I believe most moms know what unconditional love feels like. Moms are selfless. They are fiercely protective, loving nurturers and comforters, patient teachers and caregivers, role-models, and our own personal cheerleaders. We never stop being their children no matter what our age. As Mother's Day approaches on May 10th, I'm inviting you to share your mom's story. Everyone has a story, and it doesn't have to be about extraordinary circumstances. Tell me how your mom inspires you. I would like to choose, from those stories, one of these wonderful women to receive a complimentary facial. Please submit by May 8th and let me know if I have your permission to share her story on my website.
Do not forsake your mother's teaching.
( Proverbs 1:8 (NIV))
(Thanks to a friend for sharing this Bible verse)
My Mom's Life Story
Tenacious - persisting in existence, not easily letting go or giving up. This is the word I would choose to best describe my mom (Marion). She was born in 1926 and was the eldest of three children. As I was growing up, she would remind my sibilings and me often of the tough times her family suffered living through the Great Depression. Some of her fondest memories are of her dad cooking on Sundays and then taking the family for a drive. She loved playing ball in the alley behind her house. Her favorite flower is the lily of the valley, a cluster of which we have transplanted from my mom's childhood yard to our yard where they still bloom today. She learned to cook and bake from her dad and aunt. And she baked the best apple pie. My mom wanted to be a nurse or a decorator when she grew up. But circumstance required her to take care of her ailing mom and she ended up having to quit high school, leaving her dreams behind. She was married in 1948 and by the time she was 26 years old she had three children. Then in 1953, at age 27, she contracted tuberculosis and was quarantined for two years. She begged the doctor to allow her to stay at home because she was convinced if she went to a sanatorium that she would die. The closest contact she was allowed to have with her three small children was to blow a kiss to them where they stood behind a gate at the entrance to her bedroom. She was told if she recovered that she would never be able to have more children. In December of 1961 and again in September of 1964 she proved the doctors wrong and had two daughters. Then in March of 1971 for the final time, at the age of 44, she gave birth to me. This proved to be a more complicated delivery and the doctor asked my father the following very difficult question, "We don't think we can save both the mother and the child, whom do you choose?"
Thankfully through the Grace of God my mom had enough tenacity for the both of us that day.
Even though my mom was not a nurse she was destined to be a caregiver, as she raised six children then cared for my father through his two battles with colon cancer. Then again she was by his side in the final stage of his life until his death in 2003, at the age of 85. In 2007, at the age of 81, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer which required a lumpectomy but thankfully the cancer had not spread. Later that year she had an incarcerated hernia that required emergency surgery and a NG tube was placed down her throat through her nose emptying the contents of her stomach. While my family and I waited to see if she were going to pull through, she had a mild heart attack. After an angiogram the cardiologist recommended open heart surgery. The doctor led us to believe that with the condition and location of her blockage the prognosis was grim without surgery. We let her choose, and my mom decided that she was not ready for another major surgery given the tough recovery she was experiencing. Two years later, in 2009, she started to show signs of dementia. This coincided at a time in my life when I was feeling so broken, and I convinced myself and my husband that we should move in with my mother to take care of her. In 2011, she was officially diagnosed with vascular dementia.
What I now realize, after five and a half years of living with and taking care of her, was that I needed her. She was my refuge. She changed the direction of my priorities. This is what she has taught me about how to grow old. She has taught me that people want to be heard. That it is harder to listen than it is to talk. It's harder to observe than it is to see. It's harder to learn than it is to teach. It's harder to receive than it is to give. It's harder to trust than it is to doubt. It's easier to escape than it is to confront. It's harder to feel than be numb. It's easier to turn inward than ask for help. It's harder to be a we than a me. It's easier to hurt someone else than be hurt all by yourself. It's easier to hold on than let go. It's easier to place blame than accept responsibility. It's harder to say I'm wrong than I was right. Hopefully I can live these invaluable lessons. Most importantly she let me be who I am. I am myself around her and it is good enough. She made me realize life is short. She inspired me to pursue my dreams.
Taking care of my mom changed my life for the better no doubt. And buried under all my seriousness were remnants of how to appreciate life like we did as children. To enjoy the pure beautiful simplicity that life has to offer. Dew drops on flowers, rainbows, sharing a candy cane with your big sis, the magnificent colors of the sunrises and sunsets, the warmth of summer on bare feet, feeling the breeze in your hair, making someone smile and laugh. For these gifts I will be forever grateful
My beloved mom has taught me it also takes a lot of guts to grow old. Through all of her numerous health issues, mini strokes, surgeries and multiple falls she has rarely complained. She is always so grateful for our help. She has proven time and time again that she is tenacious. Her inner strength is immeasurable. My mom has accepted that her life is completely out of her control. She has placed the utmost trust in me to be her voice and advocate. As I finish this newsletter it is turning out to be a sad morning for me. My mom seems more confused than normal, it seems she has almost forgotten how to cut her food. And as we talked about her eighty-ninth birthday approaching in July she has seemingly forgotten my dad's birthday. Their birthdays were a day apart, July 6th and July 7th. The 7th was my dad's birthday and my mom's favorite number. She is now so vulnerable, living her life in reverse, and it breaks my heart. It's been eight years since the doctor recommended heart surgery and she has proven them wrong again. But the full circle of life is inevitable.
Our life on this earth is but a fleeting moment. What we do with it is mostly up to us. But please, please don't miss the opportunity to get to know your mom, really listen to her.
This is an excerpt of a book called The Gift of Years - Growing Old Gracefully by Joan Chittister. I think this book would make a great gift for any occasion.
"Then will come the twilight time, that space between here and there, between here and eternity.
We begin to understand things we never even contemplated before, like the meaning of time, the preeminence of beauty, the power of the touch of a hand.
Then, little by little, the old cares begin to dim. Nothing seems so important today as it did yesterday. All those things, too, we know---all those things which once consumed us with their demands----will fail to grip us anymore. They will also one day disappear into the cauldron of life and be melted down into nothingness.
"It's time now for surrender to acceptance. Perhaps for the first time in our adult lives we will go into a period of total dependence. We will be asked to accept rather than to resist, to welcome instead of to question, to believe instead of doubt.
There will be conversations yet to have. This is our last time to be honest, to be loving, to be open, to be grateful, to be patient, to be lovable and loving and loved.
This is the time for melting into God. The words that come now will be honest ones, the hopeful ones. This time will be the culmination of all the learning of all the other years. The veil between eternity will begin to tear and we will begin the slow walk through it, ready, open, thrown upon the heart of God.
We know now that life is whole. The first part was good, so good. why would we doubt for a moment that this half will be anything less?
Now the mystery is about to reveal itself. Now the time is complete. Now is only the beginning."
The Gift of Years - Growing Old Gracefully