06 January 2013

thinking about my mom

Loving my mom just as she is, just as she was

Do you love your mum? I mean, really, love her? I think perhaps you do. I don't think that there are many people in the world that absolutely detest, despise, or deplore their mother. I believe that most folk are like me: they love their mom; they accept all the bad and all the good. They know, despite however much suffering and contempt they have felt by her hands, that they will, no matter what, love her. They remember being tucked in. Kissed on the cheek. Or at least they knew what it felt like to want those things & they know a part of them will always love their mom.

I knew this to be true back then, back when I was a child; and I still do, even now, after her death. I really love my mum, more than I think she ever knew, more than I think she ever knew before she died, maybe even more than I think I knew.  I do believe she knew, in many ways, that I did love her, that I would bend to her will, and answer her call. However, she also knew, I think, that I was stronger than her. For this simple fact of strength, I tell myself that is why, ever so why, she seemed so angry with me in the last months of her life, so despondent and upset...with me; with her life.

But I did love her.I truly loved my mother; but in the years before we knew how sick she was, I was frustrated with her. We all were. For my part, I didn't understand what was going on with her. In the last few years before she died, she appeared weaker than ever before: she drank more than she should, she did not seem to want to take care of her body, she was slow.  My mother shuffled when she walked, and mumbled when she was tired; and often, way to often, in the evening hours when there was nothing to look forward to but sleep, she had far too much to drink.

Several years before we knew she was dying, my husband, N, said to me, that there is a point in your twilight years where you either embrace and love, for better or for worse, how you have lived; or, you push away from it, angry and full of regret and remorse. This regret, this remorse seemed to be how my mother was living. Full of fear, full of liquor, unable to really take care of anyone, let alone herself. It is not an easy way to see your mother. It is not an easy way to see any one you love. And it is certainly not, it is certainly not!, an easy way to die.

There came a point during the late winter and early spring 2012, when my siblings and I began to wonder...wonder what exactly was going on with our mom. Both my sister L (who lives closest to me) and I wondered how much she was really drinking. And if she was drinking as much as everyone feared, perhaps it was out of loneliness and depression, not necessarily out of spite for her marriage, her life and her husband. We were worried. My sis, M, who lives quite close to my parents, began to see true weight loss in my mom's frame; & an emptiness in my mom's heart & a heaviness in my mom's shoulders. M would whisper to me on the phone how sad it was to see mom this way. M was so worried. Us three sisters were oh so worried. Even J, our brother, began to worry.

So a plan was launched. And doctor appointments were made. And first L flew out and then I flew out. And Mom.was.quite.very. pissed.  I remember, quite clearly, the argument she had obviously been working up to have with me: With me, her oldest, her first born.  And I certainly WAS NOT going to be the one to tell her what to do:

me: "You are going to the doctors tomorrow."
mom: "No, I am not."
me "Yes, yes, you are."
mom: "No, no I am not."
me: "Sorry mom, but you are."
mom: "I have my own...(I remember her stumbling on this, struggling to get the words out succinctly so as to make her point)...my own MIND! MY. OWN. MIND."{she pointed at her head, to emphasize the point}
me: "I know. But you have to go (me, inside, my heart is breaking). You have to go."
mom: "No!"
me: "Yes."
me: "Yes."

Dad says something to reiterate she IS going to the doc. M is scared and is tapping on her iPhone. I look at mom, and say "Yes. yes you are." Mom gets up and walks away....I follow her into her bedroom. My mom is folding her clothes. I try to help her fold, but mom is too upset, too angry at me to care. I could tell, in that moment she HATES me, like a child hates their own mother when she takes away their toy, Mom hates me for telling her she has to go to the doctor. But I secretly believe she is relieved that someone, me, is taking over.

my niece, mom, me
And then I hear her breathing. It is deep, and heavy, and rasping, and wheezing. And I know she has pneumonia & I start to feel scared. But I keep folding her clothes. Folding clothes. Folding little things of ridiculousness like her underwear and her bras. As if I could reconstruct her life, sew together the seams of my siblings lives, make it all better, make it all go away, away into folded drawers and onto the tops of shelves.

 Even then, I didn't know what the doctors would really say.  I didn't imagine that they would say things like:  neurologist, A.L.S., incurable, Lou Gehrig's, advanced, tidy up your life, get things in order...because really, WTF, hadn't I just got my mom's life in order? Really? Hadn't I just flew out here and folded her clothes and figured out that she, at the bare minimum, had pneumonia?

 And then, you walk out of the doctor's office, into the spring-time-sun melting away the winter clouds, and your whole life radically shifts. Shifts into something different. Into a time of waiting for something you can't fix, something you can't retract, or take back or make the fuck better. Because, in the end, no matter how much you are your parent's parent...you can't fix what is so already broken and condemned.   

I love my mum. I really, really, really loooooove her. I  truly do. 

Just wish I could have fixed her; 
had the chance to fix this!
one. more. time.


  1. ah, you had a harder time of it than I did. In her last few days my mother was talking about my father working too hard in the garden. I showed her the wedding picture we took with her to frail care. 'Yes, that's him. He looks happy!' And he did, and so did she.

    1. lovely story. I know it must have been so hard to lose her, but she sounds like she was at peace in her last days. thanks so for sharing. xo

  2. xxxx Your story really resonated with me. Your husbands words "there is a point in your twilight years where you either embrace and love, for better or for worse, how you have lived; or, you push away from it, angry and full of regret and remorse." One of my greatest fears for myself and for anyone is to have travelled throughout this one life and come to the end filled with anything but love and satisfaction and the feeling that there will never be enough time, but I've lived my life well. To live with anger regret, as you say, so so sad. I feel for you all, so so dreadful. Relationships between mothers and daughters, so amazing and challenging at the same time. I'm glad I found you via Che and Fidel - I'll be reading back over the years. Victoria

    1. thank you oh so much. it was such a difficult piece to write & reflect on. these days i am haunted by the slowly approaching anniversary of when we flew out there and how we found out just how ill my mother really was. thanks so for your kind and encouraging words. so glad you stopped in, it is lovely to follow around your sweet notes. xxoo


hello there! I love it so when you leave a bit of a note to let me know how you are and what you are thinking. I always love to hear about the things inspiring you and moving you through your day.

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