Monthly Archives: August 2014

My Mama

Sarah Noble (adjusted v2)So for all my avid readers–all five of you–you must have been wondering where I have been for the last couple of months. For starters, my son got married three weeks ago so the last six or so months have been spent scurrying around doing mother-of-the-groom duties (rehearsal dinner, finding a dress, rehearsal dinner, finding a dress, finding a purple dress, daughter hates the purple dress, daughter finding the new perfect dress in twenty minutes a week before the wedding, rehearsal dinner…)

But scurry or not, the muse has just not been sitting on my shoulder inspiring me to write. No muse.  No blog. I refuse to succumb to bland perfunctory entries to stay afloat.  If I lost you, I will miss you but at least I didn’t bore you with some trite everyday sort of dribble.

Part of my time of late has also been spent with my mom. Her health has been failing so I have had more than my usual trips to visit her.  It is so difficult at this stage in her life, and mine, the role reversal of mother and child. After an eight hour drive, I arrive at her door wanting to be held in her arms and feel safe, like I did as a little girl but she is fragile and her hugs are warm but she is weak.  I long to talk to her and ask her advice on wedding plans or chat about the roadside stop where I lost my keys.  And sometimes, we can do this and sometimes we can’t.  Her memory is failing and she works hard to focus.

It breaks my heart to watch her struggle; to search for words she used to teach me.

She is smart and she knows she is confused or has forgotten something that used to be second nature. I ache seeing that in her eyes. Walking is nearly impossible but with her trademark determination she pushes on, literally, refusing to succumb to a wheelchair and willing her walker and legs to get her where she needs to be. And usually she wins. Brave face held high.  A smile for each passerby. Teaching me how to maintain your dignity with a mind and body that wants to destroy it.

Two of my friends lost their mothers recently.  Really fine and special women, not only to their families but to our community.  Their obituaries reflected their individual spunk and personal passions. One husband was quoted as saying he “honestly couldn’t remember a bad day” with his wife. I thought my husband probably wouldn’t be able to say that about one week with me, much less a lifetime of marriage.

I left my last visit with my mom thinking about how her obituary might read. I had written my father’s with a newspaper deadline and a heavy heart.  I thought maybe thinking about mom’s while she is alive would be easier.

So as I drove across the country, I started dictating some thoughts to Siri; what I might want to have others know about my mom after her death. I started with the usual preliminary details and quickly launched into memories of my mom–the beautiful, loving and big-hearted woman that she is. Then midway through the second paragraph, I was surprised by unexpected tears, remembering the mom I grew up with, not the one I’d just left. The reality that she is slowly slipping away wrenched my heart and I finally felt the pain that had been slowly rising to the surface with each visit to find noticable decline in her health.

Mom is 91.  She has lived an incredibly long and lovely life.  She was married to my father for 64 years, raised three great (I happen to like us all) kids, worked as an executive secretary to put us through college but also spent many hours of her days with the luxury of doing what she wanted.  She loved birds, flowers, sitting in the sun at the beach, and adored, and still does, every second spent with her seven grandchildren. She had equal affection for “the elderly” and grade school children and spent countless volunteer hours reading to them both.

Those of you who had the good fortune of knowing the mother I grew up with, will remember her striking Elizabeth Taylor good looks mixed with an open and fearless heart.  She was charming, spunky, a bit of a flirt who loved to laugh.  At herself and a good joke. In spite of her present struggles, much of this woman still shines through. Her invincible spirit is just that and something I admire most about her.

Reflecting on this and so much more of my life with my remarkable mom, is a bittersweet mixture of love and gratitude combined with a few regrets and “what ifs.” My thoughts drift to “I wish I hadn’t said that” or “I wish I had said more.” But lucky me, I still can.

And I am immensely grateful for that.