My mom was the kind of person who didn't like to go to the doctor.
She hardly ever got sick, so it never seemed to matter.
Except when she really was sick. Really sick. But she brushed it aside as nothing because she didn't want to go to the doctor.
Months later, even she couldn't ignore her pain anymore, and she was admitted to the hospital. The doctors there discovered she had a massive tumor blocking the duct to her gall bladder. The cancer had spread throughout her body, causing other complications, including blood clots.
I imagine by that time her pain was excruciating. She was put on a pretty high dose of pain meds. Treatment for the cancer was discussed, but it was so far advanced there wasn't much they could do.
I think by that time Mom knew her life was nearing its end.
I spent as much time with her in the hospital as I could, and in the beginning, when she was coherent, we talked about everything. One day we got on the topic of my kids, and how sometimes I just had a hard time being nice and not yelling when they were driving me crazy.
"You should make a poster," Mom told me, "that says 'Kindness begins with me.' And put it somewhere where you see it all the time."
She went on to tell me that "Kindness begins with me" had become her motto in the hospital, that she tried to remind herself of it when dealing with the nurses and doctors constantly bombarding her, running tests, taking blood, giving medication.
Those words are a testament to how amazing my mother is. There in that hospital bed, during her last days on earth, her broken body wracked with pain, she thought of other people. Not herself. One might say she had every right to rage at the nurses if she wanted to. But she didn't. She considered their feelings. She made them laugh. She was kind to her very last moments.
I haven't made that poster yet, but when I feel my patience thinning, the words "kindness begins with me" resound in my mind.
I have a long way to go, but, someday, I hope to be just like my mom.
The Brown-Eyed Girl