Monday, March 22, 2010

Helen Maurine Peterson Cannon - I Wish I Had The Chance To Know How She'd Look At Ninety

My mother would have been ninety years old last Saturday.  Ninety.  She was not yet seventy when I last saw her.  She was my age, in fact.  I am sixty seven.  She was sixty-eight.

When she first died, I cheered almost.  She had suffered so much.  And she was finally at peace.  I was so happy for her.  

My Dad had been in a rest home for almost a year from a stroke, unable to talk, unable to move meaningfully, unable to walk.  And he'd been a little mean to her, I think because he resented her being able to move and to talk, and to be . . . cheerful. 

But she was losing.  She was losing him, she was losing her mind, she was losing her grasp on what had been so much -- that which had had strong meaning -- her family, her place and her purpose.

Her life had been surrounded by duty to Dad, her children, her house, her dogs, bowling, her love of Bridge, friends.

Then Dad had his stroke and with that ugly afternoon when he fell into the breakfront and he never recovered much of anything, Mother never recovered either.  

We tried to make up for her losses, but we were pathetic.  We didn't know where to begin.  We didn't know how to boss our mother around.  We didn't know how to boss the doctors around either.  We didn't know that we had the power, but had we known, we really wouldn't have wanted to anyway.  

Dementia set in fast.  We called it Alzheimer's, but I think it was a broken heart and a broken will together with Halcyon and other crazy medicines she may have been taking, and a life ripped from under her feet.  Twenty years ago the health-care world didn't worry too much about people of that age -- my age.  They just thought they were old and old people just got that way.  God help us.  

She fell and because her osteoporosis was so bad, she easily broke through her seventh vertebrae which damaged her spinal chord and paralyzed her from below her arms.  She would have been unable to walk and control her bladder and bowels.  It was laughable almost, because they put her into a rehab hospital in Sandy to teach her to care for herself.  She was barely able to care for herself when she could walk, let alone in that condition.

One day a friend of mine, a nurse on duty named Pam Langlois,  and I were talking and I said "When do you people stop trying?"

She grabbed my arm and said "When you tell us to."  

That's when it was over.  We removed the respirator and she died soon after.  That was Halloween night in 1988 that she shot on over.  She always loved holidays.  She was born the first day of Spring and died on Halloween.  How wonderful is that?

I love the song "Everything I Own" by Bread because of her.  I know it was written for David Gates' father, but it makes me think of my own mother, Helen Maurine Peterson Cannon.  I wish I had her back.  Even just for a minute.  I cherish times I see her in my dreams.  I just wish that while I was having those dreams, I valued them more.  I wish I would grab her in my arms, kiss her, tell her I love her and never let her go.

Everything I Own
By Bread
You sheltered me from harm. 
Kept me warm, kept me warm. 
You gave my life to me. 
Set me free, set me free. 
The finest years I ever knew, 
were all the years I had with you. 

And I would give anything I own. 
I'd give up my life, my heart, my home. 
I would give everything I own, 
just to have you back again. 

You taught me how to laugh. 
What a time, what a time. 
You never said too much, 
but still you showed you cared. 
And I knew from watching you. 

Nobody else could ever know, 
the part of me that can't let go. 

And I would give anything I own, 
I'd give up my life, my heart, my home. 
I would give everything I own, 
just to have you back again. 

Is there someone you know, 
your loving them so, 
but taking them all for granted? 
You may lose them one day. 
Someone takes them away, 
and they don't hear the words you long to say. 

I would give anything I own, 
I'd give up my life, my heart, my home. 
I would give everything I own, 
just to have you back again; 
just to touch you once again. 


Annie said...

Thanks for sharing this :)

Lindsey said...

I wish I had the opportunity to know her. She was obviously remarkable.

Rex said...

Thanks Linda

Linda Aukschun said...

I love you guys.

Bonnie said...

Oh Linda. I remember that time. It was the year we moved into your ward. It was the first thing I knew about you---and it was wonderful to see the love you had for your parents and sad too. I didn't understand then, and I still don't understand almost everything about mothers, but I understand grief and missing. I miss you, you know. You left a hole in our neighborhood that no one else could ever fill! Why don't you just come back? Love, You!

Mary's Cottage Quilts said...

Linda, what a beautiful tribute to your mother. Thank you for sharing, I've said it and I'll say it again... you are awesome!

Jaime said...

Your mother sounds amazing! I am so sorry for your loss, even 20 years later. She sounds as if she was very strong. I'm sure that is where you get it from!

zippy the wondermonkey said...

i miss both of them.

sarah said...

It sometimes surprises me that I know so little about my Grandma Cannon. I appreciate any memories of her, even if they're not my own.