I’ve had coffee, lunch or drinks with several girlfriends lately and the topic always comes up about my mom living with me. All four of my friends have lost their moms, one 20 years ago, the others no less than 10 years ago. And they all say to me, in one way or another, “I really miss my mom but I read your blog and I’m thankful.” And then they all apologize for, as they have said, “sounding horrible.”
It’s not horrible. It’s reality. And what they’re really saying is this:
“Mom, I’m so glad I don’t have to see you living with dementia, forgetting what you ate for dinner, what we enjoyed or talked about the day before, or who you voted for on Dancing With the Stars. Instead, I like remembering the dinners we shared, the things we talked about, and the fact that nobody watched Dancing With the Stars back then because none of us had to think about such ridiculous things as reality TV.
And mom, I’m so glad that I don’t have to see you walking down the stairs in pain, grunting when you get out of a chair because it’s such a struggle for you to get up, or refusing to go on a walk because, quite frankly, your legs can’t carry you. Instead, I’d rather remember you bounding down the stairs, relaxing in a chair because you wanted to snuggle up and read a book, or walking with me to all the stores in the Mall — because you could and we did.
And yes, mom, I remember you driving all us kids to the beach in your little Rambler. We’d stay from dusk to dawn. You were fearless. But if you were here today, you wouldn’t be driving, and you’d resent not having your independence. That would be heartbreaking for me to see. Oh, and when I picked you up to take you to the doctor or to dinner, you’d be telling me how to drive, when to stop for lights, and when to brake. Like you did when I was 16. That would just drive me crazy.
Mom, I like remembering you without a cane. Or a walker. Or taking high blood pressure medicine or cholesterol medicine or whatever medicine might be required these days. I prefer remembering you taking a One-a-Day vitamin. And that’s it. If you were here now, I’d worry about you cutting you pills in half, not taking the proper doses, stopping your medicine all together, or fighting with me about what the doctor told you to take and how.
That doesn’t mean, Mom, I don’t miss you every single day. It just means that my memories of you are of a younger you. That’s not so bad. And what I’ve also learned is that your loss could be far worse. I could have you here and you might not remember me.”
So to my girlfriends I say:
“We are all given what we can deal with. Sometimes life hurts, sometimes it’s downright awful, but most of the time it’s damn good. Let’s all be thankful for our experiences in life. It’s what makes us who we are. And you’re right, your mom would drive you crazy when she tells you how to drive. Just ask me about that. I have a few good stories.”