Another Mother’s Day is upon us. As each year comes round, it seems that I think about my mother more and more. My mom passed away on June 27, 2007. She suffered a fractured pelvis from which she didn’t fully recover. Afterward, she lived with ongoing pain and contracted frequent urinary tract infections (UTIs).
Her immune system became weakened, she developed sepsis from the UTIs, and she died from heart failure. Her death was unexpected and left me mentally disheveled.
Amalia Jozefa Koziol was a caring person. I was the youngest of six children, and as the baby of the family, I received more attention than the others. My eldest sibling and I had a significant age gap, and my next sibling is 11 years older than me.
My mother was an excellent cook, specializing in dishes from her native Poland. Her pierogi were tasty, and the dough and filling were a perfect match. She made the best stuffed cabbage I’ve ever had; when you sliced through the roll, the filling was so tender it collapsed. When I traveled back and forth to school, my mother would fill up two coolers with food. My roommates couldn’t believe the delicious dishes that I would bring back with me.
When I contracted idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), my mother had been gone for seven years. But she was still one of the first people that came into my mind. She was by my bedside during two previous hospitalizations. One was for a hip replacement in 2004, and the other was when I was admitted for 11 days in 2005 with pneumonia. During that hospitalization, my fever spiked at 105.8 degrees. When she couldn’t get to the hospital when temperatures dropped below 20 degrees for a couple of days, she would call me and cry on the phone.
I’ve often wondered as I went through the suffering of my IPF diagnosis and my subsequent lung transplant how she would have reacted. I know that she would have been brokenhearted to see me suffer. My thoughts were bittersweet; on the one hand, I wouldn’t want my mother to see me in that condition, but on the other, I wished she was there by my side. As an adult, I was comforted by her being with me at the hospital. And I regret that I didn’t tell her that then.
I know my mother would have been overjoyed at my marriage. She knew Rebecca as my friend. We met at work in 2001 and stayed in touch. Following my mother’s death, she flew down to Houston to comfort me. We got married in 2009. My mother used to glow when she spoke of Rebecca as she pronounced her name in her strong Polish accent. I can hear her rolling her Rs as I type this column. Rebecca was on her list of people to call if she couldn’t locate me as I sometimes went missing in action for a couple of days.
I have regrets as I look back, but I can’t change it now. Could I have been a better son? Of course, I could have done some things differently. I know I didn’t tell her that I loved her as much as she needed to hear it. Happy Mother’s Day, Ma. I love you! You are always with me, and I can still feel your love.
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