My Own Loss
Ten years ago today, I slept on a pull out bed with my husband and children the night we chose to stay at the hospice care facility where my mother spent her last days. There was nothing unusual about the night, nothing to prompt our need to be there anymore than the night before. She was in and out of consciousness and the delirium that clouded her mind. After a 14-month battle with cancer, she was ready to take the last steps of her journey.
Only one prayer came to mind there at the end that I would be there when she passed, by her side, holding her hand, and saying goodbye. Around three in the morning, a strange bell woke me enough that I got up and walked to her bedside. She was long past the days of IV’s and monitors that signaled nurses to come running to her aid; I knew the ringing sound did not come from any medical equipment. Call it a coincidence if you like, but I choose rather to believe it was an answer to my prayer.
Softly, I sat on the edge of her bed and peered down at her face that, even in the dimly lit room, revealed a sense of peace. Her slightly cool hand neither responded to my touch nor did she open her eyes when I spoke to her. I watched her draw on the sweet essence of life one last time; she exhaled her way to the next world with gentle beauty. And, she was gone. It happened just as I had hoped it would, no pain, no fuss, just the two of us in a quiet moment of mutual love and respect.
There isn’t a day that goes by I don’t think of her. Just because a girl gets to her forties doesn’t mean she doesn’t need her mother. The bond is there for me, for you, for all of us, unmistakably affecting everything we do as women. It makes no difference what kind of relationship you have or had with your mother, she holds a position in your life that no other person can. Even after her death, she teaches the most profound life lessons.
I chose to share my mother’s passing with you for a reason. Interacting with many women on a daily basis, I see so many of them with despairing relationships with their mothers. They curse them, make fun of them, disrespect them, and even choose to disown them from their lives all together. Moms are certainly not perfect and some even deserve a kick in the ass sometimes, but they don’t deserve our disconnectedness.
Even if you think you hate your mom, you might consider reconciliation before it’s too late. Truth be told, you never know when life will come to an abrupt end for either of you. Thankfully, I had over a year to reconcile differences I had with my mother. We spent hours talking and sharing random thoughts, unrealized dreams, and our worst fears-a time I would not trade for the world. I discovered that nothing was worth alienating someone so important to my life. Unfortunately, sometimes it takes tragedy or adversity to bring people together.
I said all that to say this, if your mother is living then treat her with the utmost respect. Go to her and love her unconditionally. Make an effort to relate to her on a daily basis if possible. You can always find something to talk about. I’m sure she would love to tell you some interesting details about her past; some of it might even be scandalous! Before my mom died, she revealed some pretty juicy tid-bits from her younger days.
Her Season of Need
If your mother is ill or living in a nursing home, it is even more imperative that you show her your undying love and affection. Her inability to function as a whole person, as your mother, as a needed person in society is hurting her more than you could ever know. This is a great time to visit her regularly, to tell her that you still need her. You might be your mother’s primary care giver as I was for my mom. Make this time special for you both; include memorable, fun activities in your daily grind. Sometimes the silliest things can be the most special. A game of rummy, a pedicure, a Three Stooges marathon; you never know what will remain etched in your mind for the rest of your life.
Cherish Your Children and They Will Cherish You
Because I am a mother of six, two of which are grown, I can honestly say that the adult relationship with your children is highly important. It is there that you recognize your weaknesses and strengths as they were applied to your kid’s lives. They see all that stuff, too, probably even before you do. Some apologies may be in order. If you are a parent, try to keep the communication open between you and your adult offspring. Even though they savor their privacy and the freedom to make their own choices, they need you, too. Just because they don’t live under your roof doesn’t mean you should cut the tether completely.
Just remember that this crucial relationship works both ways. You are the daughter, and you are the mother. We all have the opportunity to change lives with our interactions with family. You need them and they need you. Don’t ever take them for granted; they won’t be there forever. Thanks, Mom…I love you always.