Through my life my Mother has not caused me to cry nearly as much as she has in the last 18 months. In fact, I just reemerged from my closet puffy eyed and splotchy faced again. Some call their closets their War Rooms or their Girl Space. I call mine a Tears Time Out. A girlfriend of mine who lost her father does her crying in the laundry room for as she says, who goes in there but the Mom?!
My Mother hasn’t passed, in fact she’s living with my Dad in what we jokingly call “God’s Waiting Room” otherwise known as Florida.
Yet what has transpired in over a year ago with my Mother’s memory has given me great insight into what it means to have time with loved ones. To honor them in their final season – always too soon and never simple.
My beautiful, witty, proper, dignified Mother is a cancer survivor of nearly 20 years. She battled the dreaded “c” word with grace and humor. Each step of the way I thought I was supporting her, but it turns out all along she was carrying me. Until now.
What we thought was a series of mini strokes led us to a diagnosis of lead poisoning which attacks the frontal lobe of the brain so neurologists label her condition in the dementia family. Beyond that they really can’t give us any more info. And now in her senior years it’s almost as if the medical establishment shrugs their shoulders with “well something was gonna get her” and off to the next patient they go.
As an only child of an only child my family is small but loyal with crazy charm. My Dad and I have talked healing procedures, treatments, alternative options, medicines and game plans so often my head spins as to where we landed on next steps. I’ve researched, asked questions, read some more and asked more questions to the chagrin of my parents who we all know are the ones responsible for me turning out so annoying!
And yes I’ve prayed. I’ve prayed out loud. I’ve prayed in silence. I’ve prayed with questions. I’ve prayed up all the answers God would ever need in case He was asking. I’ve prayed with facts why this isn’t fair. I’ve prayed for a miracle. I’ve prayed begging for a miracle because maybe I didn’t pray hard enough last time. I’ve prayed with no sound. I’ve prayed with unintelligible sobs trying to grasp this is the card she’s been dealt.
The card we’ve been dealt.
I cry more than I pray. I realize that’s not the right answer, but if I’m being honest then you need to know I cry a lot. I cry when my kids aren’t in the car and I cry in my Tears Time Out closet. I cry after I talk to Mother if it’s not a great day for the confidence in her memory. Sometimes I cry if it is a great day because I fear tomorrow.
And somewhere in all of this we laugh and exist as we always have. I wipe rears and feed mouths while she tells me how precious her grandchildren are despite their naughtiness – proving once again this is not the stern rules oriented woman who raised me!
In trying to honor my Mother in this season of her life, I’ve had to stop getting frustrated if she doesn’t remember something I told her a few weeks ago. Having to give all the details to a topic yet again exhausts me not because of the energy to communicate but the sadness it invokes. And I’m fortunate because within her schedule she exists without folks really knowing what’s going on or causing alarm. Yet her tone of voice in “hello” when answering the phone now clues me in as to how she’s doing that day. I find that now I’m monitoring her. Comparing today to the last interaction. Weighing each visit against the last. Hovering in my mothering of her. Adulting demands strange responsibilities.
This experience stalled me in anger for awhile. Have you ever been angry at a situation? At God? At the notion to pray for anything, ask for a miracle, believe He is the Great Physician, then see nothing resolve?
It probably doesn’t rattle bold Christians. But it rattles me. When I realized God wasn’t going to give us the miracle of total healing, I was angry that the silence was in fact a big fat “no.”
Or at least a “not now.”
When Mother’s massive Old Testament and New Testament knowledge starts to fade all I can cry out is “this isn’t fair!” I know the proper Good Girl responses to adversity would be life is not fair, earth is not our home and God never promised an easy journey.
To quote my four year old “blah blah blah.”
It’s easy to express Hallmark quotes when it’s someone else’s heart.
Someone else’s best friend.
Not someone who whisked you away to plays and museums as a kid opening up a new world. Who knew a shopping trip or piece of cake could heal most heartaches. Who heard all your dreams and never laughed. Who lovingly brushed your hair as you drifted off to sleep. The person I couldn’t stop hugging one last time before she walked out of my dorm room freshman year. The person who remembers anyone who’s ever done me wrong, but still preaches forgiveness and grace. The first one after my husband to hear “we’re gonna have a baby.”
She is my person.
So in expressing to my Mother how much I love her despite this rough patch we find ourselves in, I will appreciate how abundantly fortunate I am to be her daughter. To have someone who wants the best for you decade after decade? I mean really. Wow. How truly lucky am I?
Her love over the years has never been confined to just her brain.
Eyes that see the best of me, even when I don’t.
Ears that hear so much more of the story I’m telling.
Arms that have always been welcoming, supportive and refreshing.
Hips that carried me around from bouncing babe to wiggly toddler to cuddly preschooler.
The most dainty hands ever poured love into everything from hair styling to packing lunches.
And legs that taught me the box step to Sam Cooke in the kitchen now move a little slower but never miss a melody.
So if it looks like I’m to lose the “Keeper of my Stories” then we shall just have to celebrate all the other roles she commands in finding my best.
Perhaps it’s my turn to return the favor.
Finding the best in this Season, looking to God through it all, seeing blessings through the tears and knowing to the tips of my toes I have been so loved in this life. So freaking loved. That might be the best way to honor my Mother.
Trying to honor my mother even in this season
And perhaps the best way to be just like her.
Perfectly lovely and perfectly loving in every Season.
Happy Mother’s Day Momma Bear. I love you.
XO, Your Kid