family photo
It’s been two years since my Mom died. It seems like she’s been gone a lot longer than that. Maybe because the last couple years of her life, the Mom I knew seemed to be fading away.

Although, my Mom hasn’t consistently had one way of being. The Mom I see in photos before I showed up looked adventurous, glamorous, fun, and happy.

Mom and car
Mom and Eleanor

My Mom is on the left. I love the dress and the pearls
(and the mischievous look).

Once I came on the scene, she still looked happy in photos. Doesn’t everyone? But she wasn’t so happy off camera.

Mom holding me

My Dad wasn’t so nice to her. Sometimes she retaliated by not being so nice to him. Sometimes there was yelling in our house. But mostly there was the “silent treatment”. Which was worse than the yelling.

Mom and Dad

After my Dad died, my Mom became kind of wild again. Well, as wild as you can get in your 60s. She did a lot of bus trips with the local senior citizens group. All her widowed friends went along. She was happy then. And it was the first glimpse I got of her quirky sense of humor.

But then her health went bad. She had rheumatoid arthritis that so disfigured her hands and feet that I don’t know how she even walked. She didn’t say much about it, but she was in a lot of pain. (I saw the wincing.)

Then she got a wound that wouldn’t heal and eventually led to her being in a nursing home because I couldn’t keep up with the care.

During the year that I spent running to her house one to three times a day to clean and bandage her wound, wash clothes, buy groceries, clean her house, and take her to her 3 doctors, my Mom, seeing how worn out I was, asked, “Do you think God is punishing you or me?”

While my Mom was in the nursing home, I wrote down some of her observations that struck my funny bone, such as:

Mom: “They keep making me walk backwards in physical therapy. Why?! I don’t ever walk anywhere backwards! I wouldn’t walk backwards even if I was on the road to hell!”

Mom: Talking about a priest that visited her. “He’s so nice and so good looking. And he really talked to me about stuff. Ya know, not just about God.”

Me and Mom: I asked Mom why they kept moving her ‘roommates’ out of her room at the hospital. “Are you partying too much? Too noisy?” I asked. Mom answered, “Well, I do have a lot of male visitors.”

Mom: “They brought Ella’s food and I started laughing. She asked me, ‘What are you laughing about?’ And I said, ‘Look at your plate.’ Ella says, ‘What? It’s mashed potatoes and gravy. What so funny?’ She couldn’t see that the two mounds of mashed potatoes looked like boobs. Those women have no sense of humor.”

Mom and me

And, of course, I couldn’t resist a poem. When my Mom visited our house about four years ago, she kept looking around, her mouth agape, and said, “I can’t believe it! I can’t believe how wonderful your life turned out!” There were tears in her eyes for cryin’ out loud. So…

Mom, sorry to tell you
happily every after didn’t last.
True love it appears
Is a thing of the past.
Good for today
As long as it’s fun.
But when there’s no party
Well, then we are done.
I can hear your cautions
Though I try to keep them at bay,
“Don’t smile too much,
Someone will take him away.”
Motherly wisdom
You’re not here to provide.
But it’s best you don’t see this
Change in the tide.
Don’t cry for me Mom
or shake your head.
I’m happy in my adventure
There will be no fear or dread.

I love you and miss you Mom.
My birth Mom turned 85 last Saturday. There was supposed to be a special birthday party with all her children that could make it there (four out of six of us) and her grandchildren. But Mom cancelled the party a couple days beforehand.

It’s really too bad because she hasn’t felt well and she’s been very lonely. There’s no real physical cause for the “not feeling well” except what comes naturally with being 85, what’s caused by her own constant anxiety, and the fact that she’s lonely. The party would have done her a world of good. But she’s done this sort of push-pull thing too many times. People are losing patience and went ahead and honored her request to not be there for her 85th birthday. Very sad.

She’s a much different lady than my 90-year-old Auntie that gladly received everyone on her birthday, not worrying about how she looked and realizing full well that as your life draws nearer to the end, you better see your loved ones as often as you can, and be someone people want to be around so they’ll come back soon. Good thing to keep in mind at any age.

I did write my Mom a birthday poem. It was difficult because we just can’t seem to connect emotionally. She’s so nervous that it’s hard to even get her to sit still long enough to carry on a conversation. She doesn’t listen, but kind of talks over you, too worried about the impression she’s making and what you think about her to focus on what you are trying to tell her. Another good thing to keep in mind — focus on others and listen.

You see, I do learn a lot of things from my Mom.


Birthday Poem for My Birth Mom
It’s been a long journey
To get to this place
Rocky and winding
Good and bad times to face
What was lost
Has now been found
To you and my family
I am lovingly bound
Happy Birthday Mom!