Can it get any worse?

January 2nd, 2010 Comments Off on Can it get any worse?

So here I am sitting in a euphoric life wondering always, what comes next? It all started ten years ago today.

DAY ONE – DECEMBER 31, 1999

I am at work getting the deposit ready. Life was going great and I was enjoying it. I was managing stores for Tom Thumb, a previous convenience store chain in Minnesota. I loved working for the community in the area. I was not about the company, as I never had met the company and I rarely seen the people above me, I liked the customers. The customers made the store.

My favorite customer that would always come in just after she finished her Shopko shift at five in the morning was my mom. Now people that know my mom would always say that my mom was the craziest, nicest woman that you would ever meet. She would do anything for anyone. My mom had taken over my childhood paper route only to find herself doing five of them because she did not want to overwork the manager. While doing the paper route she was able to meet some really nice people and some she would hand deliver the paper to their house, on their breezeway table, or to a couple people that were unable to walk she would deliver to them; chair-side delivery. We were the neighborly people that would shovel everyone’s driveways lead by my mother. I think that my mom was the true spirit of Minnesota Nice.

Now on December 31st, 1999 I had to open the store on Washington Memorial Drive. This meant that I had to be there at around 3:30am, gather all the monies and balance the books from the previous day. After all this, open the store. I always liked opening the store. It was generally peaceful in the morning.

My mother would always show up just after the store opened. I would offer her a cup of coffee and we would sit and talk forever. I enjoyed my mother’s company and my customers all new my mother and she was well liked in the neighborhood and she lived only about a block away.

Now remember, it is New Year’s Eve and I am opening the store. Everything was going smoothly on this warm day of 18°F and I was getting some stuff done. I was extremely busy this morning trying to get out early as it was a holiday weekend and I was trying to get out early since I had to work tonight doing something that I would consider fun. My mother did not show up, which I did not think was that out of the ordinary. My mother and I did get into an argument the day before and I did not expect her to show up.

I was just finishing up with everything about 9:30am as I was planning on leaving about 10am when the phone rang. Now, it is not odd that the phone rang; generally it is something regarding someone’s computers from another store. This time it was my father.

My father and I have never really gotten along and I was shocked that he would call me in the first place. Alcoholism and violence was something that I had growing up, so I rarely seen my father. Today all he said was, “Your mom was in a car accident. I have to pick her up from the hospital.”

Logics… I am a very logical person and everything starts running through my mind. Why didn’t she call? How bad was she hurt that she was at the hospital? What happened?

“I am going!” I shout back. “The police said it was a minor accident and I just have to pick her up”, was his retort before he hung up.

Like I said, I am a very logical person and I knew that something was wrong. Mike, a friend and another manager that was quitting had shown up for something. I knew that I had to get to the hospital, and I couldn’t stay to chat. I did not want to run home (I walk to work), so I had asked Mike to drive me to the hospital. He had wanted to chat with everyone for a few minutes, so I had to express my urgency and also explain the logics behind the urgency. After all this, we were off.

With my logics, we had parked in the emergency room parking and walked in. In the hospital, Mike had decided to see for himself that my logics were correct and walked in to see what was wrong. The hospital was extremely busy as they had about two hundred people there because of a car crash involving teenagers from the local school, not a fun place to be at the time. I walked up to check the room number for my mom and I was on my way. I needed to know what happened.

I was the second person there and I had seen my father crying, I knew it! I went to the nurses and doctors that were with her. Everything was a mess.

The police department had found my mom about 9am, four hours after she had left for work. Someone opening the doors for Audio King in Division Place Fashion Center had noticed my mom’s car hanging out in the street on Highway 23. My mom was lying in front of the car which appeared like someone had run her over with her own car. Four hours had gone by since my mother had left work and she was in the cold 18°F. What had happened?

The police did not know much information. They had suggested foul play as an empty bottle of Heet Gas-Line Antifreeze was in the front seat of the car. The doctors were not sure what happened either. As of the current moment their best guess was a ten percent chance of living. I called my grandmother to let her know that my mom was in serious condition, and then I called my sister.

I am normally not a person to cry, but I could not deal with this. I start bawling. My mom was the only person that I had. We were extremely close.

I had stay by my mom’s side hoping, praying, crying, and losing my mind. I had gotten to know the nurses a little since I was there the entire time. I did not want to leave in case something happened, in case my mom woke up for a brief moment, I wanted to be the first person that she had seen when she woke. My mom is only 38; she is too young to die.  I had to find the Chapel. I needed to connect with God since he is the only person that can help… would he help now?

Wow! Within minutes the community responded. We had a ton of people outside my mom’s room that the hospital had to designate a waiting room for my mom. I did not know that people could mobilize that fast. Every family member was there. I had my support, but I needed to be alone.

About 5pm everyone had been here all day. My sister had worked for Burger King and had taken off to deal with this. It was a tough situation. My sister’s discount only applies to her immediate family. We had about one hundred immediate family members there to feed. Would Burger King really give us a discount for everyone?

My family had made me leave since I was not handling things all that well. They had my run to take a shower to calm down, so I went to pick up food as well.

We went to pick up two hundred burgers and fries that Burger King had made. The manager had heard what happened and donated the food. GO BURGER KING!!

Going back and dispersing food to everyone was a nice thing to do. My aunt Tammie had started a journal for everyone to write notes, updates and thoughts in for when my mom woke up. I had to write something, and then I had to get going.

Tom Thumb was not the only thing that I had kept myself busy with. I was on what I would call the Emergency Management Elite Team. The team of people that did pretty much everything needed in the Emergency Management Department. Tonight was the dreaded Y2K. Every person in the nation was on high alert. What if the computers all shut down? What if we had riots? What if 911 went down? Scary thoughts…

I was lucky enough to be stationed at the Saint Cloud Hospital, where my mother was. I was there in case we had something that happened to radio in to dispatch and let the command know what is happening and figure out a resolution to the problem. We all had to meet at 7pm for our briefing.

Meeting with the two other people from Emergency Management that were there was fun, under the circumstances. I had only briefly worked with the other, and then Mike I knew very well. We were briefed on how to get around the hospital, where we were to use radios and where not to use radios, how to get around the private areas, etc. One person had brought their wife to the show since the hospital was also having a private party for the employees that had to work, and we were invited. Radio in hand, I went back to my mom’s room. I checked in with our group and made the rounds on a regular basis while checking in with the Emergency Operations Center.

My mother’s condition was unchanged. The theory was that my mom had an intracranial berry aneurysm, a sac-like out-pouching in a cerebral blood vessel, which can seem berry-shaped. Once a berry aneurysm has formed it is likely to rupture, which is what was believed to have happened to my mom. The mortality rate is about 70 – 90%.

My mom will wake up. She is a fighter and I need her.

DAY TWO – NEW YEARS DAY, Y2K, JANUARY 1, 2000

For Emergency Management, the night was uneventful.

For my mom, at this point we were still praying. The people had begun to thin out and we were seeing different people come in. Our numbers in the waiting room was still very high as people kept coming and going. I didn’t leave her room. One nurse had said that miracles happen, people just wake up and are fine. She told me to keep praying.

I know that I am not lucky. So, I did not expect my mom to stand up. Just grab my hand a slowly wake up. My mom was responding to stimulants. She would grab our hand when we were talking. This gave everyone hope! Throughout the night though my mom stopped responding to stimulants and the doctors believed that she was brain dead. They conducted an EEG and it was determined that she still had activity and she could still pull through.

At this point I did not leave her side. I stayed at that bed to hear everything. I did not sleep other than the short naps when I could no longer hold my head up. The nurses woke me up every time they had checked on my mom. Nothing…

An excerpt from her bedside journal:

“Happy New Year! Not! Mom we miss you. We want you to fight and come back when they said you had died. I went nuts. We need you. Remember the prayer on the pin ‘Angel of God, my guardian dear, To whom God’s love entrusts me here, Ever this day, be at my side, to light and guard, Rule and guide. Amen.’

Mom again we love. Don’t die on us now. You need to wake and see all the needles.

Love you,

James

Your son Forever”


DAY THREE – JANUARY 2, 2000

Today was not going well. People were losing hope and things were getting tough. People were all there praying. I think that half the Chapel was our family. I still had hope.

The decision was made. The doctors felt that if my mom pulled through she would have severe brain damage. At 6pm my father decided to pull the plug; this ensued a fight. In the middle of the hallway, my father and I were arguing everything was not going well.

I went back to my mom’s side of the family. How could he let this happen? Why?

An excerpt from my mom’s bedside journal:

“Well Mom, your final hour has come, we are hoping you will fight and pull through this. We love you; everyone loved you who came in contact with you. You will always be loved by everyone. We will be there for you hope you send us signs and come visit to let us know you are still out there an remember us. All I can thing about is the song, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ He will always remember you just as I will.

I will always miss you,

James”

I was allowed to call Father Al, a friend and priest and have him give my mom her last rites. With a close set of family around Father Al had blessed my mom. The nurse had stopped the ventilator and my mom turned a greenish-yellow color. My aunt Barb who is a small frame had lifted my mom shaking her yelling, “Don’t do this to us!” My mom was dying in front of me and there was nothing I could do.

I kiss my mom on the forehead.

An excerpt from my mom’s bedside journal:

“At the end,

Well the time has come Mom. We know you are now in a better place. Your time of death was declared 18:06 on 1/2/00. At that time we had a crowd…

…Also try to watch over, with you, Jeni and Tj…

…We will always remember you. You will always be in our hearts.

Don’t forget us,

James”


REMEMBER ME

To the living, I am gone.

To the sorrowful, I will never return.

To the angry, I was cheated.

But to the happy, I am at peace.

And to the faithful, I have never left.

I cannot speak, but I can listen.

I cannot be seen, but I can be heard.

So as you stand upon a shore,

Gazing at a beautiful sea, Remember Me.

As you look upon a flower and admire its

Simplicity, Remember Me.

Remember me in your hearts,

your thoughts and your memories

of the times we loved, the times

we cries, the times we fought, the

times we laughed. For if you

you always think of me. I will never

have gone.

After 10 years, I still cry.

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