"I want you to write about some missed opportunity. It can be real or imagined, but make us either feel sorry for you or chuckle about your gaffe. Make sure the reader can understand the missed opportunity and how it (might have) affected your later life. Use prose or poetry and write fiction, nonfiction, or an essay."
The telephone rang on an early Saturday morning in February startling both my husband and I. While still groggy I couldn’t imagine who it could be. Then I heard Katie’s voice. Katie was my mother’s caretaker for the last two years and had painfully watched her decline into the depths of Alzheimer’s.
“Cathy, your Mother got up this morning, stepped into the hall, and fell face first to the floor. She is dead. We called the EMTs and they are taking her to the hospital. If you don‘t want any extraordinary measures you had better get down there as quick as you can.”
Even though this had been a scenario I had been preparing for, I could still only manage to reply, “Okay, thanks Kate.”
I sat for a moment before I told my husband and called my Dad. He would meet us in front of his apartment building. He too remained stoic. But then he had been without Mom for a good three years or more, if not physically then mentally.
We arrived at the hospital where a physician told us that Mom had passed. The Chaplain arrived and took us the room where she lay on a gurney. I didn’t recognize her. Her skin was grey, her hair a mass of unkempt hair, and her fingernails were long and unpolished. None of those things she would have allowed if she were……well…..herself.
Then it struck me like a bucket of ice water had been thrown at me. Hospice had been scheduled to come and take over her care. I had planned to go and stay with her until she had slipped away. I was going to do her hair and nails. I was going to talk to her while I rubbed her skin with a flowery lotion and say a rosary or maybe many rosaries. I didn’t even get the priest there to give her a final blessing.
I had failed her. I missed out on the opportunity to be with her and to give her the kind of comfort a daughter should. I should have called Hospice earlier. I should have ignored what Kate said and came and stayed. I knew she could get violent but maybe she was too weak to be violent anymore.
All my decisions were either wrong or late. People tell me I couldn’t have known. I believe that I should have known and it is a deep regret that I will have the rest of my life.
Copyright Catherine Johnson