Many times during one’s life, you may find someone older helping you and teaching
you. Especially as a young child, most of us were lucky to have parents and role models.
Sometimes, in unfortunate situations, there are children who have to become adults
far too soon. They become the ‘caretakers’ of siblings, they may even take care of their
mother, as my Dad did at age 11. The mentors in his life, teachers and a minister, are
who really ‘saved him.’
Here are some thoughts about a day with my Mom:
As my Mom slides more easily backwards in time, more comfortable in her childhood
outlook and way of looking at things, I see this in a brighter, happier light these days.
Reverting to a time where things always seem new and one can exclaim, “I have never
seen the sky so brilliant in a sunset!” or “The leaves are so lushly colored, freshly painted!”
It makes me smile more. I appreciate this way of thinking and it helps me embrace her,
hold her hand and guide her across dangerous paths where cars may not judge her slow,
She loves her dog, it is like children want to give their dogs ‘treats’ every time they are
‘good.’ I have to remind her that Nicki only should eat twice a day, but don’t worry too
much as she is 12 years old. She can refuse if her belly is too full, she also can run around
and wear off the calories… Mom is very good at taking her on two long walks a day. We
go to the edge of a woods, where she uses her cane to remove prickly sticks and makes a
path less treacherous for her ‘little girl.’
Life, to my Mom, is full of excitement and she arises late with sleepy eyes, needing a cup
of black coffee, a tablespoon of peanut butter and I have brought her pancakes (one
morning), oatmeal a couple of mornings, but mainly she rubs her hands together in
anticipation to see if there is a sweet roll or Danish from the dining room. Her ‘expectant’
air about her is catching.
There have been some ‘stories’ told about my Mom, like a child who is part imp and part
angel. She has used a sharp tone when someone mentions Nicki needing to be brushed.
She has been insulted when she wore her pajama pants in the dining room. ‘After all,
many wear their sweat pants.’ She doesn’t like it when she forgets what day it is, nor
does she appreciate lectures about times for things. The rascal is quite independent and
I have less fear of her being ‘hurt’ each time I hear her strong-willed letters she has sent
off to the Director of the building. She has written about the sumac bushes around the
lake, telling the staff that they should be trimmed, they hinder the residents view while
sitting on the patio. She feels her ‘rent’ should cover gardening and pruning. She wrote
another letter abut the rose bushes, their mites or bugs. She notes, “They need dusting!”
People who are not able to hear well should be paired with others who cannot. She is not
happy when she needs to repeat herself, just as children who must explain themselves
give up and throw their arms up. She misses the bus, when she feels they should ‘Wait on
her.’ Patience is expected by her of others, even when hers is limited at times.
My Dad had admired her ‘spunk’ and her strength of character. He would find it here, still
in large quantities of self-assurance. She still delights in mischief and would still capture
his heart, were he still on Earth….
While the rain dripped down upon the branches outside her balcony, she stopped several
times yesterday to exclaim over their appearance, using these words:
When the rosy-colored purplish hued sky was about to lay the sun to rest,
she had a radiant face aglow watching it from her balcony.
She turned to me, more than three times yesterday to say,
“I have never seen the Fall leaves so special!”
“This view is the Best one I have ever had!”
I could picture her, as a girl, fully appreciating nature’s wonderful changing, colorful
palette. I also thought of her bravery while children taunted her and for some reason
knew to call her, “Zema Puss.” Yes, she had had arthritis and eczema but had always
been beautiful inside and out. She had undaunted courage given her by her parents.
Giving the teen-aged servers candy in the dining room, this is one of her ways of
showing she includes the next generation. She may forget where her eyeglasses,
keys, purse, checkbook, medical card and other ‘meaningless’ items are, but she
takes the time to every season or holiday to spend money to make up bags of
candy for the ‘kids.’ She also says a few French words to the one who is studying
French, a much longer passage of Spanish to the one who is in her third year.
She asks Zach, who has this movie star quality, about his theater productions
and his college courses in drama and English. I have no clue why she is able
to retain this information and use the whole concept I used while raising three
teenagers: “They must have ‘selective memory!'”
As she leaves the dining room, she grabs packages of sugar, Sweet n Low packs,
and a handful of mints at the Hostess Station. She may be one of the best ‘pack rats’
around. She even gives that sly glance sideways, to see if anyone notices how big a
wad of those peppermints she has stuck in her pockets.
Mom is a quieter, less sure woman at night, as she turns on the light in the closet,
leaving the door askew, pushing the nightlights on in the bathroom (one), kitchen
(two), living room, (three and four), and the hallway (five). She looks down at her
little shadow, Nicki, and says,
“She gets scared of the dark. Hope it is okay to have so many of these on, Robin.
Will you be able to find your way to the bathroom?”
When I look down at Nicki, I almost perceive a gentle shrug of the shoulders, as
if her dog is saying,
“Let her have this habit. No big deal. Give this to her.”
Later, when I need to use same nightlights to guide me to the bathroom, I tiptoe
in to gaze upon her sleeping, serene countenance. A moment of remembrance of
doing this ritual with my own children, now my grandies when they sleepover. I
imagine her doing this for each of her three children, as we slept peacefully.
I kiss her forehead and whisper, “Sweet dreams, Mama.”
Holding my hand, we go to the doctors. I hope this one will go smoother than the
one this summer, when frustrated with her purse’s zippers, she threw her photo
ID and her medical card at the poor, slightly impatient receptionist, who repeated
the request instead of just waiting as Mom searched…
As we leave the doctor’s office, after paying her co-pay, I tell her that she doesn’t
have to go to another doctor until next July. She nods, repentant, turning to tell
the receptionist, “Have a wonderful day and Happy Thanksgiving!”
Walking together, we lean in.
I am fully blessed,
counting the time (and steps)
I have left with my mother.