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Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Memories of My Mom

By Dorothy of Grammology

I really enjoy thinking about my mom. She died last October. I miss her very much. For years I blamed her for having too harsh of a personality. She believed in swearing and teaching us life was tough and we’d have to be prepared if we were going to survive what time might give us.

There were commitments and obligations to fulfill. Mom taught us the fear of God, guilt, and shame. These were things I detested and for years held against her. That is until I clearly understood how it had affected me and who I became because of my mother.

At 62, I’m a strong spirited, straight-talking wife, mother, grandmother and friend. Rarely does anyone walk away from me not understanding how I feel. And I always ask for the opposing feelings when feasible. I do listen and if necessary we talk about our feelings and how we can resolve them. I’m pleased to say in spite of my sometimes harsh personality I still have my same friends for over 40 years. They may describe me as cantankerous, mouthy, and often a pain in their butts, however, life friends we remain.

Back to my mom, if it wasn’t for her tough ways, I’d probably be a pathetic woman floundering with the why-me syndrome. Instead, I embrace life, survive tragedy, and am able to work hard while balancing friends and family. And of course enjoy as often as possible my precious grandchildren.

So dear mother and friend, today I think about all that you had done and given up for me. If I called to talk with you, or if you would feel the need to come to my home and stay, baby-sit or just be there for a visit. You’d always bring one or both of my sisters to help. Whatever the reason mom was there to give me that momentary safe haven and not leave until you were sure I was alright.

And somehow no matter when I called, you never made it seem like you were too busy. You must have dropped anything you were doing and just came. And, mother, the strangest thing is I do the same for my daughter, Sherry. I remember during her 22 years of marriage no matter what she needed, groceries, extra cash or just me for awhile I always got into my car and away I went to her home.

We still talk about it today, as the torch is passed and she is now doing the same for her children. She’s always there when they need her never too busy. And now she adds the care of her dad who lives with them and is in poor health. And all of the children pitch in to help which means someday that torch will pass again. The cycle of love and devotion will continue.

Mom this is because of you. That harsh yet loving personality that everyone wanted a piece of and which enviably sucked the life out of you as you gave of yourself. You always were there for all of us. Not just me, all four of your children. In addition to anyone in our family that would need you. And there were many. And you rarely said no.

And yet through the years, I moaned and groaned about your difficult persona. I complained about the nasty words you’d say to me as you were giving your opinion. Nevertheless, as I angrily walked away, I always knew what you thought, and begrudgingly many times, you were right. I could never admit it to you or myself.

And I was convinced I didn’t like you for giving me that guidance. Today I wished I’d taken more of it; my life could have been easier. I’m so sorry I didn’t spent more time with you. That I always thought I was too busy. And if I came see you, it always seemed like we got into some disagreement and I’d leave irritated and not visit for awhile.

What is it about mothers and daughters, granddaughters and grandmas? There seems to so much conflict to analyze. Who has the right and who doesn’t to step in and give opinion?

In our family we all seem to have something to say. Yet my two sisters somehow were able to set aside their feelings when mom provoked them. They visited my mom every day. Or spoke to her on the phone and rarely with harsh words.

They were loving and kind. I was irritated and confrontational. And today my mom is gone. There is no opportunity to repair my actions or the hurt it caused. And I can accept it, and remember my sister, Diane, saying someday Dorothy you may regret what you didn’t do with mom.

And I do. And I live with it. Because of my sister Diane I spent the last year plus before her death with her several times a week. As a family we split time between rehab and the hospital and her many doctor appointments. My sister Diane had to give up her job in the end to give my mom her needed care. My brother built an addition 25 by 25 room onto his house so she could live with him and my sister-in-law, Linda. While I might add they had converted another part of their home for Linda’s ailing mom as well.

Dorothy (Linda’s mom) and Helen, my mother, became best friends watching out for each other’s need. They died within six months of each other. All of us gave what we could to our mother. My sister-in-law, Linda, and Lisa, our third adopted sister, gave her time and love as well.

My sister Diane led me to the right place as my mom needed us more and more. We worked together as a family and our mom died knowing each of us was by her side. I’m so grateful I was able to give her time before she passed.

It was hardest on my brother, Henry, his wife and my sisters Diane and Margaret, as they were there daily giving her the best personal care possible. I was able to visit regularly during the weeks. I took her for hospital and doctor visits often with my husband Joe. I grew to understand mom more during that time and again thank my sister Diane who manipulated me into that position to give of myself to my mom before she died. Diane gave me a gift of memories that helped me deal with my history with my mom. My only regret; that I didn’t do it sooner.

If you ask my mother’s grandchildren who my mom was, they’d tell you a loving grandmother. Kind, gentle and giving to her last breathes. I’ll never forget my niece, Kristi, taking her Chapstick and putting it on my mom’s lips when they were dry. As Kristi looked into her gram’s eyes with a loving smile, stroking her hair and forehead with a yearning for mom to never give up and leave her. My mom’s family adored who she was, always keeping the family in line with her values. Never letting us change what she believed to be right and just.

So as I end this part of my thoughts regarding my mom, I hope this will make you think about your relationship with your family. What you might remember after they are gone. And what you might want to do if they are still here.

Be honest and constructive with your thoughts. Life is fleeting and when it ends you can take nothing back, nor can you fix something you broke. Do it now, live, love and act like there is no tomorrow because there may not be one.

Mom I miss and love you. You left me filled with values I use to survive my life and teach my family as well. I’m sorry I didn’t have more time to understand who you were and what a multi-positive strength you would have on my existence. Thank you for everything and I’m so glad my last memories of you were with me by your side, if only for a short time.

Diane, I am ever grateful you found a place for me in mom’s last year plus. It would have been a tough memory otherwise. You did the right thing and we can thank mom for who you are as well.

[EDITORIAL NOTE: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. Instructions are here.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 02:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Excellent! Both the writing and the content. This should be required reading for all mothers and daughters. Thanks for sharing what might have been difficult to share.

You have given me a gift this day. We are approaching the one year anniversary of my mother's death. I am proud of every ounce of me that is like my mother. You captured her in the sacrifices and lessons you learned from your mother. Not many can do so well as you have done here. Thank you.

This story happens to appear on my late mother's birtday. So much of what you write hits home.
Even when we change and grow, we still see so much more clearly after, don't we.

Thank you for sharing your innermost feelings with me tonight. Tomorrow would have been my mom's and my birthday, but, she is no longer with us. Your words gave me comfort and reassured me that my time with my mom was spent well even though it was a long distance friendship. Your mother sounds like a "salt-of-the-earth" kind of woman. You must be very proud of her. Thank you.

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