Why is it that my grown daughter feels it is ok to ignore my phone calls? I know cell phones are invasive, and that you dont HAVE to answer them, but its her mother for God’s sake, wouldnt you think she’d pick up just to make sure everything is ok????? When she calls me, I answer. When her dad calls, 99% of the time, she answers. When I call? its a 50/50 chance she will pick up. Seriously.
I am SO not my mother’s daughter. I tell myself this regularly. I pray at night that my wish will come true and that I can hold on to the precious few memories of bonding with my mom and let loose of the pain and the wound tight persona she embodies.
And, today I am reminded of just how much I am not my mothers daughter. Packing one more box for the dual moves we are making over the next month, I came across two poems written to us by our daughters. the first, from our oldest, musing about her memories of car rides and long talks, full of joy and melancholy and family. The second, a sort of apology and gratitude piece from our youngest, who often feels she has to apology for her past. This is not true, she does not have to apologize. She is the most caring, involved, loving person I know. her passion has led her astray a few times when she was young , but she has nothing to apologize for. her experiences have made her the amazing woman she is today.
But, anyway. As I picked up these two poems and read them, I remembered the last notes I had found tucked away in drawers and boxes. The hate filled notes my mother had written for me to find when, she assumed, she was dead and I was organizing her life’s clutter. I found them early, but their bite was just as strong.
And I am happy that the notes I have chosen to save are filled with hope, and joy and love. With good memories and praise. Notes that will make everyone who reads them, now or in years to come, know that this family faced things together, and loved each other through every heartache. I am SO not my mother’s daughter….
mom is in the Assisted Living home. She has a sweet little apartment, complete with refrigerator and microwave, coffee pot and toaster. And most of her beautiful stuff, her antique desk and her grandmother’s rocker were the first pieces of furniture we brought in. I had them all set up before she came into her room. It made her smile, and I like to think, gave her a sense of home.
I am left to clean up the mess that was her home. whenever you walked into moms it was dark. Since I was a child she avoided turning on lights in the house. her home always looked neat and tidy. When we began to ready her move and I had to open drawers and cupboards I found out that she has kept every piece of paper to enter that house since dad died over 5 years ago, along with a multitude of bills etc. from when he was alive. And, among these bills, checks, receipts and contracts, I found no less than 15 letters and notes where she detailed a variety of wrongs my brother and I had done to her. Hateful notes full of self pity and accusations of neglect and anger. Not one, not ONE of them spoke of her great grandchildren, or her grandchildren. Of visits to dads grave, or shopping trips or Christmas meals. None of them spoke of her sorrow at dads passing or her memories of their past together. Each was a scathing hit at one of us, or dad. She kept one from 1956 that she wrote to dad, a private note between a young wife and her husband, full of hatred and threats. And they were scattered throughout her troves of papers. You couldn’t miss them, and, for all except one dated October 2012 and the one written to my father, you couldn’t tell when they were written. And even if now she doesn’t remember they are there — if her fog is that deep— when she wrote them, when she placed them in with these papers, she knew we would find them . She wrote them to cause us pain. We were meant to find them after she died, when we couldn’t confront them or her, when we couldn’t question her or dispute. She wrote them to cause us pain. What a pitiful, angry life.
And a lesson for me to surround myself in gratitude and joy and let the anger and pain roll off. It is just cruel to cause pain to those who love you — and to do it when it is too late for them to make it right.
today we move mom into her assisted living apartment. Even as i write this I have trouble believing it. She should have moved in with me sometime in the past 5 years. She should have sons who care enough to help with this massive undertaking. I should further appreciate this husband of mine, who, once again has jumped in to make my life bearable. Details to come.
that I am part of the “sandwich” generation. However, right now I am about out of peanut butter and this whole “caretaker” roll is getting stale. So self involved, I know, but, I’m exhausted.
is humbled with gratitude. I look around, and though I complain sometimes , I know I am blessed beyond measure, lucky beyond my dreams and protected beyond understanding. .
My kids are healthy. Physically and emotionally. Bumps in the road, yes. But solid, healthy and building strong futures.
My grandchildren are healthy. Physically, developmentally and emotionally. they laugh, cry, explore. they smack each other and hug each other. they take each other’s toys and bring each other gifts. They call me grammy and melt my heart.
My husband is healthy. Present and involved. Tonight he cooked dinner as I lay on the couch nursing a hurt back. I complained — didnt like the pork chop or the rice. When he went to pick up my medicine he brought home a nice fresh fruit salad — ,my number one favorite treat.
My mother spent the night. thunderstorms took out her power so we went over and picked her up. Actually husband did, I was pulling branches off the road….
I have a new respect for those who work in the geriatric field.
Mom spends a bit of time here, but went room to room commenting “thats new, isnt it?” to every piece of furniture, carpet or knick knack she spotted ..Noooooo, Ive had that since our first house, since the second house,,,,Noooo, that stained glass has been hanging in my kitchen for 18 years. yup.
She doesnt do steps, years of restless leg syndrome coupled with ” I dont want to walk” syndrome has left her legs weak and wobbley. But my bedrooms are upstairs. So I followed her up, impressed with her strength — she made it up there pretty well. I was concerned that she would see the pictures of her and my dad on the desk in the guest room and get upset, i was hoping that they would make her smile, but neither. she didnt notice them. She noticed the bookshelf, “is that new?” and the beleek lamp “thats beautiful” but not a glance at the pictures of the man she loved, who we lost 4 years ago.
Morning came early. I get up around 6 to take a walk and spend some time knitting before getting ready for work. she met me in the hall — I asked her to wait a second while I threw on a tee shirt and shorts, then we would get her down the stairs.
She didnt wait, of course. Im in the bathroom, shirt half on, and I hear the “babump”.
“Oh Cindy, I fell, I hurt my knee.”
Opened the door to my room and there she sat. perched on her butt on the landing — she either lost her footing or her knee went out. Thank God she just did a hard sit down, and didn’t slide the whole way down the stairs. the knee is fine, no swelling, we got her down the stairs without further excitement and she sits in the kitchen now, nursing a cup of coffee and a bowl of cereal.
I have a new respect for geriatric caregivers.
When you’re 5 Mother’s Day is a pretty big deal. You spread toast with jelly, add the card you made in Kindergarten and carry the tray to mom who is “sleeping” past her normal 5:00 am wake up call and serve her breakfast in bed. By the time you are 12, you go all commercial and depend on dad or another willing driver to take you to the mall where you expand Hallmark’s coffer and choose a card — which can range from sentimental ” best mom ever” to a farting “how do you put up with me” piece of poetry. And, if you’re lucky, dad throws in $10. so you can get her some flowers, or a piece of jewelry…In that strange period of time which marks the transition from high school senior to college freshman you see mom as a bit ( ok,a lot ) of embarrassment a good deal of the time. So Mother’s Day gets the traditional treatment, maybe you and your siblings take her to brunch ( which consists of 45 minutes in line, past the time of your reservation and room temperature bacon served alongside something they call scrambled eggs and a massive hunk of prime rib, or ham….) . During college Mother’s Day is, well its another Sunday after another “oh my God, the semester is almost over” Saturday night. You call, and if you can you visit, hoping someone is making bloody Mary’s or mimosas, you know, “hair of the dog…”
Then, you graduate. You get all melancholy that first year you have your own place, your own bills, your own, well, life. And Mother’s day rolls around and you make plans to spend the day with mom, and when you get there she comments on your hair, and those jeans and asks if you’ve brushed your teeth or paid your college loan…and you wonder, “What the heck is this lady doing? Trying to tell me what to do?” And you realize there are now two WOMEN in the conversation. You realize, she doesnt…so you suck it up.
And then, its YOUR first Mother’s Day. Glory of Glories you have birthed a child! Trumpets announce the arrival and you sit royally in your throne awaiting the massive parade of guests and gifts. NOT. Your husband gets you one of those ” 3 for $10.” bouquets at Acme, the baby pukes all over the one clean blouse that fits those massive breastfeeding boobs and you are exhausted after 3 hours sleep. Mom calls to ask when you are coming over and you secretly wish you were in Austrailia, with Alexander….
Years come and go and your children repeat the cycle. You are amazed at how wonderful that jelly toast tastes, how your children chose the most perfect card — Hallmark must have studied my life to write this one — You treasure the bacon and sing songs while you wait in line.
If you are lucky, and blessed, you will experience Mother’s day as a grandmother. Yesterday as my husband and I sat on the beach, breathing in the salt and the calm, I pondered this day, my 7th. as a grammy. I marvel at my daughters and their amazing babies — at their patience and work ethic and the different, yet equally effective lifestyle that they are living and raising their children in. I treasure the way my son stepped in and raised his Ava, on his own, after her mom walked out on him, and her, at 5 months. I laugh when I realize that I have had 6 grandchildren in 6 years, and now number 7 is on the way…
My husband sat a triad of gift bags on the counter on Friday. He and two of the grandsons had gone shopping for my Mother’s Day gift. Funny man — doesn’t he realize? My Mother’s Day gifts surround me every day.
Happy Mother’s Day. Enjoy the ride.