As I look at my mother; older now, frail and concentrating on buttoning her shirt with her fingers crooked and not cooperating, I still see the young woman she was. The beautiful blonde, with her bright blue eyes and the kind smile. She is there. Thank heavens she still has most of her memories and dementia has not taken her. While I still have her, I continue to try to get to know the woman I call mom.
I have such clear memories of her when I was growing up. I always looked up to her and wanted to be just like her. She was a beautiful woman on the outside, but it was the inside that shown through that attracted my affection for her. She is kind, funny and a bit of a smart ass all roled up into a lady. She is an artist/painter, she rode horses, played piano, went back to school when I was in grade school. I have always been so proud of the woman she is. She is strong but so empathetic.
I used to be her “shadow”, because I would follow her from the bathroom to her bedroom, to the kitchen, etc. whenever I didn’t have some fun kid thing to do. I loved watching her go through her skincare routine, put on her makeup and I especially loved watching her get ready for a night out with my dad. Picking out her jewelry, finding the right belt to wear with her long black skirt and just watching her. So graceful, so lovely. I still see her as I watch her sort through her pills.
Although I never inherited her artistic ability, I do believe I have her tenacity, her strength and her kindness. She loves everyone, no matter where you come from or what your personal preferences are and thank heavens, myself and all my sisters inherited that trait. I learned from her first hand how to tackle pain, injuries and difficulty without being whiny or complaining about it. I got through cancer because of her; I remembered how she handled every hard ball that came her way (including breast cancer and lymphoma) and I was damned if I wasn’t going to handle myself the same as she did.
The difference I see now is I want to protect her; she has done her job with her daughters and now, I want her to be able to live as she pleases. I do not want to push anything on her that she does not want. This is her life and she has the right to make her own decisions. That’s not to say if I felt I needed to step in I wouldn’t. I would; however, that time has not come, at least I don’t believe it has.
My current thoughts seem to be consumed with doing whatever I can to ensure that this lovely woman is taken care of. It’s difficult when our life flips like this. The situation I am in as an older child helping her elderly mother is nothing new; it’s just new to me. I never realized that it would be so difficult, and I understand that it will only get harder and harder at this point. I am blessed that I still have mom in my life and I am grateful that she still has her faculties and that we are able to laugh and enjoy each other’s company. I am at the beginning of this new journey and I can only hope and pray that I do right by mom, and that dad is looking down on me with love and approval.