It was a week unlike any other I can remember — and one I hope to never repeat.
It began about 5 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 8. I had had a productive day at The Independent and I still had another story I wanted to write before heading home for the night. However, I was beginning to feel a “bit woozy” — the words I had used to tell a co-worker how I was feeling — so took off for home without writing another word.
However, while driving home I was hit by a train. No, not the kind of train that speeds along tracks. Instead, it was an invisible train that hit me with such a force that before I reached home — a distance of a little more than a mile — my wooziness had turned into flat-out illness.
Illness is a real rarity for me. You can count on one hand the number of days of work I had missed in the last 40 years and have a couple of fingers left over.
I am 64-year-old and have never had the flu. Or at least I had never had the flu before last week, and I am not even sure what I had last week was the flu. In fact, two different doctors called it a viral inflection, whatever that is. Anyway, for the remainder of Tuesday night and all day Wednesday through Sunday, I was so sick I never left the house except to go to the doctor on Thursday.
At the same time, my daughter was in King’s Daughters Medical Center for a serious illness, which meant my wife had to take care of the grandchildren at their house. Meanwhile, I stayed home with my dog Prissy being my “nurse.” Fortunately, Prissy is an expert at doing what I was mostly doing — sleeping. I would guess that on Wednesday and Thursday I may have slept 20 hours each day — and was still tired.
Early Friday morning I received a call from my niece in Washington Court House that Mom’s body was “shutting down” and she probably would not survive the day. I wanted to get into my car and drive the two hours to be with Mom, but with a temperature of 101 I knew I would not be welcome there. Shortly before noon on Friday, I received word Mom had peacefully passed into the arms of a loving God.
That had been the prayer of my sisters, other family members and me for several months. For at least the last four months of her life, Mom had no quality of life. I would visit with her as often as I could — usually with my wife — but you could no longer have a real conversation with her, and she didn’t always know who we were. She was ready to die. I only wish I could have been there with her.
My wife and I had visited Mom on the Saturday before he death. She looked so frail lying in her bed that
I could hardly recognize her, but she did tell us both that she loved us. I think she knew this would be the last time she would be with us in this world.
“Oh Momma, oh, Momma. Where did you go?
What happened to the mother I used to know?”
I wrote those words a few months ago, but could do no further. Now there’s no need. I know where Mom is, and it is a far, far better place than here.
Mom died exactly 95 years and four months after her birth in 1917. For more than 93 of those years, she enjoyed exceptional health. At 90, it was all I could do to keep up with her when we walked. No other human being had a greater influence on my life than Mom. Many times during the last 37-plus years my wife has told me I was “just like your mom” — and she didn’t always mean it as a compliment. But there is no other person I would rather be like than Mom. She made me what I am — faults and all.
I began to feel a little better on Friday, but I guess the stress of the day caused me to have something of a relapse. Ironically, although I had had a nearly constant low-grade fever for most of the week, I did not have an upset stomach. On Saturday the stomach problems arrived, and I still am not over them.
Well, the worst is over, and I have learned my lesson. From now on, I am going to get a flu shot every year. Even if what I had was not the flu, I don’t want to take any chances of getting it again. Once is enough.
My daughter is home from the hospital and back to work. I am back to work and feeling a little better each day, although still not 100 percent. Things are returning to normal again. For that I am thankful.
JOHN CANNON can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (606) 326-2649.