My mother, Velda Rose Hammons. She died five years ago today while undergoing an MRI. She had been struggling with cancer for the previous five years and it came back in a flash.
The last decent conversation I had with her was earlier in the month while down at Edisto Beach, in South Carolina. I called her from the beach to tell her how much Andy loved playing in the sand, (he tried to eat it.) He was only 7 months old at the time. We talked about some of the times we would go to the beach in Galveston growing up. But mostly, she talked about how weak she was. She told me that she was dying, cancer had spread all over, and I knew it to be true.
Several weeks later when we finally got the call that she was in the hospital we flew into Houston and drove up to Lufkin to see her. She couldn’t see Andy because she was too sick -had a staff infection on top of it all- and it was too dangerous for Andy to go into the hospital room. The hardest part was realizing that if she came out of the hospital, she would have to go into Hospice care or a nursing home. There was no way she could take care of herself at that point.
It was also disappointing that she could not see Andrew. He was only 8 months old at that time, and she had yet to see him. It didn’t look like it would happen on this trip. We were heading out on Sunday and we did not know when we would come back to see her, if indeed we would.
Sunday night came. On the drive out, I realized I could not go. It was one of those times when my soul would not rest with the thought of leaving. Before we got to far, I turned around and went back to my cousin’s house where we had been staying. I was glad I did. On Monday afternoon, I talked to the head nurse and told her that I wanted to bring Andrew into the room so that she could meet him. She said if I wrapped him up in a blanket and made sure he did not touch anything, he could go in the room, where I could unwrap him, and only let her look at him. So we did. For a few brief moments, she finally got to see my son. Since she was on a ventilator, she could not speak, but I knew that she was smiling. I knew she also had a zillion questions but there was no time for that. I wrapped up Andy and we headed out of the hospital.
That was the last time I saw her. The next morning she died of a pulmonary embolism while undergoing an MRI. I’m glad we turned around. I’m glad she got to meet my son. I’m glad we got to say goodbye.