I was beginning to feel the Christmas spirit and had visions of baking several cookies this year and decorating the house up right. I wanted our last Christmas in our home to be one that our family will always remember. I was on track, I had one batch of cookies done. I had plans to make two others this weekend. Husband promised to get the tree up and our single strand of lights up on our porch.
Then two nights ago the phone rang at 10:30. A phone call in our house after 8pm is never a good call. My father was on the other end. My mother had passed away.
If you are a follower of my blog you know that Mom had been battling Alzheimer’s for many years now. The last 2 were the worst. She recently had lost the ability to walk without falling and hurting herself, then even more recently stopped swallowing without choking. We knew her time was very short but we were selfishly hoping that she would make it through one more holiday for us.
My friends, not within the blog world, who knew my Mother would remember that my Mom and I had a rather rocky history. At a very early age she and I always seemed to battle each other. My parents went out a lot, they had many friends. My sister and brother are 5 and 8 years older than me, so most times I felt alone. She had also said some rather mean things to me while I was growing up and I really do not remember her hugging me and ever saying to me that she loved me. I know that she did love me, only because it is impossible to me to fathom a mother NOT loving their child unconditionally; but I know that she didn’t like me (this is a fact – since she actually told me that herself). Our family always went camping in the summer and we always went on a family vacation somewhere (as long as it could be via the RV). I have a lot of funny memories of my Mom on these many trips. As the animosity grew between us when I reached the teen years, I just stopped caring what she thought of me. That certainly didn’t help our relationship any. I made some bad choices in my early twenties and endured some pretty awful years out on my own. My parents though were there for me when I needed them – I thank God for the extreme love of my Father, he has always been the loving soul in my life. At one point I had to return home to them battered and broke. They took me in with no questions asked. Even when this put them in danger. This was when my relationship with my Mother changed. We were never best friends but we were finally able to do things together and even enjoy each others company (most times). I guess we had a better understanding of who one another were now. Perhaps I had grown up.
When my Husband and I married and then had our Diva was when I realized completely the love a Mother has for their child. At my daughter’s baptism I actually apologized to my Mother for my attitude toward her all those years ago. We were starting to lose my Mom a little bit even then.
Over the years my Mom’s memory got worse and worse. My Dad took her to doctors and had scans and medicines but nothing helped her. My family remained in denial for a few years. During this time my Husband’s Mom passed away from Alzheimer’s so I saw first-hand the symptoms, signs and the sadness of this terrible disease. We tried to convince my family to get affairs in order and to really make more effort with the doctors to treat her, but our pleas fell on deaf ears. My Father took such good care of my Mom until the day came when she would shift between knowing him and not knowing him and then escaping the house and wandering away. We had to then have her hospitalized and then placed in a nursing home. There was no planning for this in place so my Mother had to go to a state run facility, not one of those nice Alzheimer facilities where they know how to make the quality of life sweet for those patients (they are self-pay and very expensive) but rather to a place where the staff just try to get through their day and pay no attention to the fact that these individuals are someone’s family member and deserve respect and dignity. It is here that she drew her last breath.
I’m glad that the last time I saw my Mom I had taken Diva with me. My Mom never opened her eyes and she remained curled in a fetal position. I just held her hand and told her about all the memories I had of her when I was growing up and about the things she used to do for fun. She smiled and squeezed my hand (still not opening her eyes) when I said I had to leave.
The viewing and funeral were very nice. My Mother looked beautiful. That made it even more difficult for me. To see her lying there looking the way she would have looked had she dressed herself and done her own hair, as if she were going out with my Dad, made me realize that she was way too young for this fate, it didn’t seem fair. All their friends were there paying their last respects and they were so full of life, talking about how much fun they used to have with my Mom and how my Mom loved a party and traveling so much. They showed us pictures of their grandchildren. I saw my father, who now looked so much older to me and sad. He kissed my Mom for the last time. He lost his best friend, his true love. Mom is at peace.
As a Mother myself, I need make sure that my children have as many happy memories to reflect on as I can give them. So I will return to my mission of making this Christmas one of the nicest memories of Christmas for them that I can. This season is about Christ's birth and since my Mom is now celebrating this Christmas with Him, I want to decorate and celebrate and rejoice too.
Rest In Peace, Mom. I Love You.
1938 - 2008