Lessons from Lou

This blog is about my journey through the brain tumor world with my dear husband, Lou. While not a journey I would wish on even my worst enemy, it is a journey that has enlightened and awakened me to what lies within us, and around us, each and every moment of each and every day. There are lessons here....lessons in this journey.....lessons from Lou....that I would like to share with you.

My Photo
Location: Chicago, Illinois

Picture of Lou (sick) and I at a party, circa 2005, long ago and faraway. I'm now a middle aged widow, trying to get my life back together. Mother of two young adult sons, living with two adult cats.

Sunday, May 13, 2007


Lou's mom was a dear, dear woman. She was first generation Greek, her parents were from Sparta. She was strong, like you would expect a Spartan to be, but gentle, loving, and caring. Her family was her life. She met Lou's father in a somewhat "arranged" manner, and it worked. Interestingly, he was sixteen years older than her, born in Greece (but that is another story entirely). When they married, she was uprooted from Chicago to the tiny town downstate of Pekin Illinois. She knew no one. Her life was not easy, though of course, she would never admit that. Raised four children while Lou's dad worked very very hard. All went to college, on academic scholarships, Lou's dad only finished second grade, and his mom did not finish high school if I remember correctly. She was also, beautiful. Lou adored and honored her. He called her every sunday night, no matter where he was in the world. He showered her with gifts of all manner. Lovely clothes, jewelry, trips, television sets. Nothing was too good for his mom, as he called her. He always felt it was unfortunate that she could not continue her schooling, that she could not have worked outside the home in some manner. Lou was always so supportive of women working outside the home. Lou's father died many years ago, leaving his mom alone in Pekin, the kids grown. She was stubborn, and would not leave. We tried to get her to move up to Chicago, she wouldn't do it. As the years went on, she began to be forgetful. Living alone can do that to you. At first it was manageable, with lots of note taking and reminder phone calls and visits. Fortunately, Lou's brother lived nearby. It progressed. She would forget to eat and wasn't taking care of herself. A serious bout of dehydration and a fall landed her in the hospital, and from there, into a "home". This happened while we were away on vacation. I won't get into it here, but it was devastating to all of us, but especially to Lou. In the "home" environment, she very quickly slipped into a state of confusion, never to return. It was heartbreaking to see her. Gut wrenching. She died after living there for a few years. It was not as it should have been. It could have been better for her, her last days could have been better. Had we been in town, maybe the outcome would have been different, who knows. Once she was in the "home", she could not be moved. It was done, it was over. Lou never quite recovered from that pain, it haunted him. And then, the brain tumor came. And all that it brought with it. Lou could not remember that his mom was gone. Daily, he would ask, "how's Mom?". Sometimes several times in the same half hour. Before we fully understood the magnitude of destruction the tumor had created, we would answer truthfully, thinking that with repetition, it would stick. We would tell him that mom had passed on. This truth brought shock, tears, and disbelief. He would ask "when did it happen", "how did it happen", "did she suffer", "was I there", etc etc etc. You would think that it had been understood and digested, only to have the question raised again twenty minutes later. This went on for months. We got smart and told Lou that his mom was fine, and that she was down in Pekin. It was much much better to handle it that way. It seemed to satisfy him. He never, ever stopped asking about her. He held her so close, so deeply in his heart and soul. Near the end, he saw her. He told me she was in the room. I know she was. She was waiting for him. It was a comfort to me, to know that he would be reunited with her. That there would no longer be the unending questions, the pain and confusion. I'm thinking about that today. I'm thinking about Lou's deep love for his mother. I'm thinking about the fact that they are together, celebrating this Mother's Day, together at last. No need for material gifts. Eternal love. It's more than enough. Happy Mother's Day.


Blogger The Kitchen said...

I have thought about you today and hope you are having a good Mother's Day. You wrote a lovely tribute to Lou and his mom. They always say that a good man treats his mom well!
Big hug to you dear Cathy on Mother's Day!

4:45 PM  
Blogger Sue said...

Hugs Cathy on Mother's Day! What a lovely tribute to the relationship between Son and Mother. How lucky you are that Lou gave you two wonderful Sons.

9:03 PM  
Anonymous Diane Phillips said...

What a beautiful message, Cathy, and one that Lou would have been so touched to read. Your respect for your mother-in-law comes through so clearly. I hadn't realized that Lou had had a visit from her as things were progressing. This is so very common. I can't tell you how many similar things I have heard. And yes, it is comforting to imagine that they don't merely slip from us or fall into something or disappear, but are instead taken by the hand of someone else they also love, never alone, loved both here and there, only stepping across a threshold, just one room away.

I wish he were in the same room, though. It would have been nice to watch your romantic movie with his shoulder next to yours. Maybe someday you will be able to be touched by a movie like that but in a way that is far less painful, and more a memory of all the love you were blessed with, all that magic.

My family and I were in Chicago at the end of March, and you have no idea how much it was killing me not to call you, probably only several streets away. We spent one night in the city, and it was the five of us. It wouldn't have worked well, unfortunately, but how MUCH I wanted to meet you for breakfast or after dinner somewhere, ditching my crew so that we could meet. "Someday" for that too, I hope.

Happy belated Mother's Day to you. I'm reminded of your messages about knowing when to "step back" as a mom---looking the other way when it was cigar time. ; ) You've done a lot of good in your life, you know that?

9:15 PM  

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