The Loss of my Mom

30 07 2018

November 4, 1995 was a day that changed the trajectory of my life in ways that I wasn’t prepared to deal with.  Three days before, the Lord blessed us with a blessing that we didn’t plan for but are very grateful to have received.  November 1st was the day our fourth child was born.  On November 2nd, we were allowed to take our beautiful new daughter home.  Before we went home, we took her to see her grandmother.  My mom held her newest grand-daughter for a few moments and then gave her back to us.  Two days later my mother passed away.

Her passing was not unexpected.  Several years earlier she had been diagnosed with breast cancer.  She had a mastectomy along with chemotherapy and radiation.  After all of that she was cancer free for almost 5 years.  This time when it came back it came back with a vengeance.  It got into her lymphatic system and then metastasized below the knee and into her brain.  At the time those were very rare places for breast cancer to attack.

Prior to her cancer returning, I was the designated executor of her estate and each of my kids, along with my sisters kids were to get $10,000 from her estate.  When the cancer returned, she decided to get married.  As I remember, and I may not be remembering correctly, a major reason for getting married was the medical benefits that he had.  This would mean that all of her money would not be spent on her cancer treatment.  After she got married, she changed the trust and put everything in her husband’s name. She did not have a will and based on what my sister once told me, I think she was coerced into making the changes.

While her cancer was in remission, she worked for a very famous financial advisor who also had an attorney working for her.  I went and talked with them as this whole thing about my mother making this radical change from providing for her grandchildren and children to leaving it all to her husband was not like her.  Unfortunately, I got nowhere with this meeting.  What really upset me is that they knew my mother and this was a radical change in behavior that I would thought they might have reached out to my sister or I and at least asked if everything was ok.

Two days after my mother held my youngest child, I got a call from my sister saying that our mom had passed away and that they were waiting for hospice to come get her body. I decided to drive up and wait. Not sure why I did that, it just seemed the right thing to do.

Before my mother passed away, she felt her current husband would not give my sister or I any of my mother’s money. She and my sister had cashed in a couple of her CD’s and given the cash to my sister. She had pulled a couple for me but didn’t/couldn’t cash them as she couldn’t remember my social security number. Within 2 days of my mother passing her husband called asking if I knew where two of the CDs were. I didn’t have them yet so I honestly answered no and to check with my sister.  Shortly after this my sister gave them to me and I tried to cash them.  However, it turns out I needed his signature to cash them and he wasn’t going to let me have both of them.  My mother’s fears were confirmed.

I wanted to have a memorial service for my mother and tried to set something up for a few weeks after she passed away.  I got lots of pushback from my sister and my mother’s husband.  With counsel from my church family, I went ahead and while my sister attended, it was very obvious that she was not at all happy that I had the memorial service.

I didn’t, or maybe haven’t grieved in ways that would seem normal.  Yes her passing made me sad and I miss her greatly.  However, I never really cried for her.   It just seemed a natural part of life and while I had a great loss in my life, life just seemed to go on.  Many years later, I sensed God prompting me to attend Grief Share.  This is a ministry for those that have suffered a loss as they try to adjust to the new season of their lives.  I learned a few things but I didn’t get the healing or closure I was hoping for.  I don’t know that there was anything wrong with the program or even wrong with me.  I just don’t know how that was supposed to impact my life.  About that time, we were preparing to adopt our foster daughters.  I thought that maybe God wanted me to go through this to better understand the grief my soon to be daughters would be going through.  However they were reunited with their mother.

Not too long after the memorial service, my sister moved to Idaho with no warning.  She left pots and pans she had borrowed from our mother on the doorstep and left with no other discussion.  It took me awhile longer but with no family ties to the San Francisco Bay Area and with the cost of housing being unreasonable, I found a job in Chandler Arizona and we moved to Gilbert, Arizona in August of 1997.

Living in the desert has definitely been different from living in the Bay Area.  However in the desert I have formed a much deeper relationship with God that I don’t know would have happened if I had continued with my life in the Bay Area.  Obviously I don’t know what would have happened had my family and I stayed in the Bay Area.  I do know that I would not have met the friends I now have.

Until next time…

Paul





Why God?

14 04 2013

This weekend was one of those sermons where I felt it was a message just for me. I am fairly certain that my pastor Mark Connelly at Mission Community Church didn’t write the message for me. However, God definitely used it to speak to me.

Maybe before I go too much farther, I should give you a little of my history. I don’t remember exactly when, though I am fairly certain it was before I was 13, I was diagnosed with Osgood-Schlatter disese. This is activity-related pain that occurs a few inches below the knee-cap.

At the ripe old age of 13, I chose to have pins inserted in my hip to keep from getting arthritis at 13. This was due to a growing issue where the socket was growing faster than the ball causing the ball of my hip to move abnormally and cause great pain.

I did have one other major knee issue while playing sports. I was about 17 when playing softball. I planted my feet, swung and apparently had a fantastic hit. I say apparently because I did not lift my back foot to rotate and managed to dislocate my knee cap and tear ligaments and tendons. I do remember being pulled up from home plate to try and hobble back to the car to get some care. That little stunt got me several weeks in a hip to ankle cast.

Fast forward 25 years or so and my knee and hip issues decided it was time to make a reappearance. First we started with cortisone injections to try and “reboot” my knee (I love how my Orthopedist was able to communicate in computer terms). This worked for awhile but in 2008 I ended up having Arthroscopy done on both knees. This helped for a few years.

With the knee pain addressed, my hip decided to start hurting me. It turns out that at least partially due to the pins that were put in when I was 13, caused the cartilage in my hip joint to wear unevenly. So in July 0f 2011 I had my right hip replaced. You come to realize just how “special” you are when your orthopedist is excited about the antiques he is going to remove. That surgery went well and I am happy to report there have been NO issues with my hip since then.

Not wanting to be left out my knees started hurting before my hip surgery and again we tried the cortisone and then rooster-comb therapy. It didn’t work. X-Rays revealed that I was almost bone on bone in both knees. This resulted in a Bi-lateral knee arthroplasty procedure in October of 2011. Two major surgeries in just a few months apart! Not something I would recommend to anyone. Not only is it a physical drain on the body but it is a mental drain wondering if you are ever going to be done recovering from surgery.

After all of this several months go by and my foot just won’t stop hurting. By this time I have had orthotics for a couple of years and even had a special plastic ankle brace. This all do to the fact that my arch is collapsing. The podiatrist tells me that I have skew foot. Which means from the front it looks as though I have a high arch and from the back it looks like I am flat footed. The pain is caused by the ligament being stretched and my heel being a little off center. So in September of 2012 I have corrective foot surgery.

That brings me to the date of this post. My foot is still in pain and sometime during my knee recovery my knee caps migrated to the outside of my joint. This means that I am looking at one or two surgeries to adjust the knee caps and who knows what for my foot.

The other night a close friend of mine was telling the stories of all the jobs he has been “let go” from. The pattern seems to be that once someone he has witnessed to at work comes to faith in Christ, he is soon let go. So, I am wondering if I am maybe supposed to witness to someone in the doctor’s office or the hospital or maybe even the physical therapist’s office. Maybe I am not getting the hint and God keeps providing opportunities.

During the sermon, Pastor Mark told of a member with an amazing story. This story was how a member of my church has been carried through unimaginable pain and suffering. That isn’t the end of the story though. In spite of having her back broken twice and the numerous complications, she is being used by God in powerful ways to server others. Based on what I heard at the sermon on Saturday, I believe God is taking me through this season of pain. Like the lady in the story, I know that I would have NEVER written this pain and these surgeries into my life story. It definitely wasn’t in MY plan for my life. Like her and her husband, I know that I have cried out to God asking why.

Her story gives me hope that God can and will use this in some way. Obviously I don’t know what that is yet. Will it be used to coax others out of complacency into service? Will it be used to help someone else as they endure a similar season of pain? I don’t know. However, I have renewed hope that God will use this in some way. I may not know how He used it until I get to heaven. I just need to keep following Christ where ever He is leading and let Him take care of the rest.

Until next time








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