About Me

Thanks for being here! I am a mom of three (two girls, 15 and 13, and one boy, 9) and a teacher of many (thousands during my more than 17 years teaching high school English and Spanish in Philadelphia). Forever a student, I love learning - whether through talking to others, reading, watching movies and documentaries, or traveling. I also love running (slowly), hiking, and practicing yoga!

Monday, November 17, 2014

My Coat, My Mom's Coat

Me in my winter coat. Photo by 10-year-old Grace. 
Last year, my mom gave me a winter coat for Christmas. It is warm -- filled with "Premium European Goose Down" -- and covers me from head to knees. She gave it to me a month early because, like this year, winter arrived in November. I wore it almost every day. My sister laughed when she saw me in it because she had, unbeknownst to my mom, picked out an almost identical coat for her. So it came to be that my mom and I had matching coats. Yet my sister never got to give my mom the coat the way she wanted to. A week before Christmas, my mom had a CAT scan showing that she was not responding to treatment. A few days later, she and my dad met with hospice/palliative care. That day, Kate called me while I was driving to my parents. We cried together and debated whether or not she should give my mom the coat. Yes, we eventually decided. It was an act of hope, even though we knew. And my mom and I did wear those coats together a few times. She came to Grace's basketball games until she couldn't, always wearing the coat that made us laugh when we saw each other. "The twins," my mom would say.

She wore it, too, to her last doctor's appointment at Penn. It was on a Friday afternoon and the plan was that I would meet her and  my dad at their house and drive with them, but a snowstorm snarled traffic, so we decided to meet at the hospital. I knew that when it took me an hour and a half to drive across the city (usually a 15-minute drive) that my parents were in trouble, but what were they to do? They had already left and there was no turning back. Four hours later, and many panicked phone calls between my dad and me as he tried to find the best route (at one point I asked a police officer at the information desk, and he just shook his head, "Lady, the whole city's at a standstill. There's no good route"), my parents made it to within two blocks of the hospital, but were still not moving. My dad called, "Mom got out of the car and is walking the rest of the way. I think I'll be another half hour. I'll call you when I park.") I ran outside to look for her, but the snow was swirling and vision was tough. I crossed the street, walked in the direction of my dad's car, and still didn't see her. Wondering how I would ever find her, I ran back towards the hospital and there she was, standing right in front. "Mom!" I yelled, waving my hands above me, then running. She, in her coat, lifted her hand as well and smiled, shaking her head. A moment more and we were together, laughing at the absurdness of it all. In the nearly empty hospital we at first found that no one was on her floor, but a nurse on her way out led us to another floor, where, when I knocked and opened the door, another nurse, once I had explained our situation, said "Don't worry. We'll take care of you here. We got you." And they did.

This year, I've already worn the coat to the girls' soccer games, and to work. Every time I put it on I think of my mom with gratitude. Did she know what a perfect gift this would be when she gave it last year? Did she know how much I would appreciate feeling warm, and loved, every time I put it on? Sometimes, when I miss my mom too much, I like to think of seeing her again one day. And maybe it will be just like that day at Penn, in the snowstorm, when we finally found each other again and laughed about our arduous journeys. "Can you believe it?" we'll shake our heads, but not unhappily, because we are together. "So much time to get here!"

For now, I have the coat. The cold weather is bitter and brutal, and I can't say I enjoy it one bit, but I can stand it because of my coat, and that's going to be enough until the spring.