It’s going to be a rather odd day for me this year, three weeks after my mom’s stroke. I spent some time with her on Friday and on Saturday, but today I’m at home. One of the things that makes me sad is that she won’t notice I’m not there. For once in my mom’s life, she isn’t worrying about anything but is living in the moment. That’s not all bad, I guess. Her future is taken care of (she’s a follower of Jesus and knows she will spend eternity with him), her past cannot be changed. All that’s left is the present. And that is where she lives, her face usually clear of worry lines, though still a little sad.
Hanna was home for Friday and Saturday and is currently on the bus headed back to her home. Her daddy is at work. I think it will be a long day. If the sky clears later, I may do some yard work after church. My yard has been woefully neglected this spring, as I’ve done absolutely nothing outside. This is the first day I’ve been off work and at home in weeks.
There are very few photos of just my mom and me from any point in my life, but here’s one I like from my first Christmas. I’m the youngest of five girls and there are way more photos of my sisters and I than any of us with Mom! She was never overly photogenic so I’m certain she stayed away from the camera on purpose.
My parents raised me in a solid home where we always knew we were loved, even if not always understood! She was a good mom for a young girl, always willing to encourage me in homework, read to me, and play games with me. She had a hard time dealing with adolescents, though. I think she hoped that if she ignored my hormones and my crushes, they would just go away. Ha! As a result, and also because I spent my high school years in boarding school, my mom and I drifted apart.
Even though I wasn’t a BAD teenager, I knew she didn’t really approve of everything I did. She never asked a lot of questions, and I didn’t volunteer information. It took me a lot of years to understand that this was a basic character difference between us. She didn’t want to pry, and believed that if there was something important I wanted to tell her, I would do so. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen because I thought if she was interested, she’d ask. That led to a lack of communication that lasted for a long time.
This second photo was taken four years ago, at my daughter’s wedding. It’s the last time Mom came to our home, actually. Our adult relationship still had a lot of rocky bits in it because I wasn’t the daughter that would phone her every day. My life is too scattered to try to commit to that kind of structure, and I’m naturally rebellious besides. In recent years when her only social life was on the phone, I know she would have liked me to call much oftener than I did. I can’t guilt myself too much over that, even now when I know that I will never talk to her on the phone again. I tried to be the best daughter I could be…and still be me.
It’s hard visiting Mom now. There is usually a flash of recognition when I go in her hospital room. I can help her with her meals when I’m there. I know how to fix the coffee that comes on her meal tray. I know which foods there is no point in offering her. I know that her favorite part of every meal is dessert, giving a whole new angle on the old saying, ‘Life is uncertain; eat dessert first.’ I can pray with her and read to her, and when she had a private room for the first couple weeks, I’d sometimes sing for her. (If you knew how well I could carry a tune, you’d be amazed I was brave enough even in a private room, but I sing better than Mom and I know many of her old favorites!)
Beyond those things, it’s pretty quiet at her bedside. She can’t formulate sentences anymore and usually doesn’t bother trying. She sleeps a lot. It’s not likely that she is long for this world, and I have mixed feelings about that. I know that her job here is done and that she longs to go Home. It’s still hard to let go.
She’s my mommy, and she always will be.
I’m glad she’s prepared to go, but it is still hard for you — for exactly the reason you state at the end.
Lovely heartfelt post.
Beautiful essay. Thank you for sharing it with us.