Mother’s Day is two months away—too long to wait to share my thoughts about my mom. Her time is short, at least that’s what hospice tells us. But, to be honest, hospice has been giving her ‘less than six months’ for over a year now. She may well make it to Mother’s Day this year, next year and the year after. For most of my life, she’s battled one ailment after another, always expecting each year to be her last and now, after eighty-seven health challenged years, these may truly be her final days.
I wish she could read the words I have been saving for over a year. Not only are her eyes too clouded with disease to see the page, her dementia precludes her from understanding the simplest thought. Perhaps I should have said this all before, but it was probably a conscious decision on my part to wait until she couldn’t respond. This way I don’t have to worry about whether she understands or accepts me—I get to say what I feel.
Anyone who knows me well, probably expects me to pass judgement and criticize the woman who pushed my buttons from my late teenage years on. We were never on the same wavelength and after years of trying to explain myself and justify who I was, it has come to an end. We have agreed to disagree, not by any verbal contract, but by just giving up. And, maybe that’s a good thing. I guess I probably pushed her buttons, too.
Mom had a rough beginning—she was placed in an orphanage at eighteen months of age. She has no recollection of those days, including her birth parents or her subsequent adoption by my grandparents, but I’m sure they left a scar. Could that be the reason she has always looked at life with a critical eye? Her criticism and judgement still stings at times, but what hurts more is the fact that I sometimes find those traits creeping into my personality. She taught me to look for the flaws in those around me and here I am doing it again. Sorry, Mom, I want to blame you, but I’m a big girl now and it is time I choose a different path. I’d like to think I have been traveling the positive path for a while now, but that negative thing creeps in there once in a while.
They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree—I do share some of Mom’s traits—but, most days I feel like I left that tree a decade or two ago. I wish Mom could see how far the apple fell from her decaying birth tree. In spite of her difficult beginnings, her life was better than most with the parents who chose her and as I look back, it seems life in our cozy little neighborhood was pretty darn great. Mom was a beautiful, talented woman who took good care of her family—I still remember the nurturing when I was home sick. But, maybe I didn’t nurture her enough. While she cooked fabulous meals, sewed most of our clothes, helped us with school projects, excelled at games and even played the piano, I just took it all for granted. Isn’t that stuff what Moms do?
As I look back, I have to say she was a good mom when we were young—a bit critical and always in control, but a good mom nonetheless. I think it all changed when I grew up and developed a mind of my own. I’ve spent the last forty-five years trying to convince her that I have a right to my own opinion; I’m not a kid anymore. And, honestly, those forty-five years have been difficult.
I would still like to heal our differences, but that will never happen now. She can no longer see me or hear me through the fog of dementia and sometimes I wonder if she saw me when her mind was clear. I may never get over that frustration, but I hope when she passes on she is able to see inside my heart. I may not have always liked Mom, but I always loved her and I want her to know she made a difference in my life.
We are all a product of our parents and we can either blame them for our anxieties in adulthood or we can thank them for their role in shaping us. Today I choose to thank Mom and I hope somewhere in her scrambled brain she finally accepts me and maybe even thanks me for adding something to her life.