|Mom and me in 2008.|
I love my mom.
She is a little insane, but I love her.
I find something out about her all of the time. I think, too, as we both get older, I see more and more of her adult personality, as I revert less often to the “child” when I’m with her. I realized recently she is a very creative person when she proposed a funny solution to a weird problem and it totally worked. It occurred to me she is always coming up with creative ideas like that. It was funny to me that it took 40 years for me to figure it out.
During this past year, I have been missing her badly. She is alive and well, but as I was going through treatment this year, she couldn’t be there for me the way she has been through so many other of my struggles.
Last summer, my aunt and her sister, who had lived with her and my dad for almost 10 years, died.
It was very difficult for my mom in the way that deaths which are “blessings” are. My aunt had been ill for many years and had really done remarkably well considering she had some significant health problems. When she became critically ill, she refused all further medical intervention, choosing a death that was swift and limited in pain. She was done and glad to go.
She had been a large presence in my parents’ lives for so many years, her sudden absence was somewhat traumatizing. While she was a wonderful woman in so many ways, she also had a lot of anger and she took it out on my mom. You know the crotchety old woman who is angry with everyone? It’s easy to smile and shake your head at her, but imagine living with that day in and out. It was rough for my mom and dad.
So, the aftermath of her dying included my mom trying to make sense of that. A sudden absence of that person always telling her what to do and always in need of assistance. My mother is a caretaker and, at that point, she had been taking care of people non-stop for about 50 years: children, her parents, more children, grandchildren, her friend, me, her sister.
My parents were wiped. It was obvious when I would visit — they could barely move from their chairs. They are seldom like that; rather, they are old folks on the go. I was very happy the day they got cell phones because reaching them at a home phone was impossible. But not last fall and winter. They were home and they clearly didn’t feel like leaving.
I muddled through without her. She called a lot, so I knew she hadn’t forgotten me. (My dad was also sick, off and on, during the winter, which meant she had to stay close to home, too.) Once, I texted her and begged her to come visit. My life was in shambles and I needed her there to help. She called and asked me what all I needed. I went through the long list (I’m exhausted, I can’t do everything, I can’t sleep, I hurt everywhere, I can’t clean my house, whaaa, boo hoo and all that) and she latched onto laundry — told me to bring my laundry the next time I was in town (which is weekly). So, since then, I’ve taken her all of my laundry. She washes, dries and folds it. Meanwhile, my dad cracks jokes about how they are so poor mom has had to take in washing and that I should be sure to leave my change on the table.
Spring has come and things are better at their house. They both love the sunshine and outdoors. Whenever I visit, they are rarely in their chairs, now. At my last several visits, my mom has been out pulling weeds. This woman has a terrible back and can barely walk many days, but she has been outside digging around her 3-year-old home and dad is out messing up things with the tractor. They lost their house in a flood four years ago (story for another time) and, with my aunt’s poor health, have barely settled in. So, they are now attacking landscaping with a gusto.
I wish I could do so much more for her and dad. My lottery dreams always go something like: pay off my bills, invest for Colleen’s college, help out mom and dad. Of course, I’m one of those lottery dreamers who doesn’t play the lottery, so I guess I’ll keep dreaming.
I know that not everyone out there has great parents and I’m sorry for that. I wish you did. If you knew my mom, though, and needed something, she’d welcome you in, feed you and figure out what she could do for you. She might even keep you for a while the way she has many kids. No matter what, you would leave feeling loved.