This is the first year I’ve been able to spend Mother’s Day with my mom in… well, longer than I care to think about. It wasn’t a particularly spectacular day. I took her to church, as usual. I opted not to take her out for a meal today, since I can no longer take her to fancy places and crowds are problematic with her mobility issues. Besides, we just went out for dinner on Friday after her follow-up with the cardiologist. So I brought her home to have lunch with the other ladies, while I ran to Trader Joe’s to pick out flowers. That’s our Mother’s Day tradition, if we have one. I’ve sent her flowers every year for the last decade.
When I stopped by with the flowers after lunch, I saw that the living/dining room was already filled with flowers and Happy Mother’s Day balloons – one for each of the residents. I arranged the flowers in a vase I’d brought and set them on the dresser in Mom’s bedroom. I found the perfect card, one which said everything I wanted to say. (Belatedly, I’m wishing I had taken a picture of it to post here.) In essence, it expressed my gratitude for all the things she did for me when I was growing up and my happiness at being able to repay even a fraction of that love and care to her now. She loved it. And the flowers were a hit, even though I was joking with the staff that the house was starting to look like a flower shop.
(Speaking of the staff, I really feel blessed to have found this place. They are so attentive and so sweet. When I came to pick up Mom for the doctor on Friday, she asked me if I had a nail file because she’d broken a nail. One of the caregivers immediately brought out her nail clippers and file to take care of it, offering to give her a manicure the next day. When I brought her back after dinner that evening, Maria answered the door with a warm smile… and Mom hugged her. In that moment I knew for sure that I’d found her the right home.)
I spent the afternoon with her. We played Scrabble with her pal Georgia, which was a lesson in patience for both of us. Georgia didn’t know how to play and didn’t seem to grasp the rules well — she kept wanting to play words upside down, or make a word that didn’t connect with other words, and we had to keep reminding her to wait her turn. But at least it got them to exercise their brains for an hour instead of just being parked in front of the TV. When we finished the game, Georgia retreated to her recliner and I took Mom to her room to look at the flowers. She stretched out on her bed for a nap and I sat beside her, holding her hand.
At one point, she looked up at the portrait of her and Dad (taken when I was in high school) that hangs on the wall beside her bed. She commented on Dad’s smile in the picture and said that she lost him too soon. “It’s always too soon,” I said. “But you had a lot of good years together.” How many? she wanted to know. “Let’s do the math,” I said. We worked out that they were married for 44 years before he died. “It goes by so fast,” she said. Then she wanted to know how old he was when he died. I told her that he died eleven days before his 82nd birthday, reminding her of how we had birthday cake for him while the family was gathered for the memorial service. This led to talking about her birthday coming up next month: 86. I told her we’ll do something special. She rolled her eyes and said “Turning 86 is nothing to celebrate.”
“Hey,” I said. “Celebrate that you’re still here, that you made it through another year. Even if YOU don’t want to celebrate that, I do.” She smiled and squeezed my hand. “I’m sure glad that you are here,” she told me. “So I guess I can understand that you’re glad that I’m still here too.”