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Mothers, sons and home

Letter to the editor

A curious thing happened to me on my recent trip to New York City. I learned the relationship between mothers and home. I was scheduled to take my mother to Greece, where we hoped she would have been able to live out the rest of her days in peace and love surrounded by her sisters and family.

She had suffered a stroke in February that made it difficult for her to care properly for herself. I say properly because my mother has always been fiercely independent. Katherine Hepburn had nothing over on her.

Although I have two brothers living in New York, neither was able to devote the attention needed at the time of her first hospitalization, so I went. After I left to return here, my older brother arranged for in-home attendant care at an unbelievable price. Those of you who have elderly parents probably know the drill. She did everything to drive them away. And did.



I sweated through the summer, wondering if she was taking her medication properly, hoping I could get her into safe hands before anything else happened. I knew my brother was trying. But, he just couldn’t be there all the time, and I was 2,000 miles away.

At the end of the summer, just before I was to leave Vail, she suffered a second, more serious stroke. This one left her unable to speak properly and unable to eat by herself. My wife and I hurriedly packed, for both New York City and Greece, not knowing what awaited us.

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When we arrived, we found her in a wretched state. My brother and her doctor were already talking about health proxies and Do Not Rescusitate procedures.

I went in to see her and soon realized that she was still not ready to die. I fought off their efforts to make the DNR form a priority. I knew her well enough to tell she wasn’t leaving us. Her health had suffered a terrible shock, one from which she would probably never fully recover. But die? Not yet.

My wife and I stayed at her apartment, which was only a few blocks from the hospital. Stase went every day to tend to her, while I rushed around making arrangements, always winding up at the end of the day at her bedside. In time, she brightened.



Amidst all the family memorabilia she had managed to collect over more than half a century, I wondered if I could break it all down and store or sell it. Two weeks in New York City went by with lightning speed. We raced toward getting her released, finding and putting her into a good nursing home, arranging for movers, packing up all the stuff and separating what was coming back to Colorado with us.

The day before we were to take an early morning flight back home, the movers came. What we hadn’t been able to pack up in the preceeding days, they helped us with, and by the end of the day, it was done.

As I looked around the now empty space, it hit me: My mother’s presence here had made this apartment my home, too, although I had never lived there myself. She’d only been there for two years. Yet somehow, it felt safe.

That’s what home does. We slept at a friend’s house that night and left before daylight the next morning for the airport. Mom would be moved to the nursing home that upcoming Monday.

Hurricane Isabel dictated the weather in New York City throughout those two weeks. But, even then, we had experienced some nice pre-autumn days, crisp, clean, warm and sometimes cool.

Our plane flew west. Below us we could see the remnants of the hurricane, thick and dark, over Pennsylvania. We landed into a glorious Colorado autumn I had expected to miss due to the planned trip to Greece.

My wife and I just looked at each other. Colorado is the best place in the world to fly back to. Her mother, sister and our little nephew met us there. This, too, was home, and it felt good to be back.

Gus Nicholson


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