Monday, April 21, 2008

My story --- how it began

My mother was diagnosed with stomach cancer when she was 45 years old.
She never smoked and rarely drank.

I was 25 years old and was engage to be married..for the second time. I had no children.

My mother was an amazing woman – her love for children…well…she had a gift..for relating to them.

I couldn’t imaging bearing children that she wouldn’t know.

We became pregnant with our first shortly after the wedding.

She was so sick…but she had to fight…she wanted to know this baby. She did.
Now, she decided…she wanted him to REMEMBER her….she needed just a few more years.

Ten months later I was pregnant again.

Another reason for her to hang on. She did.

She adored those boys…she became sicker and sicker…but she fought…she wasn’t ready.

She died on May 10, 1996 at the age of 52. The boys were two and three years old.

I moved into her home a few weeks prior…to help my stepfather care for her. It was the most fulfilling thing I’d ever done….help someone to die…help HER to die…my Mom.

Before she died…I imagined what it would be like…she would close her eyes…her breathing would slow…then cease….it would be peaceful…beautiful….ok.

That’s not how it was.

A day or two before she died she lost the ability to talk…I’m not even sure she was conscious but she was in a tremendous amount of pain and would cry out and groan in her sleep.

She was having a seizure just before she died. It was so difficult to watch.

For months afterward, that’s all I could see…when I thought of her…I couldn’t picture her when she was young and beautiful and healthy…or even frail, playing with her grandsons…all I could see was the end….in that bed…the pain.

I missed her terribly.

A year before her death I’d quit my job. My husband was successful and we could afford it. The children went to a pre-school program and I spent most of my time with her. He traveled a lot. I was often alone with the children.

That year with her was a blessing…she was always in pain but she hid it well…she wasn’t finished living.

We’d sometimes shop…go to lunch…take the boys to the zoo…

she and i took a trip to vegas. I had a gambling problem way back then, but i only gambled when i was in vegas....i didn't do anything locally....and i rarely went to Vegas...sooooo while i DID gamble compulsively...i rarely wasn't really a problem in my LIFE.

BUT...that trip, when I was with my mom

one night, she said that she wasn't feeling well and was going to go up to the room. I offered to go with her but she said no.
I stayed downstairs and played until the wee hours of the morning.

next day she was feeling a little better.

later...months and months later, she told me that she went up to the room and cried and cried, she thought that she was having a heart attack...she hurt sooooo bad.

i can't believe i wasn't with her.

After her death my stress level was very high. It was my nature by then….I had become high-strung while climbing the corporate ladder…then…dealing with my mother’s illness…and now…I was raising the children…without her guidance…and a great deal of the time…without my husband.

after my mom died,...I would sometimes go to the casino alone...i had lots of free time...sometimes i'd go to the casino all day long.

I didn’t go very often, but when I did I’d spend a lot of money…and I’d have a hard time leaving.

I remember telling my husband, very early on, that I had a gambling problem….that…once I GOT there I had a problem (controlling myself) but…since I didn’t GO very often…it didn’t cause a problem in my LIFE.

I didn’t know it was progressive.
I didn’t know that an obsession would develop that would mean I’d end up GOING more and more often…that gambling would eventually take over all of my time…that when I wasn’t gambling I’d be THINKING about gambling.

I didn’t know.
In me, it developed slowly….sort of like gaining weight….you look in the mirror every day and we don’t really see that we’ve put on a quarter of a pound here and an eighth of a pound there..but ONE day…we try to slip into those jeans…and cannot zip them without laying on the bed and sucking it in.


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