Mother’s Day 2012–Mother’s Day 2013

“A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials heavy and sudden, fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts. ” ~Washington Irving

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Last Mother’s Day was supposed to follow the traditions of previous years—a Mother’s Day brunch with any family members who could make it.  Since the family is scattered from coast to coast, that is never easy.  We planned to have brunch at a local golf course, one of my mother’s favorite places.  We had reservations for my mom, my husband and me, my oldest daughter, my niece and her husband and two sons.

My mother had several TIAs during the previous year beginning on her birthday in August.  Ever since her first one, she had a visiting nurse service and physical therapist nearby.  The morning of Mother’s Day she called me for help with something.  After I got there, she began to slur her speech and then giggle uncontrollably.  I called my husband, my daughter, and her nurse, unsure what to do.  Her nurse arrived within a few minutes, took her blood pressure, checked her reflexes, and told us she was able to go to brunch.  I thought she should go to the emergency room, but her nurse reminded me that other visits to the ER had not resulted in any treatment for her.  She was just sent home after a few tests.  So we went to brunch.  I don’t know how much she was aware of during the brunch.  I helped her get some food and she tried to eat.  She had some vision problems due to previous strokes, so she couldn’t find her food at times.  She seemed to be alert and was enjoying being with her family.  I thought at the time that it might be the last time we could be together for brunch.  I was right.

I still wonder if we had skipped the brunch and gone to the ER, if she would have felt better later.  I don’t know.  She had to be hospitalized a few weeks later with more problems, and then she was not allowed to go home after that.  I didn’t have a bedroom on the first floor for her or a full bath she could use.  She needed round-the-clock nursing care and she didn’t have enough money for that.  I spent days visiting assisted living facilities and memory care units.  No place would take her because she didn’t have enough money for more than a few months of care.  I was told to find a nursing home for her.  She was transferred to the nursing home a few days later and has been there since last May.

This Mother’s Day my husband and I are going to take her lunch from one of her favorite restaurants.  We will sit in the courtyard if it is warm enough and share lunch.  No other family members are able to join us.  I feel so lucky to still have her in my life after all she has been through in the last year.  She has been a wonderful mother to me, and I treasure all she has taught me about life and love.

I know this Sunday there will be mothers who will spend the day alone.  I know there will be women who can’t become mothers who long for children every day.  I know there are sons and daughters who have lost their mothers and won’t be celebrating Mother’s Day the way they did in the past.  It can be a sad and lonely day.  I hope that anyone who still has a mother will find a way to show their love for her.  It doesn’t have to be with a gift.  Maybe just a hug and some meaningful words will be enough.  A brunch is nice, but it’s just an activity.  Maybe every day should be Mother’s Day, a day we show our appreciation for all mothers give to their children, even after we become adults, because motherhood never ends.  My mother will continue to be a part of my life even after she is gone, but I will cherish this Mother’s Day with her because I am afraid there won’t be another one.  It’s enough that today I will be with my mother for one more Mother’s Day.

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Love Letters

“If you must reread old love letters, better pick a room without mirrors.” ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic’s Notebook, 1966

Love Letters

Today I found the letters–
the ones I wrote to you and you to me–
tucked in a box of mementos in the basement.

Words we wrote when we were young and so in love
(although if one reads between the lines,
he might sense the uncertainty, the hesitation
hiding there in the midst of those sweet words).

The letters telling a story surely not ours
but about some fictional characters,
a story written by a romance novelist,
a story expected to have a happy ending.

Doors were opening for us then,
like lures pulling on our hopes,
doors we thought would still be there
after we created a future together.

We did not know then
that the future waiting for us
was not the one we wanted.
No, we were too young to know
what the ending would be later,
later when it was too late for dreaming.