My mom died the day after Crossover Day in the Georgia General Assembly. Crossover Day is an extremely important day. Any legislation that has not made it from one chamber of the General Assembly into the other will not pass. Its typically a long day that can go well past midnight. It is a stressful day of politicking the has the ability to effect Georgians in multiple ways.
My mom died the day after Crossover Day in 2015. Less than 30 days after we first took her to the hospital – she was gone. I spent long days and nights at the Capitol. My interactions with her were limited to saying goodnight if she was not asleep when I got home or a phone call reminder of something related to the children. But when I got a good glimpse of her, she had lost tons of weight and her color was changing. I knew something wasn’t right. I regret not taking her sooner. She kept telling me she was just in mourning. My father, her husband of almost 40 years, had just died six months before that.
My mom died the day after Crossover Day. They moved her into hospice about two weeks before. She went to hospice before she ever made it to her first oncologist appointment. It was unexpected because in my dad’s last days he looked like he was dying. He lost the ability to speak. Then the ability to move. Then the ability to open his eyes. His decline took several days after an almost two and half year battle with cancer. Learning mommy was diagnosed with cancer less than thirty days before made me believe I had two more years with her too. She was lucid, talking, her normal “stop fussing over me” self literally until her very last breath. In her transition only the doctors and nurses could read her vitals and tell she was declining in her body – but her mind and her mouth, were as feisty as always. Bonnie was a clap back, you got the wrong one, fearless woman of steel … in public.
My mom died the day after Crossover Day. For the weeks she was in and out of Grady Hospital. I would bounce in between the Capitol, running to get the kids, and heading to the hospital. Although I gave her every minute I wasn’t in traffic or at work, I only gave her an hour or so of me each day. She was there – alone. When we learned about her diagnoses I made the immediate decision I would not seek re-election and strongly considered resigning so I can be her full-time caretaker. I had the nerve to pat myself on the back for being willing to give up a political career to do for my mom what she did to care for my dad. I had the nerve to think what I was doing was a sacrifice when I only spent my left over time with her - an hour or two every day while she was in the hospital - dying.
My mom died the day after Crossover Day. I don’t remember what I even voted for that day. I have zero clue what important decisions we made for Georgia that day and if my one little vote made a single difference in those decisions. I remember however how much time I spent in the Capitol instead of rubbing mommy’s feet, stroking her hair, going over memories of what she meant to me, retelling the funny things she told me, and using those minutes to create more memories. Georgia didn’t need me that day. My mom needed to know that she was the most important person in someone’s world. She was the most important person in my father’s world. And although I am at peace because I know she rather be with him wherever they are than without him … she still deserved to know her importance to me.
My mom died the day after Crossover day. The nurse checked her vitals again like she had been doing every minute. The last time she checked the nurse told us how bleak it was. Me, my sister, my grandmother, and my mom’s best friend stood over her. Someone holding each of her hands. Each of us wiping away tears. We sat there – for several very awkward minutes while mommy laid her head back on the mounds of pillows with her eyes closed. Then she suddenly opened her eyes, snatched back both of her hands, and swatted all of our hands away and said, “let me go, yall are making me hot. Go sit down somewhere.” Yea, those were my moms last words – “go sit down somewhere.” She passed a short time after that, eyes closed just like she fell asleep for a nap.
My mom died the day after crossover day. For the last three years since her passing, I get moments when I miss her. A day rarely goes by that I don’t think about mommy and daddy. However, many of my busy days I’m too busy to mourn her or be sad about something I didn’t say or do while she was here. But as a political nerd, I can’t avoid knowing that Crossover Day at the Capitol is approaching. If you follow politics it’s a pretty big deal and you cannot avoid it. It is always a reminder that late at night before she passed I put my responsibilities as a State Representative over my last minutes with my mom. I regret that deeply. Every year thinking of Crossover day brings an awkward and horrible reminder that I could have been a better daughter.
My mom died.