|Permed and Blonde Mommy in one |
of her favorite double-entendre t-shirts
CFIDS has several diagnosable symptoms, and they finally figured out that of the eleven or so symptoms, a patient had to be always exhibiting at least eight in order to reach that diagnosis. With Mommy's diagnosis came a sense of relief - FINALLY, a name for what was causing her extreme tiredness and sadness!
After she'd lived with the diagnosis for a few years, she learned to manage it, and she learned to avoid sharing her pain with her offspring, somewhat out of a fear of it being hereditary. ("If I don't talk about it, hopefully, you won't be afflicted with it" sort of thought process.) She would have good days and bad days, as we all do, but she also had good seasons and bad seasons, and good years and bad years. When all of her kids were in college and then getting on with their lives, she was having extreme highs and lows. At some point, the CFIDS diagnosis took a back seat to a Bi-Polar or Manic/Depressive diagnosis. I, for one, never believed the later diagnoses as legit, and I held a grudge for awhile against the perpetrators of those diagnoses. She was depressed because of CFIDS, and she was blessed with good days/seasons/years when they occurred. If you spent a majority of your life in pain or fatigue or depression, wouldn't you be ecstatic when those symptoms abated? Not "manic" just finally, really HAPPY.
So at the beginning of 2006, after a pretty rough winter, she called me. She said that she was tired of being tired, and tired of complaining about being tired. I told her that she shouldn't worry about what others thought of her anymore; that she was old enough to live for herself, and if she was tired, she had a right to complain about it. I also told her that she could strive to be happy; that on a daily basis, if all she managed to "accomplish" was unloading the dishwasher or taking a walk with a friend or hanging a load of clothes on the line, then she'd had a successful day and could celebrate that success. I told her to make 2006 the Year of Lois, and I gave her the whole year to make it happen. She would have until her birthday, on December 28th, to decide to be happy, even if she was tired. She accepted my challenge, and we both left that phone call feeling better.
Summer came, and with it, a "good" season. In August, she called again, to tell me how healthy she felt, and how happy that made her. I congratulated her on achieving her Year of Lois. She and Daddy were moving again, so there would be some stress on the end of her summer, but he'd finally bought her a house she could make her own, in exchange for it being on a private golf course. They were both happy, and that made the rest of us happy for them.
|Clockwise, from top left: InnerHippie,|
me, Mommy, HER Mommy,
Brett, and Uncle Aardvark
(Mommy's baby brother)
In late September, her family suffered the loss of a third brother. She'd already lost two in earlier years, and with this loss, she had one brother and four sisters left. In her birth order, she'd been "seven of nine" and she'd always jokingly complained about her birthday: "3 days after Christmas, when everybody's broke, and to top it all off, I have a twin!" Her family was all based in New Jersey, once her mother had died all those years ago, so visits were pretty easy to accomplish, if she was the one not staying home. Mommy was never one to stay home - her life was always an adventure - and if there were a reason for her to hop into her pick-em-up truck, she was in it, and on the road again. So with Charles' death, she hopped into her pick-em-up truck and was on the road again.
|Standing, is Uncle Charles, I think.|
Seated on the right is his lil sis (Mommy)
Just outside of Knoxville, Tennessee, on a dry stretch of highway on a beautiful day, her truck stalled. She got it to the far-right lane and turned on her flashers, and two other vehicles saw her, swerving to miss her, and had their own accident in the median. They then witnessed the woman who, according to the police report, was "reaching for my coffee or cigarette and didn't see her" SLAMMING into her, sending the truck flipping into the ditch. All of the new treasures flying out; the truck caught fire; Mommy's neck was broken on impact. This was a Saturday; Daddy called Brett later to see if he'd heard from her and what time she'd left, because she hadn't made it home yet. We all found out on Sunday.
|Mommy in some doorway in St. Thomas, on vacay with Daddy (and all the kids at home, alone?-ish)|
SILVER LININGS: Mommy had had her Year of Lois. She'd felt healthier and happier that summer than she had in a very long time. She'd just started making a new house feel like a home. She'd visited with her five living siblings and her only son, the baby of her three offspring. Her black-and-white photos were processed with the utmost care, and we all have copies. Brett found a doll like the one she'd acquired, and he bought it for Rachel's Christmas. Her wedding band and her gold name-in-Arabic necklace survived the fire. Mommy may have had a moment of fear when the truck stalled, but she didn't suffer the flames. She was singing with the Heavenly Choir before the witnesses could even process what had happened. And in Heaven, there is no Chronic Fatigue or Manic/Depression.
|My Beautiful Young Mommy|
I miss her. It's been eight years, today. I have more good days than bad, but you know. If your parents are still alive, won't you please tell them how much you love them, for me, in honor of Lois?
|One Easter, I think, in Miami|
|Daddy & Mommy in '79, I think, pre-|
(or possibly post-) Virgin Islands trip