Mom, August 2014, on our most recent Mother/Daughter trip
I never thought of Mom as “elderly,” until now.
Recently, reality sucker-punched me hard in the form of sheer terror and helplessness.
Mom and I are two peas in one pod, so to speak. We are best friends.
Every year we take a mother and daughter trip. Mostly we shop and giggle at the silliest things, just like little girls. Once, at Walmart, we each bought a massive amount of Charmin. It was on sale, plus we had coupons.
Looking back, I guess we did go a little overboard.
Anyway, while we waited in the checkout line, I started laughing. When Mom ask what was funny, I said, “Look at what we’re buying.” She never missed a beat, looked in her cart, and said, “If anybody asks, let’s tell them we’re having a prune eating contest.”
We looked at each other and laughed, hysterically, without a care in the world.
To this day, that memory still makes me smile.
When we travel now, I look for destinations that afford the easiest access for Mom. I seek lodging with handicap assessable features, and I always let Mom out at the front door before I park. I hold her hand when we walk, and I embrace her arm when she steps onto the sidewalk. I am vigilant when it comes to her health and her safety, a mother overseeing her child.
But recently, I became careless and failed her.
Mom and I have ridden the mall escalator many times. No problem.
She always wants me to “go first,” insisting that she’s right behind me.
I never question her, because she’s Mom.
I go first, as instructed.
But on a recent shopping trip, everything changed.
I got on the escalator and was several steps above her. When I looked back to check on Mom, she stood watching the steps. She took her time, waited for the right moment to step on.
Finally, she made her move.
Everything that happened next happened literally in s-l-o-w motion.
I watched as Mom stepped on too soon. Her feet straddled two flat steps; she stood on the crack between the two steps.
As the steps rose to form another step, her feet were three-fourths on one step while the remaining quarter hung off the back.
I watched as she inched her feet backward. Had she just stepped forward a little more, her feet would have been firmly placed on a whole step.
She became confused.
I saw it on her face, trying to figure out what to do.
We are now over halfway up the escalator.
Then it happened.
I screamed, “Mom!”
And ran down the moving steps.
She inched her way off the step, dropped to the step below, and fell backward.
I heard her head hit.
I screamed, again.
Somewhere in the distance, I heard someone yell,”Shut down the escalator!”
When I reached her, I fell to my knees, escalator still moving, and
cupped her head in my hands.
Lightening fear ran through me, but I managed to remain calm.
The escalator jerked and stopped, and three angels stood around us:
One man and two women.
The man lifted Mom upright as the two women stood on each side of her.
I walked behind them, and together, we walked Mom to the top.
The department store manager and another store employee sat Mom in a chair.
I looked for the man and the two women who came to our rescue, but they were nowhere to be found.
I never saw them again.
EMS arrived and thought it best to transport Mom to the ER, where she could be better evaluated.
During our time in the ER, Mom complained because our shopping trip had been interrupted.
I assured her we would schedule another shopping day.
Miraculously, her CT scan showed no sign of head trauma.
I’m still in awe that the only “real” injury Mom received was a scrape to her ankle and a small cut on her elbow. Her head never bled, but only revealed a large red goose egg.
She received a tetanus shot and instructions on what to do should headaches, blurred vision, etc. occur.
She was released, and we left.
Never have I felt so helpless.
Never have I felt so heartbroken.
Never have I felt so ashamed.
Never have I felt so GUILTY!
The guilt that haunted me later that evening, and even now, still burns red hot inside.
What if Mom’s fall killed her?
It was possible.
I heard her head hit, after all!
What if she broke her back?
It was possible.
Instead, Mom received only a “bump” on her head, as she calls it.
Since this horrible accident, I vow that she will never again ride another escalator.
From now on we are taking the elevator, together. Side by side.
I am so grateful and blessed beyond any words that I can pen to paper for the help of the three strangers, and for God’s grace.
I think about the three who rescued and aided my mom.
I wish I knew who they are, where they are.
I may never know, but God certainly does.
My mother is alive and well.
Thank you for your grace, during my time of distress.
Thank you for keeping me calm in what could have been my darkest hour.
I look at my mother and see her in a whole new light.
I will cherish, even now more than ever, our time together.
Forgive me for not being more attentive to her and to her needs.
Forgive my complacency, my assumption that she is the strong person that she was just a few short years ago.
Lead me whenever I lead her.
But, mostly, forgive me for allowing her pain and suffering.
Forgive me because I am unable to forgive myself.