Mother’s Day

May 10, 2020

I have a confession to make. I didn’t remember it was Mother’s Day! I woke up this morning (actually it was 1 pm because I stay up all night) with a dull headache. I felt slightly depressed and disoriented. This is unusual for me. My first thought was that the quarantine was finally getting to me. But it’s more than that. It’s the grief I feel at losing someone I cared for so many years, plus the unnerving new reality of the pandemic — self distancing, quarantines, many weird dreams, anxiety about what the future holds in store, and many new risks to onset each day just as I’m just trying to live what was once a somewhat normal life.

I was jolted with the news it was indeed Mother’s Day by two text messages, one from my minister who was with us the night Mom died, and the other from a good friend from work (I worked with him for almost 20 years before I retired) who said he was thinking of me. He lost his mother very suddenly in New York State about six weeks ago. My minister said she was thinking of me on this first Mother’s Day since Mom died. It will be four months on May 28. It was emotional hearing from them. I usually think of Mother’s Day as falling on or about May 15, so that’s one reason I forgot.

In one of my text message replies, I wrote this, “Its getting quieter and quieter in the house, just as Mom’s presence is becoming more palpable.” I use this term for a reason. It means a feeling or atmosphere so intense as to be tangible or real. I feel it is real and tangible because I do feel her presence. I can’t point to something psychic, but to me it’s real.

Everywhere I go in this large house I find something that reminds me of her. There’s her favorite wooden backscratcher I bought at Dollar Tree. Her weekly pill container. How many nights did I carefully count out her meds and put them in there? I couldn’t look at that any more so I threw it away this afternoon. I’ll root around in the freezer for something to eat for supper and find half an ice cream sandwich in a plastic bag which she didn’t get to finish. That happened again just yesterday. A few days before that I found a Mother’s Day card I gave her years ago. I always prided myself on my cards and used to spend ages in the Hallmark store trying to find just the right one. She appreciated them so much. One of my biggest regrets is that as her dementia got worse, I got out of the habit of giving her a Mother’s Day card. That was a big mistake. My advice to anyone reading this who still has their dear mother is to never stop giving a Mother’s Day card, even if she doesn’t recognize you any more. Mom didn’t have Alzheimer’s, but even though there were many occasions near the end when she looked at me and asked, “Who are you?” most of the time I’m convinced she at least recognized me as her son, or at least as the person who was with her all the time.

There are other things that remind me Mom, and these include personal items of hers my sister and I have not discarded yet, and some of I don’t know if I ever will be able to throw out. The very thought is upsetting. I already have one box of items. The pandemic has precluded my sister from flying here to help clean out the house, and I can’t quite bring myself to do it myself nor would I want to. My sister has to be here when that’s done.

I wrote this a couple of weeks ago and I would be hard pressed to write something that expresses as well how I’m feeling tonight:

“Whenever I look at a framed copy of my favorite photograph of Mom smiling at me in the upstairs hallway, I feel a surge of emotion, sometimes brief sadness and grief, but more often than not I feel happiness and the power of her love and her continued presence with me…”

“Happy Mother’s Day, Mom! I love you and miss you terribly.

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3 weeks ago

hugs I’m glad you can feel her presence. Be gentle with yourself.

3 weeks ago

@snarkle  I am trying to do that, but regrets linger and the grief is always there.  I feel stronger, and more confident in myself, that I was able to keep her at home until the end.

3 weeks ago

@oswego As far as I can tell, you should regret nothing. You did a heroic job and I know she is proud of you for your dedication and love. Gently.

I can’t say that about my mother. She abandoned me 43 years ago and except for a few visits never looked back. She sees me as a mistake.

3 weeks ago

@littleavocado  Hardly know how to respond to this other than to say I’m so sorry that happened and that  the scars linger.  But my own experience, and yours, too, I feel sure, has been that adversity only makes us stronger to meet whatever comes along in life.

3 weeks ago

I thought about you yesterday as I  realized that this would be your first Mother’s Day without your mom being physically present. You were her heartbeat for many, many years. She will always be a part of you. Her love will make you stronger as you walk side by side in the coming years.

This pandemic has greatly impacted our lives.  It has also given us time to pause and reflect upon what is really important.  As we step into each day, may we always remember to continue to embrace the lessons learned from the challenges we encounter in our lives.

Take care, my friend, and stay well.

3 weeks ago

@adrift  This is so beautifully expressed, my friend.  I am definitely stronger because of Mom and knowing that I was able to take care of her, not perfectly, and mistakes were made, but I stayed the course and did my best.

And I’m already embracing the lessons of this pandemic, particularly that life is a gift, we must live one moment and one day at a time, and we must have faith and trust in God.

3 weeks ago

I can’t believe it’s been 4 months already (almost). Isn’t it funny how fast things change? If you could get out and enjoy nature and the company of other humans, you’d probably start to feel better. Dang this virus!

3 weeks ago

It’s good that you threw away the pill organizer… she no longer needs it, as she’s no longer in pain, so, only reminders of the good moments should remain with you.

I had a slight chill when I read about the ice cream sandwich… in my freezer, I still save the cup with the remainder of the last scoop of chocolate ice cream my Mom was eating – including her favorite long spoon in it.

You’ll clean up when you clean up – cross that bridge when you’re ready. I STILL keep my Mom’s closet space! Intact, in the exact order she had it… and her bookshelf. Same, exactly as she left it.

3 weeks ago

@thenerve   That is amazing about us both saving the ice cream.  The first time I found one of those left-over ice cream sandwiches, I threw it away, but the second time I kept it right where it was.  The pill organizer reminded me of the wrong things.

 

 

3 weeks ago

I’m so sorry for your loss, Oswego.  Time will ease the rough edges but you will never forget her, nor the love you shared with her.  I lost my father in 1995 but I still sometimes hear a song or read something & think”Oh I’ve gotta share this with Dad.”  But it’s not a sharp pain as it was immediately after he died, and now the memories are wreathed in fondness more than pain.  A virtual hug for you, and remembering that “This too shall pass” although it doesn’t seem so now, & won’t for a long time to come.

3 weeks ago

@ghostdancer  This is such a beautiful and thoughtful note.  Thank you!  You are right.  It will take a long time for the most intense grief to subside.  All I have to do is think of that last night and the flashbacks are quick and unbearable.  But as I mentioned in the entry, when I look at that special photo of her with her beautiful smile, I feel enveloped in love, a mother’s love.

 

 

2 weeks ago

Painful memories in time will be replaced by happier ones.  It sounds like your mother was a wonderful woman who has left you with many heartwarming memories.

2 weeks ago

@trunorth   Thank you! She was indeed my greatest blessing.