Guest Contributor, Wendy Vreeken Banham

A Daughter’s Priorities – by Wendy

Image: Mark Winwood (c) Dorling Kindersley

Winter gardening (or, a daughter’s priorities)

I’ve been meaning to write a column about winter gardening for weeks now, but when I sit in front of the blank page, all my brain is full of are these four words:  My Mother has cancer.  So, I admit it, this isn’t a column about gardening at all.

My Mom’s foot starting swelling back in June.  Soon afterwards her whole leg started filling up, then the other foot, and the other leg, and finally, her abdomen.  There was a seemingly endless parade of medical appointments, and eventually, a referral to an internal medicine specialist.   He told us a CT scan would reveal the answers.  When we received our date for the scan, it was a very long two months away.

By then my Mom had already lost her quality of life.  She could no longer go to her regular exercise classes with her beloved girls. She could barely get her feet into oversized running shoes.  Only one pair of pants would fit over her oversized legs, belly and bottom.  She was tired.  Doing anything was an effort.  My normally active, healthy 83-year-old Mom had finally turned into an old lady, relying on her three children and their partners, and her huge circle of loving friends and neighbours for virtually everything.

Eventually I took my Mom for her scan.  We were to wait two weeks for the results.  Two weeks!  What happened instead was that we ended up in the ER after an episode of severe pain just a few days later.

I will never forget when the extremely kind and gentle ER doctor pulled the current around us and said, “unfortunately I have some bad news.”  I grabbed my Mama’s hand and held on tight.

How her life and ours has changed in four short weeks.  She has already had her first round of chemo.  There is a dizzying array of hospital visits, for blood work, chemo and visits with the Oncologist.  She is also getting house visits from a nurse, a physiotherapist, and a very kind and respectful woman who helps her have a shower.  On the chemo days, there are drugs.  Lots of drugs.  And many boring hours to fill.  But we’re told her Lymphoma is very treatable, and by the end of treatment she should have her quality of life back.  I sure hope so.

Meanwhile, I never got around to writing about the bulbs I like to plant, much less actually planting them.  I never got to tell you about my favourites.  The ones that have worked out, and the ones that, well, not so much.  My bulb garden is taking the winter off.

Instead of tending my garden, I am tending my Mother.  We all are, and we hope that she flourishes.

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  • Reply julie lastofsky December 12, 2016 at 10:16 am

    Your article is very touching Wendy. I’ve walked in your shoes, with my mom. It’s a difficult path to walk with someone you love very much, but strength in family and love will get you all through this. Sending good wishes for your mom’s speedy recovery 🙂

  • Reply Marcia Elmes December 12, 2016 at 8:39 pm

    Wendy, what a beautiful column written straight from the heart. Your mom is so lucky to have you in her corner. Conversely, you are so lucky to have a mom like her. Hang in there girls. You’re doing everything right for each other.

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