originally published at VOTS
As a family we were never the Hallmark Card picture of any holiday, but we celebrated and enjoyed them just the same. Mother’s Day was no exception. We never did anything over the top, just cards and flowers for mom, gifts when we were flush, and a nice family dinner. The non-moms get to clean up and that is pretty much how it went for most of my life.
Now, here is where I’ll tell you a little something about my mom. My mom was smart, funny, the Aunt who was everybody’s favorite, and notoriously hard to buy a gift for. You could try, but if she opened that bugger and wasn’t thrilled with what was inside? Oh! There was no hiding that, she just couldn’t pretend. That is hard on a kid. Happily, as she got older, she started collecting things, Seraphim Angels for one, giving us all an easy out. Just add to her collection and she’d be pleased as punch. That’s over now. There’s no more pleasure or displeasure, just a distracted sense of–Oh, is it Mother’s Day?
It shouldn’t be this hard, yet somehow it is. I can’t even explain it. I loved my Grandmother as much as one could possibly love another human being, and I helped nurse her through her final year on this earth right here in the room where I sit. A series of strokes took her mobility, her speech and finally her life, and that was very hard, but it wasn’t like this. The doctor told us all that we took much better care of her than she would have ever received in long term care, she was never alone, she was always surrounded by family who loved her. It was at this time that my mother got a promise from me–no less for you, Mom, never will you be abandoned to strangers, not on my watch. That’s a promise she’s reminded me of at times over the years, not lately, because she doesn’t remember, but I do.
Dementia has stolen the Mom I knew, but not the Mom I love. Even if she doesn’t know if we’re mother and daughter or sisters that day, she still knows that she loves me and I love her. As I stood at the stove on Mother’s Day I heard her come into the kitchen, and I turned to her, “Do you need something, Mommy?” She came to me and hugged me, her eyes welling up, said my name and “Thank you, thank you so much for…” then the strings of that emotional corset pulled so tight– I couldn’t breath for a moment, my throat threatened to lock and leave me unable to speak. I heard her murmur something about what I do for her and I managed to get out, “No, we do for each other, we always have.” She pulled back and she was smiling, “Yeah, we do, don’t we?” and then she wandered away.
And that hug, it was a gift, a beautiful gift to me. But what I wouldn’t give for just one more stink-eye from Mom over a bad gift.