January 3, 2011

The fickleness of life and weather



     This morning dawned very differently than the morning of January 3, 1998. The Maine, weather was brutal. Fortunately, Bangor Hospital had hotel-like hospitality units with interior access to the hospital proper.

     I remember the early morning phone call that came as I was preparing to go to breakfast. The hospital staff person told me gently that my mother, Nancy Briskay Cornell Lipsius, had just passed on. I tried to call my sister Cynthia’s room, but somehow couldn’t make the connection. I assumed she and my other sister, Jane, would also be called, as would my stepfather Hugh.

     I tried to call Cynthia, but couldn’t make the connection. I took the elevator to the lobby, where Hugh was waiting. I thought he knew. He didn’t. I had to break the news to him.

     “Damn,” he said, hitting the arm of his wheelchair.

     At 7:00 a.m. the nurse led code blue. The medical team worked with my mother for a half hour. They knew, from the EKG, that she had experienced another heart attack. Her cardiac arrest occurred on the postal lateral part of her heart, in the circumflex artery that he had cleaned out when she arrived in Bangor—a two-hour drive from her home in Presque Isle.

     “It was damage upon damage,” he said, referring to the problems leading up to this final heart attack. “She couldn’t take it anymore.”

     We all prepared to travel to Presque Isle. I rode with Cynthia, who knew the way. She lived in a nearby town at that time. I had flown into the devastating ice storm that hit the northeastern United States—now I was to travel two miles further north on extremely icy roads.

     Anyone who knows me knows how uneasy that would make me. I took the blame for my mother dying in these conditions (see link to the post, A Mother’s Final Retaliation, at end of this post). It was a fearful ride, but we made it safely.

     When it came time to leave, to fly to Buffalo, New York, where my mother would have a memorial service (she lived there a good bit of her adult life, moving there from New Hampshire in 1955 and relocating to Maine in the early 1980s).

     I had to be on the road today, too. I wondered at the bright blue sky, the glaring sun. Yes, it was cold. In the low 20s. The roads in Laurel Mountain Borough, Pennsylvania, were icy, but upon entering the main road this hazard was no more. Very different from the January 3, 1998, Maine weather.

     I expected my mother to be available on the morning of January 3, 1998. I expected to spend some quiet time in her presence. As I discovered, that was not to be.

     Both life and the winter weather can be fickle.




Only Space Aliens Look Forward to Winter

I’m Posting Every Day in 2011!

Writings by my mother:


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