Precious

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I’m tired.  It’s hard to adequately describe or even summarize the last two weeks.  I chose not to write about it at the time because I wanted to live it, instead, and my time felt limited and stretched as it was.  As always, I tried to create more time by sacrificing sleep, with varying results.  

I’m tired but happy.  it was a great trip.  

I’m 49 and my mom is 78.  I think she’s past the age where she’s offended by having her age revealed.  I hope so.  I think she should be proud of how active and amazing she is.  As I watch people age, I see characteristics intensify.  A touch of bitterness in the twenties can look surly in the fifties and full-on curmudgeonly by the seventies.  Mom is sweet and kind and generous and happy.  I think there was a time—okay, I know there was a time—when I thought she was a little too happy and positive and not shrewd or aware enough.  Those can be nice words for jaded and world-weary.  Seeing my mom at this age, I think she has chosen wisely.  Yes, you can see the worst in people and guard yourself all the time…and fifty or seventy years letter, the results will show.  The results show in Mom, too.  

We walked a lot.  We took a daily walk and I lobbied for two.  We talked about how many steps she was registering on her Fit Bit (note—steps actually happen whether or not Fit Bits score them.  I know, surprising.) and her most-steps competition with my brother-in-law.  We talked about people we know from my growing up years.  We talked about moving back from Nicaragua and my daughter’s return to Nicaragua.  We also talked about her health.  

I am not superstitious, so I don’t believe talking about being in the later or last stage of life will jinx anyone.  I don’t know how much time Mom has left.  I hope a lot.  I miss my dad a lot, crazy and difficult though he could be.  He was also my biggest encourager in my first twenty-eight years of life and generous beyond belief.  Generous with himself as well as generous with his money and things.  I visited his grave while I was there, which of course does not mean I visited Dad, merely the place where we most directly remember the joy and grief of our life together.  

I don’t know how much time Mom has left (nor how much I have, when we come to it), but I’ve learned that these visits are precious and they are the best way I can love her.  I mean, yes, coming to her house and having her feed me and spoil me.  That’s how how I love her. That’s how I let her love me.  If she were bitter or cynical, that might not work.  But she’s joyous and hopeful.  So we walk and talk and work off the cookies and brownies she makes and I eat.  (And eat.)  I’m going back a little heavier than when I arrived and at this age I’ll have to work pretty hard to take those pounds off again.  But Mom visits are feasts, not fasts.  I don’t know how many I have left, but I tried to make that the best one yet.  

My kids didn’t come along this time.  I don’t remember the last time I visited Illinois and brought none of my children.  It’s a little disappointing for Mom not to have any grandchildren running around, riding my old bike, helping eat the cookies, showing her how much they’ve learned and matured since last time.  But they are all deep in the midst of life transitions, moving countries, starting new schools, starting new jobs (I have kids starting jobs. Wow.).  So I got Mom to myself.  

On this same trip, I heard a friend describe time with her mother and frankly, it sounded awful.  I’m not someone who has only Norman Rockwell fuzzy-warm memories of family time.  I get it.  Heck, I’ve been the cause of more than one unhappy family story.  But at this stage, when “value each moment; you don’t know how much time you’ve got” is no cliche, I’m unspeakably grateful for the mom I have, for the love we have for each other, and for a visit when, amazingly, I got to know her a little bit better.  

9 thoughts on “Precious

  1. Sherry Dearborn

    I am so glad to see you enjoying and getting to know your mom. There is always so much we don’t learn about parents. My mom has been gone four years, passing at the age of 88. I spent a lot of time with her, and I still have so many questions and wonderings. I miss her terribly, and so, I am delighted that you are consciously making time to know her. Blessings on you both.
    Sherry

  2. Lana Collister Black

    Mike, I have so enjoyed your writings over the years. I have been fortunate enough to remain friends on FB with Colleen and she will often share them as a proud sister. You have a gift, Mike. It is rare to find a writer who shares his thoughts so clearly and in a way that touches a cord of recognition in people’s hearts and minds. I experience that each time I read your stories. If you wrote a book, I would buy it! It was a joy to read about your time with your Mom. She has always been a special lady! May God grant you both more time together, and thanks for the stories!!!

    • Thanks, Lana. You well know I can’t really speak too highly of Mom. I probably owe her many more blog posts for all I’ve put her through, but of course she would neve think of it that way.

      Since you put it so directly, I did write a novel. I’d love to hear what you think of it.

      Thanks for your encouragement. It means more than you know. God’s blessings on you and your family!

  3. Chris Wells

    Your mom is one of those amazing women who always makes you feel well loved and cared for each and every time you meet her. Thank you for sharing your visit with her! Still enjoy your blog with all it’s character and reality.

    • Thanks, Chris. I’m glad so many people recognize this about her and appreciate her.

      And thanks for the encouragement. Keep that coming! Feel free to share it with others. The modest success hasn’t gotten to my head yet.

  4. Cindy Ries

    Yes, you are VERY blessed to have the mom you have. She is one of the most positive upbeat kindest persons one could meet. Spend as much time as you can with her. I lost my mom last month and I don’t regret any minute I had with her, only that I didn’t have more. Thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks, Cindy. I’m very sorry to hear of your recent loss. Having gone through it with Dad, I’m also conscious of it. Even when you’re “ready,” you’re not ready. Our dear friend Steph went through the same thing recently and it was a huge reminder to me.

  5. Christina Gunther

    Your mom, Pat, is such a lovely lady. I enjoyed her teaching a few home ec classes when I was younger and then knew her as Coleen’s mom after that. I have always appreciated that genuine and kind smile too. So wonderful to hear that she’s doing well at 79!

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