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My mother did not deserve to die. She was a wonderful woman. Please, let me tell you a little about her before I tell you of her death. Please.

My mom was musical. She could play the piano, the organ and the accordion. If she heard a song, she could play it. And she was good at drawing and such. She had four kids. Oddly enough, all of us were artistic, just like her. Actually, I'm quite a bit better than her on that score, but I think that is only because she nurtured me, she didn't think it was bad for a boy to draw and paint, and she encouraged me, always.

I miss her, so much.

And she was beautiful. So beautiful. Blue eyes, thick, brown hair. A killer smile. But almost no hair from the neck down (judging by what I ever saw). She never shaved her legs or underarms, because there was no hair there. I kinda inherited that from her, although I have a few stray hairs in my armpits (and a bit more where I cannot mention). After my accident, they did not have to shave my leg to operate on it. Smooth as a baby's butt.

My mom could fix almost anything, She really could. And she taught us that we could do anything, I know this sounds silly, but she did. She taught us by example, the best way of all. Her children, all of us, believed that we could do things. Not bad, for a woman who was married at age sixteen. She just dug right in and did things, amazing things. She could sew, like nobody I ever saw. She cut hair. No, she styled hair. Every guy in our family had their hair cut by her. Not just her two sons, her husband, her father, her father-in-law, her nephews, her brother and brothers-in-law, family friends... well, you get the idea. She could wallpaper like a pro. She canned vegetables from the garden. She was a waitress, most of her life. She started out as a skating car hop. She ended up in a gourmet restaurant as one of their most valued employees. How does that happen? She did catering for them and had to cook the food on site. She learned how to do that. She could mix any drink that you could name. She did all that. And she cleaned up afterward.

Almost everything my Mom did was self-taught.

She should still be alive. But she is not, because she did not have access to healthcare. If she did, she would still be here. She would not even be that old. Hell, both of her parents lived into their nineties. Her father was ninety-five when he died. Her mother was ninety-one. It is a terrible thing when a parent outlives their child. My mom was their second youngest, of six. Her two sisters are still alive. Dammit, she should be here!

About ten years before she died, she complained of being tired. Then it was shortness of breath. My sister and I told her to go to the doctor, but she shrugged it off, saying, “No, not yet, it's not bad.” We did not realize until later that she would not go because she could not, she did not have insurance. She stopped mentioning it, for years, until it became so bad that she could not function normally. When we finally understood that she was in trouble and dragged her to the doctor, it was too late.

My mother had colon cancer. She had it for ten years. It was a slow-growing, curable kind of cancer. Unless you do not have access to that cure.

The reason that my mother was tired? She was bleeding, into her gut. For ten years. For ten fucking years. We could not believe that she was so badly off and never told us. She said that she could not, because she did not want to lose everything that she had worked for her whole life. She wanted something to leave to her kids. Damn. We didn't want it, we would rather have her. It's not like it was that much, anyway. Damn, damn, damn. Dammit all to hell!

This is not a unique story. I bet it is pretty common. Lots of people die from lack of access to medical care, or preventative care (like a goddamn colonoscopy). Well, lots of people die like that in this country. Every day.

It should not be this way.

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