I Miss My Mom
Monday, December 12, 2011
My mom passed away three weeks ago. I'm not sure why yet why I'm talking about it or what I'm going to say. I think I just feel like I need to acknowledge her before I go on talking about diet/exercise/health as if nothing has happened. I'll just see where it leads me.
My mom was born 77 years ago in an old wood house in a tiny little town. She was the youngest of seven kids; the next youngest, and her only still-living sibling, is a sister seven years older. Mom was an unexpected "accident" and always felt that her own mom didn't really want her and was in fact "embarrassed that people knew she was still having sex at her age." But her father, she always said, had the knack of making her feel like she was the most important person in the world to him, and when he died, she felt like the only person who ever loved her was gone.
She married early, a fella who, for whatever reason, lied to her about some very important things that crushed their relationship early on. Their marriage was annulled, right after my oldest sister was born.
Five years later, she met my dad... on a blind date. :) He was on hiatus from the Air Force after four years and was deciding whether or not to go career. They fell in love lickety-split, and after knowing each other only a month, he decided to go career, and she suddenly had to decide whether to marry him or let him go. She married him! :)
They wanted to have more children right away, but it took five more years for my other sister to be born... then just 22 more months for me. We three were very much intended and wanted by both of our good parents, and we have always known it. That is such an amazing gift.
Everything wasn't always peaches and cream for my folks, but they loved each other and stuck it out through thick and thin. They celebrated their 53rd anniversary this year.
About 25 years ago, my dad became rather health conscious. After smoking for most of his life, he up and quit. He also quit drinking beer, only drank a little wine with meals, and started eating more carefully. He kept fairly active, bowling in leagues and with my nephew (who was the only grandchild living close by), doing the yard work, etc. He is still fairly healthy today.
My mom, on the other hand, began suffering from rheumatoid arthritis and other ailments that eventually forced her to stop many of her activities. She continued smoking (rather heavily) and didn't really look after her eating, drinking, or activity habits. She relied on prescription drugs to manage her various issues and wouldn't consider any natural remedies or treatments. Some other issues over the years, such as a broken leg that didn't heal right, delays in surgeries that forced her to stay off her pain meds for extended periods, a broken hip, and significant loss of muscle tissue, forced her to become even more sedentary.
I know it frustrated Dad a great deal that Mom seemed unwilling (and eventually unable) to make an effort to help herself, especially since he was trying so hard. He could have given up; some people would. But he loved her so much! He hated seeing her waste away, but he stuck by her and took care of her until the end. She died at home, with him right beside her.
I spent the two weeks following her passing with my dad and sisters. My dad shared some very deep and tender feelings about her that I don't think I ever knew he had. I always knew he loved her, but I just hadn't seen that tender side. It was a comfort to me, knowing how unloved she'd felt at times in her life, to realize how deeply he had loved her. I hope she knew and understood it, as well.
While I am still grieving and missing her, I am grateful that her physical pain is over. She suffered for such a long time, and we all felt helpless to give her any relief. And I will forever be grateful that I was able to make two trips to to see her earlier in the year (traditionally, it had been just once a year at Thanksgiving). She will always be with me and continue to influence my life for good.
I thank each of you who are reading this for the sympathy and kind thoughts you are sending my way. Please know they are appreciated.
Please also let this story remind you how important it is to continue to look after your own health, not just for your sake, but also for the sake of those who love you and who want you to feel and be the best you can be, and who want you to be around a long, long time.
I love you, Mom.