I thought I saw her today.
I was in the bank and I thought I saw my mom today. I knew that it could not be my mom, but this woman was the spitting double of my mom. She had her hair, her stature, was wearing a coat my mom would wear…..the only thing that was off was that her purse was not as stylish as my mom liked and she was wearing no jewelry and my mom always wore jewelry when she went out. Also, on closer inspection, her features were not as sharp as my mom’s, but very close.
It was uncanny and I spent an inordinate amount of time staring at this woman. It made me wistful, hopeful and sad, all rolled into one.
Because the reality is that my mom will never be able to go to a mall again on her own, because the reality is that my mom is dying and her health is progressively worsening. It has been a hard journey for her and for me, because not to be overly dramatic, but it is like being in a constant state of mourning, without being able to heal.
Before my mom was ill, she was a power onto herself. Independent, proud, fiercely loving and protective of her kids and very opinionated. And her greatest joy was taking care of others and gardening. Her gardens were both beautiful and sustainable. We ate a lot of the vegetables she grew and she always shared with others. She loved cooking for my brother and I. When I got married, she learned what my husband liked to eat and would tailor meals for him. When my brother and I moved out, she would cook for us and ensure that we had food to take home so that we did not have to cook for a couple of nights.
She and I would speak on the phone a lot and I would see her at least once a week, after I moved out, if not more. Before I got married, she and I would have Friday night movie, and we would binge watch the Gilmore Girls together, or a romantic comedy. She was really looking forward to having grandkids to spoil and she wanted to cook, shop and sew for them and had dreams about her time with them. She is a playful woman, and she would have enjoyed chasing her grandkids and laughing with them – I see that image clearly in my mind.
But then my mom got sick and although it took some time to manifest, she eventually moved away from her home of 40 years and into a retirement home and then into a long term care facility. Her health has gotten progressively worse and I have to say that after every visit with her now, I am a mix of joy, sadness and anger.
Anger, because my mom’s dreams of how she would age have been stolen from her.
I am sad to watch my mother literally withering away before me.
And joy, that notwithstanding everything, I can still see my mom, spend time with my mom, hold her hand, kiss her, talk to her and just feel her love.
It is difficult though because my kids will only ever have memories of grandma in a facility and will have no memories of eating her cooking or wearing something that she sewed. And that really causes me pain. But on the flip side, she has taught my kids compassion and they have learned that not everyone is able bodied and well, but that does not affect the bond between them.
Selfishly, I miss the mom I need now. My dad passed away years ago and the only other person I have from my immediate family is my brother. He is the only person who knows our family stories and history. That is sad also. We are the only ambassadors and keepers of that side of our family. I have become very protective of our legacy and want to ensure that my children understand their family tree. In part, that is why I write this blog – so that my kids will have a better understanding of this side of their heritage and will know the stories of their ancestors.
And that is why I am also very happy to be the keeper of the family photo albums that my dad put together and amassed throughout the years. The albums give a snap shot of days of yore – days when I can show my kids how stylish grandma was, how great her garden was and how her smile is always genuinely bright in every photo. It allows me to tap into moments and by seeing a photograph of a picnic, instantly remember the food that she packed, the checkered table cloth and blanket that she brought and stylish water jug that was so heavy, but looked so great, because even though the food was great, the whole presentation had to be just right also.
And so, although the lady at the bank was not my mom, for just a moment, she gave me a photograph in my mind, of what it would be like to have my mom, as she wanted to be, now. Able, independent and with a twinkle in her eye……Bittersweet.
Moms really do have a lasting impact on your life!
But that’s just one Diva’s view…..