral and I gave the eulogy. There were about 300 people there and only two sets of dry eyes in the house when I was done: the widower’s and his daughter’s.
The strangest part of this was that apparently there was a rumour spread by mum’s husband that I was an alcoholic and that was why I was depressed. That was never queried by my mother’s friends and when I heard this – before my mother died – I deliberately made a decision not to drink at all until the situation was resolved. None of my mother’s friends ever got in touch with me but one.
I learned that mum’s husband died in 2010 on December 22. I saw the online death notice; my family were not mentioned at all. So after making my mother’s friends disappear, her husband’s family tried to make my mother’s memory disappear. In short, they perpetuated a lie.
However, reading between the lines, I figure that her husband had happen to him one thing he was afraid of: it seems he died by himself in an extendacare home because of complications due to his emphysema. He told me that was his most feared thing: to die alone. I wonder how he faced it…
So I remember my mother as someone who faced all these things – and some things she didn’t need to face – with an apparent quiet courage. She seemed to be more concerned with others than herself, with understanding that she was in her rights to be self-absorbed given what was going on. I also remember a native friend of mine who told me every time we think of someone who has gone to the spirit land, they are thinking of us.