a change in plans

When you’re a mom, a plan is rarely THE plan. One of my friends on Facebook posted this as her status update yesterday, and the phrase immediately stuck a chord with me.

Yesterday morning, my husband, kids, and I left the house at 7:15, about 25 minutes later than originally planned, ready for our day trip to Disney World. We have annual passes which expire in early March, so we wanted to get at least another trip or two in before then. My 4-year old son was intent on adding to his stuffed animal collection, and I think his entire reason for wanting to go was to look for another stuffed Eeyore. My 7-year old daughter’s wish was to ride Space Mountain with me. She likes to watch me scream in fear; it makes her laugh.

We had been on the road about 45 minutes when I looked down at my phone and saw that I’d missed a call from my mom. I listened to her message.

“I need you to call me back as soon as you can.”

An hour later, I was sitting in the emergency room at the hospital where I work, holding my dad’s hand. He couldn’t walk without nausea and vomiting. His jaw hurt so badly he needed morphine. The left-side of his face wouldn’t work. “I’m so glad you’re here,” he said when I arrived. “It hurts.”

Today, multiple blood tests, an MRI, and a CT angiogram later, we know he has a small brain tumor that has caused this whole mess. We knew he had this little tumor, but it was benign-appearing, so surgery wasn’t done a year ago when it was found. It has now tripled in size, most likely because it bled on the inside.

Tomorrow a neurosurgeon will operate on my father’s brain to remove the tumor.

My dad is doing better today. He’s still a little dizzy at times, but he’s able to walk on his own. He still can’t move the left side of his face. He’s flirting with the nurses and the therapists. He tells me he’s not scared of the surgery. He knows that he doesn’t have a choice. He’s just worried for all of us, for his family.

In the "friendship line", Grandaddy is the one on the left (G). Nana (N) is on the far right.

I had planned to cook all day today. I had been looking forward to baking something, something I could share with you here. Instead, I spent the day at the hospital with my father, holding his hand, giving him hugs, refilling his cup of ice water when it ran out. My children visited him, and he gave them graham crackers and cookies that he sweet-talked the speech therapist into fetching for him.

When you’re a mom, a plan is rarely THE plan. This rings true whether you’re a mom, a daughter, a wife, a sibling, a loved one.

Tomorrow a neurosurgeon will operate on my dad’s brain.

I will be there waiting for him to get out so I can hold his hand again, and so he can hold mine.

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17 Responses to “she took her name off the list”

  1. 1
    Gail — December 18, 2014 @ 6:00 pm


    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — December 18th, 2014 @ 6:36 pm

      xoxo right back to you, Gail.

  2. 2

    MJ – I am so sorry to hear about this but glad your mum is on the road to recovery. She’s so lucky to have a daughter like you (and I bet she loves being known as the Doctor’s mum!) XOX

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — December 18th, 2014 @ 6:36 pm

      Thank you so much, Mardi. xo

  3. 3
    Cheryl — December 18, 2014 @ 6:41 pm

    Too often the diagnosis is broken heart. But they can mend and she is showing that. You are a daughter she can be proud of too.

  4. 4
    Janis — December 18, 2014 @ 6:53 pm

    I believe that your mom is wonderful. Look at who she raised ;–)

  5. 5
    Paula Kelly-Bourque — December 18, 2014 @ 7:29 pm

    I have read so many of your posts about you, your father, your family with such a lump in my throat that it was hard to swallow. This one just plain made me tear up. My heart goes out to your Mother, truly it does and I shall remember her and your family in my prayers. God bless all of you.

  6. 6
    Liren — December 19, 2014 @ 1:41 am

    Mothers always think of themselves last, why is it so? MJ, this post touched the deepest part of my heart, and I’m glad she has you there as she remembers herself and how important she is. Sending love to you as you stay strong for your family, too.

  7. 7
    Leigh — December 19, 2014 @ 8:25 am

    Beautifully written. I’m sending so much love to you both. xo

  8. 8
    Flavia — December 19, 2014 @ 11:47 am

    Thank you for sharing such a beautifully written post, MJ. You are blessed to have a mother like yours; not everyone is so fortunate. I can relate to your mom in some ways after being a caregiver for my great-aunt at the end of last year and the beginning of this year. Unlike your mom who dedicated years to caregiving, I only took on the responsibility for five months, but I know what it was like to take myself completely “off the list”, and I know the feelings of sadness and grief that settle into your heart when caregiving responsibilities were over. There is so much that stays with you and so much to “process”. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It was often frustrating and heartbreaking. But it was also a blessing and a privilege.

    My prayers are with your mom for a full recovery and a journey back to putting herself not just back on the list, but right at the top. Merry Christmas my friend. So happy to know you. xo

  9. 9
    Sharon — December 19, 2014 @ 2:37 pm

    This made me cry. I so empathize. I hope she takes time to have fun. I have been going through poor health,knee replacement and anxiety wasn’t able to eat for a month I was so shaky and anxious. I hope your Mom feels better soon. I finally started to eat and making energy drinks. I just blend peanut butter, milk, ice, half banana and little chocolate syrup. Seemed to help…at least mentally 🙂

  10. 10
    Alicia K. — December 19, 2014 @ 4:30 pm

    Thank you for sharing your mom’s story. I’m guessing many of us can relate and empathize in some way. I’ve printed your recipe and shall rename it Mrs. George’s Daughter’s Butter Cookies to remind me whenever I look at it of this story about your strong and beautiful mom who put herself back on the list. I cheer for her!

  11. 11
    Cherie — December 19, 2014 @ 5:09 pm

    This touched me so – I’m so glad your mother has put herself back on the list 🙂

    I am going through a divorce, and things for so long have been about taking care of everyone else and keeping all the balls in the air. As things progress I am realizing that for a long time I’ve taken myself off the list. I am trying very hard to find a way back to myself, to get myself on the list, to put my oxygen mask on so I can help those around me do the same.

    My prayers for your mother’s mental and physical health – and for you as you find a new balance caring for her and supporting HER as she cares for your brother.

  12. 12
    Vanessa @frenchfoodiemom — December 20, 2014 @ 2:34 pm

    MJ, thank you for gifting us your mother’s beautiful story. Such a lovely tribute and an important reminder to all of us in the middle place, busy taking care of both children and parents, to not forget our own needs. I hope your mom returns to her dominoes and books soon. She is lucky to have your love and support.

    Your cookie recipe will be our first baked item in our new stove later today.

  13. 13
    Katie Fiore — December 20, 2014 @ 5:00 pm

    Such a touching and moving story. You’ve put it into words beautifully as well.

  14. 14
    Colleen — December 22, 2014 @ 1:49 pm

    Condolences on the loss of your father. What a beautiful tribute to your mother. I have tears on so many levels. But hope, too. Thank you for sharing.

  15. 15
    Mallory @forkvsspoon — December 29, 2014 @ 1:11 pm

    So touching – you have a story telling gift, especially with stories that are hard to write but they are often the ones that hit a chord with so many. Thanks for sharing and much love to you and your mom!

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