Go Ask Mom

Go Ask Mom

Amanda Lamb: Invisible

Posted May 27, 2012

The other day, my mother said sometimes she feels "invisible" when people are talking about her brain cancer. They talk around her, about her, but not to her. Inside, she is screaming: "Hey, I'm still alive. I'm right here. Talk to me."

Even with a brain tumor, my mother is still the smartest person in our house. Because her vision is now poor, she spends most of her days listening to CNN. She can tell you just about anything about the economy or foreign affairs. She asked me yesterday what I thought of the new French president, she named a road in China for my daughter who was working on a school project, and she still routinely spells words for me when I am writing and need help. Madeline Lamb, Amanda Lamb's mother

So, for people to talk around her is the biggest insult imaginable. Her body may have failed her, but her brain is still working just fine for the most part. I try not to allow this invisibility to happen. I try to steer the conversation back towards her when possible, to ask her what she wants. She has abdicated so many decisions to me in the past few week about her medical care, her business, her home, her finances that sometimes even I forget what she really needs is to be engaged and considered as having valuable insight.

I can't pretend to know how she feels. Having a terminal illness is a lonely road even when you are surrounded by loving family and friends. But I can try and respect her and honor her as the brilliant woman she is and has always been.

I was buying a reclining lift chair for her the other day and called her from the store to give her options. One was more plush, and, thus, more expensive.

"Mom, what do you think?"

"You, decide. Whatever you think," she said wearily.

I sat in both and reported over the phone to her how they felt. Both were comfortable, but one a little softer than the other.

"I like comfort," she said wryly. "You know that. It's hard for me to get comfortable when I can't move."

"OK, boss, then it is the plush one. You're driving the train."

Amanda is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including three on mothering. Find her here on Mondays. Follow her mother's story daily on her CaringBridge site.



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  • piknowles4 May 28, 2012

    I have walked in your shoes and you are to be commended for the way you understand your mother's needs. Peace.

  • awheeless May 27, 2012

    I love reading your post you sre such a wonderful and loving hard seeing a parent go through any type of illness I lost my Mom in July at the age of 89....I hope your Mom enjoys her new recliner and she will find comfort as time goes on.