My Mother’s Death

Yesterday at work, I started rehearsing the events which led to my mother’s death.

My mother died of leukemia on the same date that Colonel Harland Sanders, Kentucky Fried Chicken, died, December 16th, 1980.  He too died of leukemia.

Vivian Inez “Mick/Mickey” Morton Gibson was my mother.  I called her “mom”.

Mickey worked for most of her adult life as a Civil Service Secretary, mostly aboard Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base, but also at the Naval Hospital at Portsmouth, VA.  She worked in the 1960s at Building 66, the Naval Medical Field Research Laboratory at Camp Lejeune.  Growing up in Eastern North Carolina in the 1960s, 70s, 80s Lejeune was never pronounced as “le jurne” as it is today.  It was “Lay Jewn.”

I think she was last stationed at the Camp Lejeune Naval Hospital at the time she was first diagnosed with leukemia.  She had begun to feel tired, and for someone that loved working outdoors, this was a major obstacle in her life.  She did have a Singer Zig-Zag Sewing Machine, with the attachments, and had used McCalls, Simplicity, etc. patterns to make most of her work clothing.

She visited her doctor, Dr. Adnan Taj-Eldin, who is still a practicing physician in Onslow County, Jacksonville, NC and the next day I noticed a bruise on her arm which was obviously caused by a hand.  When I asked her about the bruise, she said that Dr. Eldin had squeezed her arm as a test the day before.  I guess this was the result of the early stages of Leukemia.


I will skip some of the process here to get to what I rehearsed for myself, yesterday.


*Not sure where this needs to go, but near the end of her death, this last time in the hospital, mom weighed only 84 lbs.  She was basically taut skin stretched across a skeleton.  I recall that she had attempted to get out of her hospital bed to go to the bathroom and had fallen.  I wasn’t there when she did this.  She was apologetic about the fall.  She didn’t realize that her body had failed to the point it had.

I spent the last night sleeping in my mom’s hospital room in a high backed chair in a corner of the room.  I think this was on the 4th floor of Onslow County Memorial Hospital.  Probably Room 401.  The room was located directly across from the Nurses’ Station, and I think the logic was to put the most ill patients closest to this location.

My cousin, more like an aunt to me, because of her age, Yvonne deLagneau, had come up from Florida to be with my mother during the last stages of mom’s illness.  But, Yvonne had to return to Miami to her work, and had left just a couple of days before mom’s death.

My mother had a sharp mind up until a few days before her death, and the strong “end of life” drugs that she had been given to alleviate much of her pain, had taken over and put her into an almost comatose state.  The last night of her life, she had labored, sporadic breathing and her eyes were rolled back in her head so that only the whites of her eyes were visible with her partially opened eyelids.

I slept in the chair and was awakened during the early morning when nurses came in to test my mom’s blood pressure and breathing.  I think I recall one of the nurses saying to another nurse that one of the readings of blood pressure was 15… and I understood that 15 for either systolic or diastolic (sp?) was an extremely low unit.

About 8 am on December 16, 1980, I was awake listening to my mom’s irregular breathing as the early morning light began to light the darkened room through its single window.  *The window looked out onto Western Boulevard and across the road was the almost vacant lot for Jacksonville Mall.  The steel girder structure  was growing from the concrete foundation, but I seem to recall a bare light bulb or two hanging from the structure and steam coming off the concrete.  Tuesday, December 16th, 1980 proved to be a bright, but cold, sunny day.

I got up from my chair and walked around to my mother, hesitated, but eventually touched her hand.  Her pupils rolled back to face me, but just briefly, and there was no sign of recognition in her eyes.  No sign of love for her son, Billie.  The pupils rolled back to show just whites again and her labored breathing continued, but with longer periods between her lips sucking in oxygen.

I moved to a chair next to her bed and between the window and the bed.

Finally her breathing stopped.  I waited intentionally, which seemed like minutes, but might not have been any more than a minute.  I knew that they, her doctor, Taj-Eldin, had put a “no code” on my mother.  That meant that if she stopped breathing, the nurses or doctors were not to attempt to revive her.  But, I too wanted to make sure that she did not return to the pain that she had just left.  I heard air escaping from her unmoving lungs, as if it were water flowing over rocks.  I later learned that this was called the “death gurgles”.  Air flowing upward and out of the lifeless body.

I rose from my chair and walked around the end of the bed and opened the door and walked across to the Nurses’ Station.  I recall that it was darkly lit and there was a single nurse standing behind the counter.

The nurse looked up at me and I said to her, “Could you please take a look at my mother.” *There was that other monitor, my other voice, that has always been with me, and it said to me at that time, “You know she’s dead.”  But there was no hint of that awareness in my voice, as I made the request to the nurse.  The nurse was polite and said that she would look, and she came around the counter and went into my mother’s room, the door closing behind her.  I continued to stand by the station.

A minute or so later, the door opened and the nurse, with a worried look upon her face, came out.  She asked if I would follow her around the corner to a waiting area near the elevator.  I followed her, and I knew she was trying to be protective, and probably it was not her duty or obligation to let me know that mom was dead.

I don’t recall if I called Mary Ann or if she arrived at the hospital on her daily routine.

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Small Business

My definition of “small business” is the means by which accumulated wealth passes from the relatively poor back into the hands of the wealthy.  Twenty percent of small businesses fail their first year, and 50% of small businesses fail by their 5th year.

I realize that all small businesses are not just goods, or just services, but my imaginings are that the new entrepreneur has finally “scrimped and saved” what he or she thinks will allow them to start a successful small business.  They purchase items for sale, or buy equipment to help provide a service…  This is where the accumulated wealth passes back to the rich, who have an inventory of items for sale, and it doesn’t matter if the small business fails or not, the rich have made their profit.

If the small business fails, the owner is now left to sell their goods or equipment at an extreme discount… liquidate.  They are now returning to their previous poor state, and can go back to work for the rich, and may even have incurred additional debt to be repaid to a bank or other lending institution.

I want a girl with a short skirt…

I was watching TV, very early morning a few weeks ago and came across this song/video.  As I watched it, I said to myself, “How could we not love you.”  It’s not that she had a great body, Diana Rigg.  She had a good face, and personality, and the writing and acting for her character was winning.   Could you think of a better role model for young girls, than the character, Emma Peel?  Strong mind,… like a diamond, judo flip you if you look at her cross-eyed… She was STEM trained before it was fashionable and an equal to John Steed.

Compare Foods – Small Onions

herdez-salsa-ranchera-mediumIt looks like Herdez is discontinuing the Hot Salsa Ranchera and only has the Medium version.  I bought a can of the medium, and haven’t tried it yet… but saw something I wrote previously that says the medium is still plenty hot.

cipollottiCompare Foods had a couple of varieties of small onions for $2.99 a pound.  There were white and copper colored pearl 2006onions and an onion that looked like Cipollini.  I mixed them together since they were all the same price.20131214-creamed-pearl-onion-recipe-1

I was frying some boneless pork chops on the stove top, with a little Agave nectar and a little mango powder.  *I had gotten the mango-powderAmchur powder at the Indian Market in Apex, NC.  The powder has a hint of citrus, although I don’t think of a mango being a citrus fruit.

I put a mixture of some of the small onions in my microwave-onion-cookermicrowave onion cooker and set it for about a minute and a half.  I took the pork chops out of the pan and natures-seasons-seasoning-blend-seven-point-five-ounce-bottleadded some sliced okra (no breading) and a little olive oil to cook them.  Natures Seasoning (Mary Ann’s & Aunt Sis’s contribution) while frying the okra.

After the okra were done, I took the onions out of the microwave and added them to the pan.  Just a few minutes to give them a little color and more flavor.

I had some Jewish Rye Bread, so I made a sandwich of some of the pork chops and some mayo.  The pork was good!  The okra were good!  The little onions were good!  *I forgot to mention that I didn’t peel the onions, which provided them with a rustic quality.  You can pull off some of the onion husk easily, but sucking the sweet onion from the husk is also a pleasure.

Brunswick Stew

scnb-bbqI think I got the hankering for Brunswick Stew because Chasson’s Grandsons offered it on their buffet last week.  I had looked online as to what went into BS, and I recall that my dad had a very good BS recipe.  I had it, but don’t know if I still do.

On Saturday, I was returning from a trip to Raleigh and coming back through Fuquay-Varina (which I normally come through on the way up, but not on the way back), and stopped to eat at the Smithfield’s Chicken & Barbecue.

succotashI ordered a Combo Dark Platter, which includes both BBQ and fried chicken (dark meat).  I didn’t intend to order the BBQ, but after I got it, I began to think that I could save the BBQ and make some Brunswick Stew when I got home.

fire roasted tomatoesI stopped at the Food Lion in Lillington and bought a can of succotash (tomatoes, corn and green lima beans).  * I ended up not being happy with the cornamount of corn and beans and now think that I will try this again but buy small individual cans of tomatoes, corn and lima beans.

green-limasThe flavor was good and I added potato, carrot and onion to the succotash and mixed in the BBQ. worcestershire-sauce-lea&perrins Surprisingly, the amount of BBQ was more than enough and I ended up with two helpings of Brunswick Stew.  *I might like chicken instead of pork better.

The recipe I used called for Worstershire Sauce, barbecue sauce and some hot sauce.  I didn’t have any barbecue sauce so I used a little catchup.

 

 

Pork Chops-n-Alfredo Sauce

bertolli-alfredo-sauce-jarI had some pork chops in the refrigerator and knew I needed to cook them before they spoiled.  I didn’t want to go the hot chipotle “Salsa Ranchera” route that I normally take, and I noted that I had an opened jar of Bertolli Alfredo Sauce.  Mary Ann gave me a couple of jars of this.

The picture of the pork chops in the pan, with the mushrooms isn’t mine, but it looks close enough to give you the idea of what you should be working toward.

I started with some olive Pan-Fried-Pork-Chops-with-Mushroom-Gravy

oil in the pan.  I also added some “old” truffle oil that I hardly ever use.  I started frying the pork chops and then added some chopped onions.  I added a healthy portion of dried Tarragon, some garlic powder, salt and freshly ground mixed pepper.

The pork chops browned and the onion turned translucent.  I added the Alfredo Sauce and strired.

In my first pan, I added some sliced, on the bias, carrots and almost immediately cut the heat.  This left the carrots still crunchy, which was a welcome addition to the end result.

I took a couple of pork chops, leaving one in the pan, and went to watch TV.  The flavor was carrots-biasedexcellent.

I decided to cook the rest of the pork chops in the package and started the process all over again… but, I then had the idea that adding some mushrooms to the mix would probably be good.  The mushrooms were a good idea.  The second batch went into a plastic container and into the fridge.

roasted-balsamic-tomatoesThis morning I awoke a little early and thought about baking some tomatoes in balsamic vinegar.  I actually use the broil setting.  I had about six Roma tomatoes, which I halved, and a few I quartered and arranged them in a small baking dish.  I added some salt & pepper, and then drizzled some dark balsamic vinegar over the lot.  I also added a little Agave Nectar, not much, and some Splenda, for more sweetness.

The mess chars on top and the vinegar reduces to a sweet thickness.  I put these in the fridge also.

 

Capricho de Cabra Goat Cheese

This has become my favorite cheese.  I bought it at Whole Foods in Raleigh several months ago, and have since bought several rounds, even giving some to relatives & friends.  I think it is best served at room temperature, on crackers.  It has a tangy flavor.

marys-gone-crackersI came across the Mary’s Gone Crackers in a Fresh Market and like the Original crackers especially.  The goat cheese and these crackers go well together!

1971 Pontiac Lemans

I don’t have any pictures of the 1971 Pontiac Lemans that my mother bought me as a present for my Senior Year at Swansboro High School.  It was blue with a white textured vinyl top.  It had a 350 hp engine with an automatic transmission.

I drove the car my Senior year, but had to give it up my Freshman year at Carolina.

How undeserving I was.

Sometimes it is the individual pleasing components.

I was just thinking of what I might have for supper tonight, and wasn’t sure if I had any meat thawed.  I really don’t like to freeze meat, because I am always bad about planning ahead to thaw it out so that it will be ready for cooking when I come home at night.

But, then I began to run through the check list of what was already prepared:

  • One final helping of Chorizo, Chickpea & Kale soup (lots of Smoked Paprika in this one)
  • About a pint of home made salsa (fire roasted tomatoes, green bell pepper, cilantro, Vidalia onion, cumin seed, lime juice, agave nectar, Equal, turmeric, salt, ground pepper, hot sauce)
  • I’ve got some home made Thousand Island Dressing, which would go good on some cauliflower & Campari tomatoes.
  • I also bought some more Capricio de Cabra cheese and some sliced Jewish Rye bread.  This cheese is better when it is served at room temperature.

Pastrami Reuben at Home

So, I had such a good experience with Reuben sandwiches during my short vacation, that I bought the fixin’s at Harris Teeter and attempted to make this at home.

I looked online to see what the ingredients were and they are basically as follows:

  • Pastrami
  • Swiss Cheese (Baby)
  • Rye Bread
  • Sauerkraut
  • Thousand Island Dressing
  • Butter or Margarine

 

I bought a cheap can of sauerkraut at HT, got the pastrami & baby swiss from their deli, sliced thin (for sandwiches), and had the baker slice a fresh loaf of rye bread.  Heat a skillet up on the stove top.

Construct the sandwich…  spread the Thousand Island dressing on both of the insides of the rye bread.  Put the cheese on top of one and the sauerkraut on the other.  Place the pastrami on one and fold the other slice on top to make the sandwich.  Then butter the outside of one, or both of the bread slices.  I tried buttering the top slice, while the other was frying in the skillet, and buttering both before placing one side in the skillet.  *Your preference as to how you do this.  You need a wide spatula in order to turn the sandwich over once one side has heated through.

I think the Thousand Island Dressing “turns” the sauerkraut, as a little sugar/sweetner turns vinegar.  The two go good together.

My first attempt was a wonderful success!  I forgot to add one of the chilled dill pickles that I had also purchased during my first attempt.  *I make a messy sandwich, but delicious.  I thought of making french fries, but decided against that, but later made some coleslaw (cabbage, carrot, onion, mayo, mustard, celery seed, ground pepper, salt, sweetner, dry tarragon) that was a good alternative.  I wouldn’t have thought of the coleslaw, but when I couldn’t get fries at Groucho’s in Florence and they had coleslaw, it was a better option than fries… although, if I were out at a restaurant, I would probably order fries several times, rather than slaw.