It’s been 3 years since my mom passed away from fighting a losing battle to Alzheimer’s. Her last 9 years are fresh in my mind, the years when we reversed roles and I became the parent of a parent. I’ve been longing for the day when the pre-Alzheimer’s memories return to me with effortless ease, when my mom was a mom to me.
And, miraculously, without effort, just recently, I thought of her. I thought of my youthful mother. I thought of those vibrant, deep blue eyes. I recall with in vivid detail how I felt when she used to hold my hand when we crossed the street, me struggling a bit to exert my independence. Her grip just firm enough to get the message through to me, “you’re too young to cross the street on your own. I’m in charge here.”
I thought of what she taught me. And before I knew it, a flood of one memory after another came rushing in, almost too fast, not giving me enough time to wallow in the details.
And, likely because of May and Mother’s Day, this is what comes wafting up:
She taught me little things like how to peel garlic.
Beautify your environment with flowers from the garden. Keep it simple.
Escape from a hectic day by reading a good book.
Homemade soup on a chilly day is soothing to the soul.
And, she taught me important things:
I learned how to bathe my newborn babies from my mother.
My devotion to my children was modeled after my mom’s devotion to her children.
She taught me how to love those who are not easy to love. I’m still working on that.
She taught me how to pray. And I do. Constantly.
When I was at the peak of hormonal angst as a teen, my mom commented little and for the most part, let me be. A big, gigantic pain at times and she loved me anyway. Occasionally, there was the “I’ve had enough of that young lady and you’re grounded.”
I learned from my mom to parent with the most unconditional love imaginable, and that’s not always easy. Every time my siblings or I caused grief in our family, we were quickly forgiven, encouraged to learn from those transgressions. Sometimes the learning took years, but she was patient this mother of mine.
To make my children feel worthy simply because they are, I learned that too. Exactly what she did for me.
There were times aplenty when my mom let me down. When I was so ferociously mad at her for divorcing my dad, remarrying a man who was difficult to live with, ignoring my need to be directed, to have rules that were just a tad stricter. Amazingly, however, when I think of those memories, I smile. There is a softness to the humanness that make my own foibles ever so much more palatable. Yes, self-forgiveness is a lesson too.
I understand now that a message is delivered better by modeling rather than by lecturing.
But mostly, I feel her presence. I feel her wisdom. I feel her radiance. I feel her love.
I hope my daughters feel this from me. They make missing her hurt a little less.
MOM AND ME