I am sure some of you have unanswered questions to ask mom about.
My mother Lucila Oanes turned 70 this past April 3rd, I recently turned 42 and my younger brother Karl turned the big four zero in March, 2014. Our family celebrated our birthdays with mom and dad on a Royal Caribbean cruise which ported from Los Angeles to Catalina and Mexico from May 30th – April 6th, 2014. Although mom was celebrating her 70th birthday you would have believed this energetic, vivacious, bubbly, kind and adventurous woman wasn’t a day over 55! This was just 2 months ago.
Saturday evening my mother was admitted to the Georgetown hospital after having difficulty breathing and becoming too weak to perform any of her daily functions. She had pneumonia for over 10 days and her prescribed antibiotics were not working. Sunday mid-day my mother went from bad to worse and before our family could meet her in time to reach her bedside, the emergency doctor decided to immediately intubate her as she was unable to breathe on her own. It was just in time and before we could make it in time to speak with her.
Today is the 7th day she has been in the hospital and I have had a lot of time to think about all the possible “What ifs?” What’s even worse is that my father has had 3 heart attacks, has diabetes, high blood pressure, mediocre vision and requires 2 hearing aids to hear properly. Our family is used to having HIM be the one that we all visit (in the hospital) and this time it’s weird that my mother is ill.
As we were all driving to the hospital this past Sunday morning with a car full of concerned immediate family members, the attending emergency nurse called my older brothers cell phone and wanted ONLY to speak with him. She said the doctor needed to speak with him and share some news with our family. She followed up with asking HOW LONG until we got to the hospital. I panicked on the spot. The tears started flowing and I was crying out loud thinking about the WORST possible news. My sister-in-law Grace, sitting to my right began to console me as my whole head was buried in between the palms of my hands. I began to shake and cry anticipating only that the news would be my mother had passed in her hospital bed, all alone, with no one around her and with no opportunity for me to ask or share any last and final words. What happened; is the doctor needed to tell Roy that my mother needed to be intubated and that she gave her permission verbally to do whatever was required to help her live and get better. I couldn’t have been more relieved. First thoughts were “Thank God.”
My mother was transported Sunday afternoon to the Oakville ICU facility which was much better equipped to provide my mother with the best available care. She is still there and still unable to breathe on her own. It was discovered her pneumonia caused severe lung damage and she has been medically paralyzed in order for the ventilator to work solely on giving her body rest as her lungs receive the appropriate amount of oxygen. Mom is now resting and fighting to get better.
I am waiting for my mother to come out of her induced coma. The shell of her body lying in the bed resembles my mother, but is lacking her energy and typical enthusiasm. Her hand seems so frail and her fingernails need painting. I never imagined my mother “getting old” as she has always just been my mom; the ageless wonder. As I watch her and listen to the machine breathing I reflect on the conversation I want to have with her. I realize that I really don’t know a whole lot about my mother. Throughout my entire life her role has been to care for me, protect me, provide for me and bail me out of trouble. My parents are both the eldest children of over 10 siblings each. They are traditional, strict law-abiding, God-fearing people. It saddens me to come to the realization although I THOUGHT my mother and I had an amazing relationship, I really did not know much about her on a very personal level.
My mother has always been there for me whenever I needed her. It suddenly dawned on me that at 42 years old, the woman who I can honestly say that I love the most in the whole entire universe is someone I don’t know all that well. Instantly I had a million questions pop up that I wanted to ask her. It became all too real that I may NOT have the opportunity to ask her these questions and that if I never do, the answers would be buried with her body. I would be eternally left wondering and not being able to pass along her memoirs and life experiences to her grandkids and future grandkids.
Here is my very short list of the top 50 questions I will ask my mother when she is well enough to have a conversation and leaves the ICU ward. If you have a mother or someone special in your life, I invite you to ask him/her YOUR top 50 questions and diarize them. Through this event in my life, it sparked my wish to diarize her life and digitally document it. Every day moms are performing miracles. You don’t have to be a pioneer, a millionaire, a movie star, a murderer, an astronaut, a professional soccer player who bites people to be acknowledged, idolized and known to the world. My mother is special to me and is the center of our gigantic family.
I want my children to know who their “Lola” (Filipino for grandmother) is, so that many, many years from now; Google and all future search engines of the world will have a record of the beautiful life and times of an absolutely radiant, loving, amazing, caring, talented, endearing and well-respected woman who I am so proud and privileged to call my Mom.
- What was your FIRST memory as a child? Tell me every detail.
- Do you remember your favorite elementary school teacher and why was he/she your favorite?
- Who was your best friend growing up in Elementary School? Where are they now?
- Who was your best high school friend?
- Who was your first crush? Do you still talk to him?
- What was your favorite toy as a child?
- What were the fads you liked in elementary school?
- What was your favorite fashion trend and why?
- Who was your favorite band growing up?
- What was your BEST memory as a single person before you were married?
- What is your greatest professional accomplishment?
- What was one thing you didn’t do that you WISH you had done now?
- What advice would you give to your 20 year old self knowing what you know now about your life?
- What are the names of all of your brothers and sisters and what do they do now? How can I contact them? (6 siblings and 5 half brothers/sisters)
- Who are all of my cousins and where are they? (over 30 of them!!)
- When was your mother’s birthday? (My grandmother who passed away before I met her)
- What are the names of your grand-parents and what did they do for a living?
- Where are your parents buried and where do I visit them in the Philippines?
- What’s the most beautiful place you’ve ever traveled? Tell me about it.
- If you could own a home outside of Canada, where would it be and what would it look like?
- If you won the lottery tell me the first 10 things you would do exactly and describe it step by step!
- If you were given 3 “do overs” in your past, what would they be?
- Who was your maid of honor and where is she now?
- Who were your bridesmaids and grooms men at your wedding?
- Where did you spend your honeymoon? Details!!
- What is the proudest moment you’ve shared with me, Roy and Arlan?
- How were you able to put up with me as a crazy teenager?
- What is the one thing you seem to worry about the most?
- What’s the one thing that makes you happy?
- When are you the happiest?
- What’s your favorite sport and why?
- What’s your all-time favorite movie and why?
- What’s your favorite place to eat and when is the last time you went there?
- What is it about dad that you really like? (lol)
- What prayer do you say when you are feeling scared or unsure about something?
- What’s your favorite piece of jewelry and why is it important to you?
- What’s something you’ve lost in the past that you were really upset about?
- What University did you go to and what did you graduate with?
- Which charity do you support the most and why does it mean so much to you?
- If you could remove 3 evils in the world, what would they be?
- What’s the last book you read and tell me about it.
- How would you describe your life in one word?
- What is your Super-power apart from being the best mom in the world?
- What was your least favorite subject and how did you make it more interesting?
- What piece of advice would you had given my former rebellious self that you wish I actually listened to?
- What are three things you wanted to do in life that you still need to do?
- What is your greatest personal accomplishment?
- If you could leave me with something to think about when you’re in heaven what would it be?
- If there’s anything today and in the future that I could do to make your life happier what would it be?
- If I could ask you all of these questions in person so I can write them all down, will you do that for me?
I love you mom.