Only before Her Passing Did Mother Hear Words of Gratitude from Her Son — Story of the Day
An only son is angered when he has to look after his dying mother and ships her off to a palliative care facility.
No one who had seen George Lander grow up would ever have imagined his reaction when his mother entered the final stages of a deadly battle with cancer.
Doreen Lander had been the most loving and supportive mother imaginable to her only son, but when she became bedridden in the last months of her life, her devotion was not repaid in kind.
George couldn't wait to get rid of his dying mother and all that responsibility. | Source: Shutterstock.com
Doreen had first been diagnosed with colon cancer a few months before her 68th birthday, and she had faced this new enemy the same way she'd faced the many challenges in her life: with quiet determination.
Doreen had broken the news gently to George, afraid that her illness would upset him, but she never expected his reaction. "I suppose you'll need me to drive you to treatments at odd hours of the day?" he'd asked with a distinct note of irritation in his voice.
"No, son," Doreen said with her usual tranquility even though her heart ached from the unexpected blow. "The hospital's oncology department has a pick-up/ drop-off service for patients."
"Oh good!" cried George callously, "I was afraid your problem was going to interfere with my work schedule. We're now in the middle of an extremely sensitive take-over..."
When Doreen was diagnosed with cancer, her son didn't seem to take it seriously. | Source: Pexels
Over the next six months, Doreen battled her cancer virtually alone. Of course, her friends rallied around her, but they couldn't understand George's absence and their unspoken censure of her boy upset Doreen.
Doreen was sure that this apparent indifference was George's way of distancing himself from his fear of losing his beloved mother, of being left alone in the world. She understood that fear very well.
As a young woman, Doreen had lost both her parents to cancer within months of each other, and her young husband had passed away after a serious work accident had left him in a three-month coma.
Yes, Doreen knew well the agony of sitting by the bedside of a beloved, watching them fade away, feeling helpless, impotent, hopeless. She convinced herself that George was trying to avoid that same agony.
Doreen went to every treatment alone | Source: Pexels
Doreen battled her cancer, but after two years of treatments that left her a shadow of her former self, and an operation that left her with a colostomy bag, she was nearing the end.
Her oncologist phoned George and asked him to come into the hospital to talk to him. George complied, irritated that he had to shift several meetings to accommodate the doctor's schedule.
Just as our parents cared for us in our first years, we should care for them in their last days.
George was even more upset by the doctor's news. "Mr. Landers, your mother is in her last days. There is little we can do for her now, except keep her relatively pain-free and comfortable.
"In our experience, patients prefer to spend their last weeks with their loved ones, in a familiar surrounding. So my advice to you would be to take your mother home for these last weeks of her life and cherish the time you have left."
The doctor told George there was no more they could do for Doreen | Source: Unsplash
George was aghast. Take his dying mother home? "But... I work!" George said. "I can't provide 24-hour care..."
The doctor smiled. "I'm very fond of you mother, Mr. Landers, and I checked -- her insurance covers round-the-clock care from professional nurses. Your mother is desperate to go home, please think about it."
George thought about it. Mostly he thought about the disruption all this would bring into his well-ordered life. "Well, I suppose..." He said rather ungraciously. "You're sure it's only a few weeks?"
The doctor looked at George sadly. "Yes, Mr. Landers, unfortunately, that's our prognosis. Your mother won't burden you for long." George felt a twinge of embarrassment at the doctor's dry tone.
George was forced to turn his study into a bedroom for his dying mother. | Source: Unsplash
But as it turned out, the doctor was wrong, and George's every fear was justified. Installed in a bedroom converted from George's downstairs study, Doreen showed no signs of dying anytime soon.
Doreen fought off death with a steely determination that equaled her son's callous indifference. He would come into her room when he arrived from work and greet his mother.
"How are you feeling today, mother?" he'd ask, eyeing Doreen's pale face, the thin arms, and bony hands lying outside the covers with distaste.
"Every time I see your face, I find the strength to live another day," Doreen would whisper with a radiant smile. Two months later, George was at the end of his tether. He called the doctor and asked to see him.
George told the doctor he wanted his mother out of the house. | Source: Unsplash
"You guaranteed that my mother would be dead within two weeks," he cried indignantly. "It's been three months and she's still alive!"
The doctor stared at George, shocked. "Mr. Landers, your mother's continued survival is a miracle and you should view it as such."
"Miracle, shmiracle!" George cried. "I want my life back. There must be somewhere I can put her!"
The doctor's voice was thick with disdain. "Of course, Mr. Landers. I will recommend a palliative care facility. We wouldn't want the death of the woman who gave you life to put you to any inconvenience!"
George had Doreen placed in a palliative care facility. | Source: Unsplash
Three days later, Doreen was moved to a palliative care facility. After examining her, the staff told George that in their opinion Doreen was days away from death and urged him to spend as much time as he could with her.
The next day, George arrived to visit with a bouquet of flowers. "Hello, mother," he said with all his old charm. "I brought you daisies, your favorites, right?"
Doreen smiled happily. "Oh George, you remembered!" George sat by his mother's bedside, held her hand tenderly, and chatted pleasantly. Then he produced an official-looking document.
"Listen, mother, my lawyer drew this up," George said. "It passes your house into my name and it will avoid my having to pay death duties. You understand..."
Doreen refused to give up on her son. | Source: Pexels
Doreen's smile faded a little as she signed, but she nodded. "Of course, son," she said, "Anything for you!"
George promised to return the next day, but he didn't show. In fact, over the next six weeks, he didn't visit even once. The doctors were astonished at Doreen's survival, her tenacity was incredible. Her poor body was worn out from the disease and the pain but she wouldn't give up.
One day, one of her carers called George. "Mr. Landers," she said quietly, "Your mother is in a great deal of pain, and she longs to see you..."
"I'm in the middle of some very delicate negotiations right now!" George snapped. "Just do your job, keep her comfortable, dope her up!" George slammed down the phone and looked around his study.
George remembered his childhood and his mother's love. | Source: Unsplash
His mother's hospital bed had been removed, but one or two of her knickknacks remained. He started throwing them into a box. Then his fingers closed over the frame of an old photograph.
In it a young and lovely Doreen stood with her arm around him, holding up a bike. George recognized himself at seven, skinny and scared with a bloody knee.
"That was the day she taught me to ride a bike! I was so scared..." George mused. "She told me...She told me she believed in me, that I could do ANYTHING... She..."
George stood there with tears running down his cheeks as his memories flooded back. "Mommy!" he gasped. "What have I done?" Twenty minutes later, George was by his mother's bedside, holding her hand.
At the end, George was there, holding Doreen's hand. | Source: Unsplash
"Mommy," he whispered. "Mommy I love you..." Doreen opened her eyes and smiled at him.
"Oh my boy, finally you're here!" she said.
"Mom," George sobbed, "I'm so sorry I've never told you before, but I know I couldn't have made it without you, all your love and support. I love you so much, please forgive me..."
"There's nothing to forgive, my love," Doreen said softly, "I knew you love me, I just needed you to know it too, so you'd have no regrets."
That evening, Doreen passed away peacefully in her son's arms. All that time she'd been holding on to say goodbye to the little boy she'd raised, not the hardened man he had almost become.
What can we learn from this story?
- Just as our parents cared for us in our first years, we should care for them in their last days. George finally remembered how his mother had loved and protected him and ran to her side.
- Regret is the greatest of all pains -- to know we've acted wrongly and can't make it right -- and that was what Doreen wanted to spare her son.
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