Ibu is 61 this year. Cancer has taken a toll on her appearance, although she is still relatively healthy to go about with her daily activities with naps in between. As a person, she still remains as feisty as ever.
Ibu has always been strict but we know she meant well.
Ibu has always knew she had cancer before this year. The signs have always been there but we choose to throw caution to the wind. Insya’allah, all will be fine. Plus, sometimes, we take for granted our parents’ existence. We forget they aren’t going to be with us forever.
It had not crossed my mind before my parents were getting old until I took a closer look at them during my grandpa’s funeral last year, May. Their faces were deeply lined. A wave of emotion suddenly overcame me and my eyes moistened. They had gone through so much to bring up all of us. And so, I made some plans.
My siblings agreed to sponsor my parents’ umrah/ziarah trip. So last December, my parents went with me and my husband. It has been quite some time since their last overseas trip. But all this was minor compared to what they had done for us. My parents have always brought all of us in all their yearly overseas trips with the exception of Haj (but for Haj, they brought my brother). So forking out some money for their trip last year was no big deal, really.
The 15 days spent with my parents was an eye opener. I remember whatsapping my siblings daily with regards to Ibu’s condition. I did not know the seriousness of her condition until that trip that I vowed to get her checked after we came back. Getting Ibu back home was not an easy feat. I was not going to accept the fact I’d be going home without her. Selfish on my part, maybe. Yup, behind all the pretty photos uploaded lies many trying moments.
I remembered crying daily. It doesn’t help when you see your father treating your mom like a princess with tender loving care, as if he knew something you didn’t know. If there was no wheel chair, he would help Ibu on a trolley and trolleyed her to the destination. He would keep on buying medicine for Ibu. Ayah even bought Ibu’s clothes and get them tailored to fit her frame in Egypt at night when she had no more clothes to wear. Most of her clothes were stained with blood.
Sidetracking, I’m forever grateful to Ayah for showing my husband patience and love when the tough gets going. Is has so much respect for Ayah. Is even prayed that he’d be granted with the same attitude if I’d be my mom, one day. I remembered asking him why he prayed so long. That was his answer.
Ibu has staged 4 womb cancer. Diagnosed exactly a month after we came back, exactly on my 33rd birthday. True enough as what I whatsapped my siblings then, Ibu’s time is really short. Coupled with her heart condition, it’s not helping.
As Ibu is ageing, her cooking skills are slowly deteriorating. Her dishes are sometimes too salty or too bland. We never complain, but shudder at the thought of not being able to enjoy her cooking any more. Hers is made with love. On bad days, Cancer robbed us of Ibu as we knew her. The roles get reversed.
It’s no fun. The first time I had to play mummy to her had me crying for days. By now, you’d have figure me out, I cry a lot.
To see Ibu becoming child like in behaviour was heart wrenching. As the end draws near we must face the frightening possibility that she may never deliver the nurturing, the soothing, the infinite loving our inner child still needs. Reversing roles is no fun for her either. She is ashamed to need help from us, her children, and may sometimes resent or reject our assistance. Ibu tells people I’m her ‘Mak Tiri’. It hurts but someone has to play the bad role. Even her doctor scolds me if I slacked a bit.
Thanks to palliative care and treatment, we have more good days. It has been a roller coaster ride for us but we’ll pull through. As we watch our parents grow old, we are also facing our own middle age. Our mortality becomes intertwined with theirs. As we see them inch closer to the end, we can no longer ignore the march of time and the brevity of life.
Ibu never asks or hints for any gift when Mother’s Day comes by every year. But she will always ask when her children are coming to visit her. The presence of her children means more to her than all the expensive gifts and holidays in the world. With Mothers Day coming up, I am reminded of my strict and loving mother who taught me the meaning of building relationship, independence, self worth, perseverence and tenacity. I can never thank her enough. Come this time around next year, Ibu may not be around with us to celebrate Mothers Day but I hope then, we would be able to look back and smile because we had no regrets.
As for the coming June holidays, am I going for a holiday? Yes I am. I need to spend time with my husband. I’m grateful to my husband as well as to my in laws for being understanding and allowing me time to spend with Ibu. I am a wife, first. Plus, Ibu gave her blessings. I secretly believe that she wants a break from her ‘Mak Tiri’. She said wherever I’ll be, she’ll come to me and wished me goodbye if the time comes. She will, afterall she’s my oracle and my life meddler. Insya’allah. 🙂
Ibu’s good friend blogged about her here: http://www.matahati-kamariah.blogspot.com/2012/04/segalanya-datang-darinya.html