Every step she takes is excruciating for her, and so she spends much of her time sitting in her chair with her dog by her side, watching television.
She complains that with all the television stations the cable company offers, she still can’t find anything to watch.
“I’m going to cancel cable, I think,” she says, but she never does.
My mom doesn’t like to do much of anything else. Every hobby I suggest is met with a slow shake of her head.
“Would you like me to get you a good book?”
“No…” she says. “I used to like to read. I don’t know what happened.”
“How about a craft….scrap booking, maybe?”
“No….” she says with a sigh.
She likes doing the daily crossword puzzle in the local paper, and at least, that seems to be keeping her mind active.
I sit and talk with her when I can. I tell her about the changing landscape of the city-new businesses that are going in up the street, old buildings that are getting knocked down to make room for the new.
I offer to take her out on nice days to show her.
She shakes her head.
“It’s just too hard,” she says.
She has started using the laptop I encouraged her to buy so she could stay informed about what is going on in the world. But she doesn’t understand any of it and seems to find comfort in what’s wrong with the world today, instead of what is right.
“I don’t understand why people come over to visit me and then sit there texting on their phones instead of talking,” she told me one day.
I shrug my shoulders. “That’s just what people do now,” I say. “It’s not right. It’s just what is.”
She looks at me and laughs. “Yeah…I suppose. I’m just lost, is all.”
Her statement makes me want to cry.
My mother, a once active and vibrant woman lost more than a spouse when my dad died five years ago. She lost the desire to participate in life.
She doesn’t say it, but she’s mad. She’s mad at her situation and mad that my dad left her alone. She’s mad that she can’t do many things she used to. I have tried to lift her spirits, to make her see that she still has a lot of life to live, but she just doesn’t seem to care anymore. She is just existing.
I wrote my mom’s story for the family a few years ago and through our many conversations, I learned that my mother may not have had the best of everything, but she certainly did the best with what she had.
My mom grew up during the Depression, and though times were tough, her parents made sure the kids never went hungry. Grandpa trapped squirrels and caught catfish from the river. She told me that there were several times her parents went without meals so she and her brother had enough to eat.
She said she started working when she was 11, at a downtown laundry business. She remembered how they had to take salt pills because they sweated so much.
She found herself having to carry the burden when my dad was in a terrible car accident when I was 4. He nearly died, and couldn’t work for a year. With nine kids to feed, she worked nights and took care of the family and my dad during the day. She worked until she was 63, and traveled with my dad to exotic destinations before my dad became sick.
“I miss him everyday,” she told me one time, as she gazed at his picture sitting next her on the table. “But sometimes I feel like he’ s still here.”
This woman, who means the world to me, who picked me up when I fell, who dried my tears after breaking up with a boyfriend, who shared my happiness on my wedding day and over the birth of my children, who encouraged me when I didn’t think I could go on, who always taught me to be the best person I could be….
…this beautiful woman, proved to me time and again, what it means to be a mother.
It means sacrificing your happiness so your children could have a better life. It means going without, so your kids could have new clothes to start school.
Being a mother means being there when your child needs you. It means spending sleepless nights worrying about their well-being. It means never, ever forgetting what it means to be a mother.
My mother taught me well.
Though her anger and sadness seem to cloud over her love for life, she is still the loving and devoted mother she has always been.
My mom and I don’t always agree on everything, and I doubt we ever will. But I know that she loves me and would do anything for me. Now I have the opportunity to show my appreciation by being here for her.
Mother’s Day is not just a day to recognize and celebrate my mom, because I celebrate her everyday.
But rather, it’s a day to remember why we become mothers in the first place and to pass on that love only a mother can give, and only a mother can receive.
The love between a mother and child-the love that lives forever.