OT: me + mom + popsicles + dad + Romans 8

limeIn essence, with minor exceptions, besides the applesauce her meds are crushed into, mom now eats only three things. Raspberries, blackberries, and Edy’s lime popsicles. A raspberry has one calorie; a blackberry has two to three; half a lime popsicle has thirty-five.

Today she ate half a popsicle, twice; ten raspberries; seven blackberries. Slightly over one hundred calories, reckoned generously.

She is frighteningly thin everywhere except her swollen abdomen and legs.

She has terrible pains in her stomach which she no longer recognizes as hunger. Nothing we say or bring tempts her to put anything more in her mouth. The smell of food from the tray of food the nurses insists on bringing nauseates her.

We have been told we should give her a glass of wine before asking her to eat. “I prefer Lambrusco,” she says, in a hoity-toity tone that cracks us up. “Folks like us” don’t have wine preferences. I don’t know if she knows that Lambrusco is down-market and is being ironic about her tastes on purpose. I don’t care either way. But when I bring it, she doesn’t drink that, either.

The rehab has a spelling bee every Tuesday. She doesn’t want to participate. “I’d wipe the floor with all those old ladies,” she says scornfully to the activities director, when asked if she won’t play along.

The wound from the first surgery in July has not closed and the sound of the wound vac keeps her awake at night. The wound nurse tells me it will close. When, she does not say.

Paradoxically, given the fact that I haven’t seen her eat or drink as much as one gram of protein in slightly over two weeks, rehab is going well, and she can almost rise on her own now. I think she’s determined to come home, and that’s one of the requirements.

It’s been decided, since Monday: no more surgeries; no more chemo.


home-hospital-bedDad wants mom home, too. He complains that the bed is too big without her.

On Monday afternoon, a nurse walked in on them cuddling in significantly less than all of their clothing, tubing notwithstanding.

Yesterday, at home, he told me to put something or other smelly down the garbage disposal rather than composting it.

I said, a bit impatiently, “No, mom doesn’t like that smell in her sink,” and we both froze.

He slammed a cupboard door and walked out of the kitchen.


My brother finishes work at 5:45 a.m. and visits then, as she’s awake. I don’t know what they talk about. Each of us is angry, in our own ways. Each of us is loyal, in our own ways.


romans8v31The “reading to” that attends sickbeds in our family — I am not ready to call this a deathbed, not yet — began tonight. Mom asked me to download a Bible to her Kindle a few days ago.

“Be thou faithful unto death,” she said, after refusing some more raspberries, “where is that?”

I don’t know, as it’s not a part of the Bible I had to memorize for confirmation, but technology makes it easy. It’s in Revelation. Part of the directions to the church at Smyrna.

I used to read Revelation a lot, as a little girl, in the guest bed at my grandparents’ house, which had a reading light, so I didn’t have to sneak in a flashlight. The room was paneled in knotty pine and the light flickered against the knots as I pondered the seven candlesticks and the angels and the beast. And dreamed strange dreams, afterwards. It’s been a long time.

I settle into the reclining chair next to her bed, so we don’t see each other’s faces, and read the passage.

“I don’t think it makes sense,” I say, “unless you read the beginning of the book.” I flick my finger, back up a few screens. “Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, every one who pierced him; and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen. ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

She’s quiet for a bit. Then she says, “That’s really hard to understand.”

I agree with her. I suggest she pick something else, secretly hoping for Matthew 5.

“Romans 8,” she says, emphatically.

I freeze. I read Romans 8 to my grandfather, once upon a time. I know what she wants to hear. It’s going to hurt, not just because of those memories, but because she knows that the punchline is something I have not believed since that summer. We fought about it, bitterly, in the fall of 1992. And didn’t speak for a year and a half afterwards.

“OK,” I say, swallowing.

Like I said, I’ve been here before, with my grandfather and with her, and I know what she wants to hear. Not the whole chapter.

“I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us,” I begin. “For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”

Maybe it will be okay. I take a deep breath.

“Likewise,” I continue, “the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words. And he who searches the hearts of men knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”

And then my stomach contracts, and I know I’m going to lose it. I persist. This verse is what she wants to hear, what she wants me to hear. For this I am reading.

“We know,” I choke out, miserably, “that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.”

I bypass tears and move straight to the open-mouthed sob.

She reaches over and pats my hand.

“I can’t read the rest,” I say, after a few moments, when I’ve caught my breath again.

“It’s okay,” she says. “It’s enough.”

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~ by Servetus on July 31, 2013.

One Response to “OT: me + mom + popsicles + dad + Romans 8”

  1. […] household. Nor is elderly sex the issue — I’ve been told by a nurse that my parents are petting in rehab with the apparent expectation that it would scandalize me. More power to them, I’ve always […]


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