A Challenging Mother’s Day

We’re coming up on Mother’s Day once again. It’s true, as you get older, time flies. It seems that it’s only been a year since we last celebrated Mother’s Day. Anyway, I’ve been pondering about mothers. It’s a subject that should interest all of us, since all of us have, or had, a mother.

I have mixed feelings about my own mother this year. I have written before how she has been a special person in my life (see it here), and I will always be grateful for what she has done for me over the years. But it’s been a hard year for Mama.

She has been slowly (sometimes it seems quite rapid) losing touch with reality for several years. Consequently, she has moved from independent living to assisted living to memory care and finally a nursing home over the past few years. My brothers and sister have all been supportive of taking care of her needs, and my youngest brother has gone the extra mile of tending to her day-to-day requirements.Mama and Me

However, today was kind of a new low. Sharon and I went to the nursing home where she lives (a very nice place) to wish her happy Mother’s Day and give her a flower. She is typically in the TV room slumped over and sleeping with her head on a table. I think they try to keep her out of bed.

Today she was at the nurses’ station sleeping in her wheelchair. The nurse was joking with her apparently trying to liven her up. We greeted Mama and took her to her room so we could visit.

She was not happy to see us and kept asking why we were there. I tried to hand her the flower vase, but she wasn’t interested. In the past, I’ve always felt like she knew who I was even if she couldn’t call me by name. But this day was different. For the first time, I asked her if she knew who I was.

She replied, sounding quizzical, “You’re my old man.”

I don’t know if she was confusing me with Daddy or if she thought I was just some old man off the street. I explained that I was her oldest son, but it didn’t seem to make any sense. Then she pointed to Sharon who has been in our family since 1974 and said, “Who’s she?”

It wasn’t that long ago that she actually called Sharon by name. It is evident from the time we arrived that she was in a bad mood and didn’t want any company.

Since having a visit was out of the question, I simply asked if she wanted us to leave. When she said it was up to us, there seemed to be little reason to stay.

Last weekend, we learned that a friend died unexpectedly in her sleep. She had not been sick or suffering from any illness. When her husband went to wake her up, she was dead. She was an older woman who lived a good life. She had a loving husband and family, and they were all stunned by the unexpected loss.

Sharon and I have talked several times this week about losing someone without any warning. It would be tough. You would have to deal with the feeling that something more needed to be said, but it was too late.

Other than Enoch and Elijah in the Old Testament, every person who has ever lived has died. It might not be true that the only certain things in life are death and taxes because many people find a way to avoid paying their taxes, but the part about death is correct. Not only do we face it for ourselves, but it also looms before us as a reality for all our loved ones.

So, how do you want it? Suddenly, unexpectedly like my friend last week? Or, slowly, painfully like my mother is experiencing?

I’m thankful that I don’t have to make a choice. As we were talking about it this week, I told Sharon that the one thing I know for sure about death is that it will happen at the right time. If I’m to believe that God is in control, then whenever I die will be the right time. Perhaps not from my perspective or Sharon’s perspective, but we don’t have the information available to Him.

We will celebrate Mother’s Day tomorrow, and it will be a great day. I’m still surrounded by mother’s who deserve all the love and appreciation we can muster.

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