While this blog is all about my adventures in Italy, today I make an exception.
Today marks the 13th anniversary of the kidney transplant.
I gave one of my kidneys to my mother on March 25, 2003 and every year since, I celebrate the anniversary with a slice of cheesecake and a glass of Prosecco.
Mom and I celebrated in our own way in 2003 and 2004 by going to Italy, of course. The joy she felt, the freedom of not having tubes coming out of her that were attached to machines that would do the work that her kidneys could not, was boundless.
We obviously enjoyed Italy and made the most of everywhere else we went. But even if she were in Cincinnati and I were in New York, on March 25 we celebrated. I would invite colleagues to join me, usually in a conference room, and we’d get Mom on speaker. Those were fun times. “I’ve never been invited to a kidney donation celebration before,” my friend David said.
Although I’m about to mark the fifth anniversary of my mom’s death, I continue to celebrate kidney day. I mean, come on, I need at least one day a year to eat cheesecake.
This year however, I started thinking about all the other aches and pains that my mom suffered daily. Not from the kidney, mind you. That thing was solid!
Pain in her legs, in her back, myriad digestive tract issues seemed to dominate those later years. It seemed there was always a doctor’s appointment to get to, another checkup for this or that. And she had difficulty sitting in a chair for a long time, without being surrounded by three pillows to cushion joints. She’d usually end up on the couch.
God, what she put up with. The pills, the pain, the pain pills, and yet, she was ready to go do something every morning. We had a good time together, whatever we did. In spite of all of that difficulty, she came to visit in New York for a week. She brought her wheelchair and I pushed her around the streets of Manhattan for a few days. Granted, loading that thing in and out of taxis was annoying, but so what.
I will always treasure those trips to Italy the most. Everything else – Christmases, shopping, weekends away – comes in second.
Now I’m dealing with a few health issues of my own; nothing serious and everything has solutions. And I just started thinking about how she got through her days. How in the world did she get through the days? I miss her every day and the void is so much more present for me when I want to call her and talk about all of this stuff. Moms get very smart as we get older. I am a true believer in this.
So I struggled a bit in the past week, putting up with frayed nerves, moods all over the place and crappy headaches. And then, when I took a deep breath and the ruckus settled down, I laughed. I am not going through an iota of what my mom went through. I’ve got my health. I’ve got everything I need (including a new playlist on my iPod with songs from 10 years ago that remind me of really great times with friends from Astoria. Yeah!)
Today is March 25, 2016, 13 years after the kidney transplant. This is a day for me to celebrate but I also raise a glass to the thousands of other people who are organ donors.
I’m glad my mom had those dialysis-free years.
“Thank you again for my new life,” she wrote to me many times.