Did your mom have a mammogram yesterday? Call her, ask her how it went, offer to do the healthy breast dance with her or to sit with her while she waits for the results. Let her know you remember the skinned knees, ear aches, toothaches, bruised egos that she walked you through. The phone calls the night before you had a big test in college, the trips to the store for just the right interview outfit. You call when you need a babysitter, or a couple bucks, you call when your job or your spouse or your child is making you rethink your whole life plan, you call when you need firewood or to borrow the truck. You call when you need a recipe or a craft supply. Call your mother and ask her how the mammogram went. Tell her you love her, and that either way — you’re there. Call me. Im home.
Back story: my dad died just over 2 years ago. An ugly, “go not quietly into the night” death, in a nursing home with my mom and I at his head, my husband and two brothers flanking his sides. I was angry, almost violently so, at my mother. She had made me leave dad in a nursing home when I wanted to bring him and her home with me. She had made me move him out of my home less than two weeks before his death. She had made me break my promise to dad that he wouldn’t die a public death. I was angry.
And I have remained angry. I speak with mom frequently but avoid visiting. I ask her to come live with us, but am secretly glad she doesn’t. I rely on my one sober brother to cart her around, take her to the doctor, visit her regularly. Love her. I have been unable to get past the anger, the resentment, the pain of watching my dad die that way, and it is very easy to blame her.
Then when I have resigned myself to the fact that she is a bitter old woman who thinks only of herself and doesn’t give a damn about family or responsibility or love, she goes and blows me out of the water. She offers to do something so selfless, so giving, so “dad” . She does so without hesitation or stipulations, no ‘buts’ or retreats. She returns to the woman that I vaguely remember from my youth. My mom. And I cry like a baby, a cathartic cry that has been held in for the past 2 years. And I feel the anger literally wash off my shoulders. And I can sense dad smiling.