Saturday, October 27, 2007

Sunday Scribblings: Hospital


The prompt from Sunday Scribblings this week is fortuitous as my mom has just found out she is in need of surgery and a 7- to 10-day stay in the hospital. She lives in Florida, and I live clear across the country in the Bay Area. Her health, her welfare, her recovery are all on my mind.

There are five “kids,” all in our 40’s, save for the eldest, a son, who is 50. My sister and I live in California. The oldest lives in Alabama. My two other brothers live a little more than two hours away from my mom.

Four out of five kids have been talking about the upcoming stay, trying to fix it so that my mom has companionship for the weeks following her hospital stay. My mother has adamantly rebuffed any attempts by us to be there while she’s undergoing surgery and during her hospital stay. It is up to her, of course, and I’m trying my best not to fixate on the act of the surgery and the post-operative stay.

But I am a fixator. [I know it’s not a word, but I’m using it anyway.] Thankfully, my middle brother has many of the same feelings I do. He will show up at the hospital for that day, along with my younger brother. They will not intrude on her choice, but they will also not allow her to be in the hospital without people who love her nearby, emanating the vibes that everyone needs now and again.

And what of the fifth offspring, my oldest brother? Where does he fit into this quite unfamiliar familial encircling? None of us know. What we do know is that he is a rabid Jehovah’s Witness. [I wonder: is that term repetitive? Don’t “rabid” and “Jehovah’s Witness” go hand-in-hand?] He has not seen fit to see my mother in about a decade. As a Jehovah’s Boy – the term I like to use – he certainly has not acknowledged countless birthdays, Christmases, or Mother’s Days. Beyond that, though, he just doesn’t seem to acknowledge her at all. And that causes her much pain. And, in turn, that causes me much pain.

Neither my mother nor the organizing middle brother has contacted him about it. They have reached out in the past and he’s not seen fit to reach back. I do recall him calling my mother about a year ago and telling her he was going to come visit her for a week in January. He called right about the time he was going to be visiting – or so he had said – to say he couldn’t get away, but next month it would happen. It didn’t. And he’s not been in contact since.

For a man of God, he seems quite lacking in the God-encouraged attributes of love, of friendship, of honoring your parents, of being a good person. But perhaps I’ve gotten my religion wrong. Who am I to say what God desires? I will permit myself to say with certainty what a mother – most any mother – desires. And, frankly, if he can’t actually spit up any love for his mother from his soul, can’t he at least fake it for what she’s done for him in the past?

I will be emailing Jehovah’s Boy. I will be keeping out as much of the emotion as I can. I am twirling the words around in my mind. And they go something like this:

“N., I just wanted to let you know that Mom is going into the hospital next month for surgery. She’ll have to stay in the hospital for seven to 10 days. We’re trying to coordinate visiting her after the hospital stay – she doesn’t want us to actually be there, at the hospital – as the recovery time will be upwards of six weeks. S. has a handle on all of our comings and goings.

“I’ve indicated in the past that I’m not up on the teachings of your religion. I’m not sure if this falls into the realm of something you are not supposed to be a part of or if it is perhaps something you feel incapable of being a part of for whatever reason. But if you’re interested in being there, you can contact S. at EMAIL.”

What do you think? Too much of a needle or just the right amount? I’d appreciate your thoughts.


31 comments:

Maria said...

I think it is perfect. It gives him needed information but doesn't say you expect anything from him. In fact, it might be pretty effective reverse psychology. It might make him feel as if he probably isn't important enough to be there, so none of you are really counting on him...

That may be just the kick that someone like him needs. Who knows? We are all such confusing creatures.

My best good wishes to your mother.

chichimama said...

I so hope things go well for your mother. Thinking of you and your family...

Herb Urban said...

That has to be difficult with siblings spread out all across the country. I wish the best for your mother's surgery and for a speedy recovery.

UL said...

Good luck to your mom, oh such difficult times and more worrying when you are living far off.

Linda said...

Personally I think you are being quite kind to your brother with such a diplomatic email and I am not so sure that I could be quite as nice about it as you are.

I don't care what religion you are - if you can't care about the woman who gave you birth then I don't think that makes you much of a Christian or believer or whatever you want to call yourself. It is appalling that your brother should be so callous of his own mother and frankly, considering he has shown nothing but disregard for her in the past, I might very well have disregarded him in letting him know about the surgery.

Maybe your email will serve as a kick but my guess is that you won't be hearing anything from him at all. And that's very, very sad.

Best wishes to your Mom for a successful surgery and speedy recovery.

Linda said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Just Jen said...

I think its a perfect email. I'm not a big fan of jehovah witnesses but I must say, it does surprise over the lack of visiting. I don't think that has anything to do with being a JW or anything. I think that's just neglectful. I wish your mom and you and your siblings all the best during this trying time. Try not to dwell too much on your brother, all you can is lay the ball in his court and see if he throws it back. Just be there for your mom, she'll appreciate it. On a side note, my mom went for surgery and didn't want me or my siblings (there are 4 of us)there either. I think as moms we want to protect our children and we think keeping them away will protect them. I don't think moms realize that as adults, we want to be there even more so! Anyway, hope all goes well, didn't mean for this to be so long..lol

arboleda said...

I hope she recovers well.

D... said...

I hope your mom has a smooth recovery. Good thoughts to you and your family.

I didn't find anything wrong with your email.

Jeni said...

Prayers for a smooth recovery for your Mom - as well as providing for as stressfree as possible time during that period for you and your siblings. Perhaps there is more of an undercurrent involved as to why the brother has not visited, not kept in contact and he doesn't feel comfortable explaining things to the family. I dunno, that's for sure. I don't think your letter was all that "needling" -it was relatively straight-forward, to the point and as polite as I would think you could make it, all things considered.

forgetfulone said...

Just the right amount of needling - maybe not quite enough, actually. It was very well-worded. You've also coined a new phrase - fixator. I like it! I am saying a prayer for your mom right now. Keep us Sunday Scribbling friends posted.

tumblewords said...

Fixator's a fine word and your message to the 'boy' is probably not needle-y enough. On the other hand...
I wish your mother the best of health, a speedy recovery and that the times you all visit with her will be full of joy and warmth.

jenica said...

i think that it is well worded.

although i doubt that his distance has been because of the JW's. because i come from another commonly misunderstood religion (i'm LDS) i know the feeling of not having your family understand certain actions or beliefs. and then only feeling more misunderstood when every behavior is thrown into the category *it's because she's mormon*

he's absolutely being an idiot for not contacting his mother. i'm glad that you're letting him know about the surgery. hopefully he'll jump back into the game.

best wishes to your family and mother. (((bighugs)))

raymond pert said...

Personally, I would leave off the "I just wanted you to know" and cut to the chase: "Mom is going into the hospital. . ."

Personally, I wouldn't address the religion and what you know about it or not. I'd say something more like, "Mother would love to see you and I hope you can come."

I say this because the concern of your email is your mother, not his practice of being a JW. I think writing about his religion complicates the invitation. I'd just tell him what's up with your mom and that she'd like to see him.

Good luck with this very sensitive situation. I hope your mother recovers well and that somehow your family's tensions can be eased.

Betty C. said...

I also think you hit just the right tone. Best wishes for your Mom, especially...

Robin said...

I think I'm with Raymond on this one. The issue in question right now is will your brother come visit your mother. I'd keep it about the upcoming surgery and recovery. Whether or not his religion would keep him away from the hospital, I can't imagine any kind of religion telling you you can't sit by your ill mother's side.

I'd be very blunt. She is ill, she needs her children around her right now. Will you come?

Religion in this case seems to be an excuse, not a justification. Either way, you just can't win a religious argument. By its very nature it is something that makes it almost impossible to compromise.

My best wishes for your mother, I hope she draws great strength from having her children around her, however many that turns out to be.

Toni said...

Stick it to him, sister!

I am not a big fan of the Jehovah Witnesses either but, as mentioned, I am really surprised he doesn't visit to witness to your mom. He must spend all of his time in my neighborhood. (: Just kidding!

Seriously, though, I think the email is just right! Wishing your mom safety, health and quick recovery...

Jo said...

I agree with Tumblewords, I'd give him a bit more needle.......I hope it all goes well for your mom.

Jolene said...

Hope your mom's surgery and recovery time are as quick and painless as possible.

I think you are being too kind to your brother, but the wording is just fine. If I were in your shoes, the email would be laced with guilt provoking and biting remarks.

Religion is no excuse for poor manners.

Josie Two Shoes said...

I would guess that your brother's issues are far more complex than just his religious preference. I know a few Jehovah's Witnesses (my ex mother-in-law was one, and so are coworkers). All of them consider family to be of the utmost importance, and wouldn't consider being absent from family in the hospital undergoing surgery. In no way does his religion teach him to turn away from his mother, it is sad if he has come to use that for an excuse. My heart hurts for your mom, I can only imagine how he hurts hers. I thought your email text was fair and to the point. It is now his choice, and he will have to live with the one he makes. I hope he comes to his senses before someday it is too late. Mothers always accept us back with open arms. I'll be praying for your mom's surgery to go well, she is blessed to have some loving and supportive children to ensure her care!

gautami tripathy said...

You email seems fine to me. With minimum emotion but conveying it all.

I sincerely hope he turns up. My best wishes for your mother on her surgery.

Rimarama said...

Hi, there. I found your blog via Works for Mom.

First of all, I hope that your mother's surgery goes well and she has a good recovery.

I have to say I agree with Raymond and the others who seconded his opinion about the email. I'd leave the part about his religion out. If the goal is to make him aware of your mother's situation so that he does the right thing by her in paying a visit or at least contacting her, it seems that the more neutral the email, the better to achieve this end. (Although I do understand the desire to give him a piece of your mind. I don't know that much about Jehovah's Witnesses, but I don't think that cutting yourself off from your family entirely is one of the tenets.)

Good luck!

Lucy said...

hope you're mom has a quick recovery and everything goes well. I reallly related to this post. I also have a family member who doesn't do enough for my mom and has her very upset. It is a difficult thing to have to confront someone, but I think your note seems perfect. I've also met many religious people who don't seem to be as loving as you would think they're preached to be.
thanks for visiting me, and hang in there. :)

John Tran said...

I hope everything will do well for your family. My mom sometimes tells us not to do something because she doesn't want to burden us, but I know deep down she's hoping we will take the initiative and do it anyways. Thanks for visiting my blog.

Bren said...

Good thoughts going out to your mom at this time.
I think the email to your brother was right on. Hope for your mom's sake, he is able to see her.

bubandpie said...

I'm with Raymond, Robin, and Rimarama (even though my name doesn't start with R!). The second paragraph seems like a reaction to a refusal that hasn't come yet - and in a way that makes it easier for him to refuse, since you expect him to anyway. I think it'd be stronger at the point of first contact to take it as a given that obviously he will come - and then if he comes up with some excuse, you can needle away to your heart's content.

susiej said...

Perfect. I don't think you could say it any other way; but coming from someone who has watched these kinds of things escalate; don't be surprised if it gets huffy, and accuses you of being insensitive. Someone in his shoes would see this as the perfect opportunity to show everyone how much of a victim he is, no matter how delicately you worded your speech, or email. Some people are looking for a platform; they haven't yet "healed" something within themselves, and this might just be the platform they need.

Gill said...

I think your email is very diplomatic, it says all it needs to say, gets the message across very thoroughly and leaves out any unnecessary mudslinging. I hope the surgery and recovery go well!

WorksForMom said...

First of all, I am so sorry Patois. I hope the surgery goes well. I'll be thinking of you and her.

And your e-mail? Perfect, IMHO.

Fixator? Me too...

Pen and the Sword said...

I am not sure how to handle that situation. I know my father's little girlfriend and kid are and my dad and our family is not. I always found that the non-celebration of birthdays, Christmas, etc to be rather strange. I would leave out the part about his religion and just say if you are interested in being there, please email so and so. I do hope everything works out; for your mother, your family.

Gina said...

I'm thinking good thoughts for you and your mum.

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