Friday, June 05, 2009

Mother Love

I would never have predicted in my turbulent 20's or my self-
absorbed thirties that this day would arrive when I would appreciate my mother for the sweetness she bring to my days.

When I left Boston last July for my Irish adventure, my mother was still shuffling around only with the aid of a walker, still inching her way back to her fully-abled, active life. Today, she is walking and driving and swimming as before her accident--making plans, taking pleasure, on the good days--and that is wonderful to see. But she is not fully recovered, and a bit discouraged: she is starting to feel old. Or maybe she is fully recovered, and she is getting old. Either way, I notice she is increasingly poised for 'winding down' and talking the talk of going.

On the question of recovery, she decided to ask the surgeon who put her hip back together last June if her aches and pains were normal.

"You know, most people your age are dead," was all he had to say.

She laughed, of course, and laughs again each time she shares the story. But however comic his response, it offered no conclusion or solution.

It's true: most people are dead by 84. And though my mother has come close twice, she is still very much alive. She is enthused about a new condo she might buy up here. She's contemplating winters in Florida. She's discovered T'ai Chi and is excited about what it promises for her flexibility and all-around well being. She raved about the tape I bought her for Mother's Day to support her practice:

"It's perfect! So easy to follow. It's better than the classes at the Y. I'll use this every day!"

Which prompted my suggesting she have my brother make a back-up copy for her. "VHS does wear out," I said. It was a lively conversation, and it did my heart good to hear her so happy, so forward looking, so full of life. She returned to the topic when we spoke a few days later.

"You were awfully optimistic the other day," she started.


"You said I should have Steve make a copy of the tape. How long do you think I'm gonna live?"

"Well, your sister's about to turn 90!" was my first thought. My last living Aunt was about to be feted for her milestone birthday. But just behind that thought was this one:

You'll live as long as you say you're going to live.

I'm keenly aware that Life follows thought; I know she has every say in this matter. And I always hope she'll opt for thoughts of staying. But since the accident, she doesn't feel great. Incentives to stay, everyday enjoyment are no longer a given. I never had aches and pains. Your father's gone. There's not much here for me...: these are the thoughts of her not-so-good days, and the ones she'll leave by.

I understand, of course. And I wouldn't fault her for choosing to go. But I do hope she'll postpone it awhile. I do hope she's still healing and will feel increasingly better. I hope for her incentives to grow. Because for my part, it would be ever so lovely to enjoy this sweetness a good while longer.


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