In Her Own Words

2

If you are reading this then you know that I am no longer here and I want to tell you something about myself in order to help those left behind.

I lived in the Bronx all of my life and I think and hope I made a difference in the lives of my family, friends and coworkers. I lived a great life and for the most part filled with joy, happiness and hopefully love. But, when I became ill in 1993 things changed drastically for me not only at home but at work too. I worked in a place that had chemicals in it as they did photo engraving. I guess the smell of the chemicals; the ink and more must have taken its toll on my lungs and on others too.

One morning while sitting at my desk my co-worker came into the office stepped off the elevator and keeled over. She died on the spot. They said she had a massive heart attack and the rest was kept silent. We were best friends as work and often socialized too. There was a great void in my life when she died. Things are many other things that changed too. I began to have difficulty breathing and developed clots in my lungs causing me to spend a great deal of time in ICU in the hospital. After many bouts with clots I wound up going to UCSD in California for a major operation to correct this problem but not before the President of this company fired me for being ill too often and this was before I diagnosed with this serious illness.

He claimed that there was no longer a need for my position and that they were downsizing. In reality, had I bothered to fight him and I should have, it was my age at the time and the fact that he wanted younger people working for him. It did not matter that the Vice President felt I was invaluable and that I was learning the new computer system. They had hired someone flashier and younger and it was out with the old and in with the new or younger.

When I left the company that is when things really took a downhill dive. Who is going to hire someone in his or her late 60’s to work and I really could not afford not to do something. I never really wanted to depend on my children for support and my husband passed away in 1987 and his insurance policy was one month short of coming due or paying any real money to help with my support. I wanted to someone to tell my story and to remind everyone to make sure that you tell someone you love that you care before it is too late.

What often happens is when a family member becomes ill, many times they are left out to dry, put on a back shelf and no longer considered a vibrant member of the community or family any more. My children never forget me nor do some my nieces but many have. My neighbors and good friends never come to visit me but ask my daughter how I am doing instead. I have one niece who can’t stand to see me less than who she thinks I should be. Well, I am still who I am not as active but quite aware of what I am doing and much more.

After coming home for California in March of 1994, unemployed and looking for a job thinks began to settle down but my children had to add to my income, which was meager. I became active in many organizations, ran the meetings, got ads for the journals, did promotions for them and much more. Still quite the force I was and doing a job although not getting paid for it but I did not care.

Feeling my old self in a few months I was able to resume driving to meetings, going to luncheons and enjoying my life once more. But, then things do not always continue as planned and in 2003 in August my life would change forever and my entire world would come crashing down. I never saw it coming yet I knew something odd was happening to me and I did not know why but I did sort of know what.

I started forgetting things like where I was going, directions to places that I had been before, my driving skills were totally off and my sense of direction worse. I started taking my medications more than once a day because I had forgotten that I had taken it at all. I forgot to get my bloods done because I did not remember not having them done and as a result I overdoses on Coumadin and caused a bleed out in my left shoulder and that was the beginning of the end.

I woke up on morning and called my sister, Tova to come down to my apartment and told her to use her key. I could not move. My back was aching and my sides hurt too. I could not breathe very well and felt like I was going to pass out from the pain. I told her to call and ambulance. She then called my daughter to come down too. She never told her why. She was on her way to a meeting and I did not want her to have to stop her life for me. But, once again she did and so did my other daughter too. Not only that, she went in the ambulance and even convinced them to get a whole team of doctors and nurses to stand by and be ready for me when I arrived and they were. We got there and she went into the ER with me and did not want to leave my side even for one minute.

They did every test in the book and unfortunately came back with the wrong diagnosis and transferred me to another hospital. On the way to the other hospital something happened and they had to put in a breathing tube because they thought I was fading away. But, never count me down and out. I was okay for a while but the next morning the heart surgeon called my daughter and asked for permission to operate over the phone and she gave it. But, I know her and she made it to the hospital in due time to talk to him and see me way before the surgery.

However, what I never found out because no one wanted me to know is that I died twice during the surgery, too much anesthesia and as a result when I came home several weeks later I became forgetting more things just thinking it was a result of the surgery and I needed time to recuperate. I did for a while but I almost did it again but my daughter took over giving me and monitoring my medications and I spent the next few months in and out of the hospital. When things finally settled down I thought I would resume driving and when I took my daughter to the doctor I had a rude awakening driving home.

I drove down a one-way street, passed several red lights and made a U turn that could have really gotten us both killed. But, what was worse I never understood the fuss the three officers made when they surrounded the car with three police cars. You would have thought it was a scene from America’s most wanted Senior Citizen. Asked why I was not wearing a seatbelt I proceeded to show them my scar on my chest and explained I had two surgeries and the best annoyed my scar. I started to searching for the documents needed to prove I was me, my insurance cards and more but since I kept them in chronological order from the first day I ever drove or got a car this would take a while and it did. Well, after several minutes namely about 45 my daughter convinced them she would make sure I drove home and the car would stay parked. But, that was not going to happen.

I never got a ticket, just a warning. I drove home, parked and called my sister to go shopping and we did. The next day I could not find my car keys because my daughters thought it was time to take them away and sell the car which they did not until the following year. So, sad. I was a good driver until I was not.

But, my point is from there on the rest was downhill. My mind took a downward spiral and I began spending too much time in the hospital with nurses who could care less and doctors who were inept. My daughter became my advocate and my voice and would not let anything or anyone do a thing to me without her permission. I knew what was happening and my mind was not that poor that I was not able to express myself when I had to but having her do most of the work was better and they hospital, nurses and doctors learned what a force she was and she even got me Medicaid services and much more.

For four years she and my other daughter paid thousands a week to keep me at home and not in a nursing home. When an aide left me on the street to shop for her own daughter in the blazing heat on August 13, 2005, my daughter went after the homecare agency for more Medicaid hours and won. Two months later she got the rest and made sure I had the full 24 hours split shift and four home health aides and fought tooth and nail for years to make sure that the care stayed in place. But, more important, she was there everyday to care for me, monitor the aides and give me my meds and make sure I remained and I did remain at home.

Families become distant when someone is ill. They find excuses to never visit, too much to do at work and never really want to face what might and could happen to them when they get older. Before it is too late visit that person you care about, find out about homecare services, monitor them and I kept my promise after visiting over twenty facilities to keep my mom home with the home health aides that loves and cared for her and miss her as much as I do. I know that because since my death, they call my daughter all the time and come to see her too.

Here is the poem my daughter Fran wrote:

It’s Never Too Late
Before it’s too late let them know how you feel
Before it’s too late say what you think and make it real
Don’t say I will do this tomorrow instead of today
Call the person even go out of your way

When people are not in your line of sight you tend to forget
All the things they did for you and you will soon regret
Not calling or telling them how much you care and more
Life is unexpected and you never know what is in store

We all take the time to pay our respects when it’s too late
You never ask the family to change that fateful date
You work and you vacation and never look to see
How much a phone from you to this loved one would be

Something they would cherish and look forward to and more
Hoping to you find the time to talk and stay for sure
But, there is always an excuse never to get there you know
Because everyone has places they’d rather be or go

Before it’s too late you need to make sure you say
How much this person means to you each and every day
But, you might not get the chance and how sad it would be
Not only for the person but more for you just wait and see

Saying I wish I had spent some time with my mom or dad is of no use at all
It is too late for that and you know the end result was your call
So, before it is too late make sure you come to see
The one person that did everything not just for you but also for me.

Dear Marcia:
My sister my best friend you will never be far
Just look up in the sky and  you will be the brightest star
Shining upon all of us and guiding our way
Controlling the weather making sure the sun shines on us each day

Your strength and your wisdom will remain inside of all of us you know
Whenever a problem arises will ask ourselves what would Marcia say to do
Guiding us in the right direction so true
Remaining in our hearts we will always love you

I’m still here: Hear My voice: I Know where you are?
I am still here never forget me
I am in your hearts and will always be
Close by when you are lonely to guide you each day
Never forget I will always show you the way

I am your mother, your sister, your grandmother, aunt and so much more
I had a great life because of all of you and you have much more in store
You are my family, friends and loved ones so true
Never forget I will always be here for you

Your faces will be etched in my mind so clear
My son, daughter, and grandchildren you are so dear
My husband, my sister, brother and family I have to say
Loved me more than life in each and every way

The doctors and staff who I worked closely with each day
Remember to run the office in my calm, cool and collected way
You are my second family and I know you will make me proud
When things get out of hand and the office has a rowdy crowd

Just think about what I would do and never forget this
I will be there to guide you whenever things go amiss
I loved coming to work I thrived on each challenge that came through the door
Remember that I will be watching you and guiding you and more

Jamie and Jason rest assure that I love you so much
My life would not have been fulfilled with out your loving touch
To everyone here what I will say is so true
Marcia Wallach will always be watching over you.

I wanted to share this with everyone.
Fran Lewis and my mom who just passed whose voice you hear: Ruth

2 Comments
  1. Jack Eason says

    Gabina, a touching tale indeed, and so very true. More and more of us in our seventh decade find ourselves forgotten, unwanted, treated as if we don’t exist. It is a sad commentary of the times we live in. Thank you for posting this. 🙂

  2. Frances Ayers says

    We recently lost our 72 year old neigbor to a fire.She suffered from polio and other ailments.We stepped in an acted as surrogate family,as her own family lived abroard and out on Long Island.Hardly anyone came to see her,and it was a very sad situation.This article hit home! Thanks for sharing this

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