Tag Archives: mother-daughter relationships

Good Memories vs Current Realities

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.”

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Watch Your Language!

When I attended the University of Rhode Island (many years ago), I was a journalism major. Writing was my passion, but I also tried my hand at radio and TV. It was not to be. Unbeknownst to me, I had an accent. A Boston accent. You know, as in “Park the car in Harvard Yard” — with none of the r’s actually pronounced.

Eventually I left RI and moved to Westchester County, NY, where I was teased relentlessly about my accent by my fellow reporters. I worked hard to get rid of it. Or at least loose enough of it so I didn’t get ribbed every time I opened my mouth.

Then a move to Raleigh, NC, in 1988. Living in the south changes your pace. The language is slower, a relaxed cadence that I soon picked up. I even found myself greeting people by saying, “Hey” instead of “Hello.” And what the heck, I can throw in a “Y’all” with the best of ’em.

I thought I had done a pretty good job of eradicating my accent. And then my mom moved here from RI. In with us. So I listen to her thick, RI accent 24/7. We tease her because one of her favorite expressions is: “That’s the good part.” But it sounds like this, “That’s the good pot.”

Yesterday I heard myself say, “I’m going to go take my showa.” Instead of shower. And I thought, “Oh My God, I’m sounding like a Yankee again. Mom is rubbing off on me.”

It’s interesting to me how you can revert back so easily to your linguistic past. But before I think more about it, I’m going to go enjoy a bowl of chowda for lunch.

You’re Not the Boss of Me

So last night my mom got mad at me for bossing her around. I know that makes me sounds like an ogre. But here’s the deal.

Before mom moved in, she often sat alone day in and day out, watching TV. She didn’t have a social life, didn’t get any exercise, and she ate frozen dinners. Her lifestyle (or lack thereof) was one of the reasons I wanted her to move in with us. At least if she was close by, I knew she’d be eating right and taking better care of herself.

After months of conversation after she moved in, I finally convinced her to go to Independence Health. This is a physician-owned senior center that focuses on helping seniors live healthy lifestyles. She socials, exercises, learns new things (like Zumba!), and eats a nutritious lunch.

I also convinced her to get massages every other week, and get her hair cut and colored every five weeks. I bought her a recumbent bike for Christmas so she could exercise her legs every day.

Last night’s argument started because I scheduled a massage for her on a Sunday because we couldn’t take her for her usual Wednesday appointment. So she said she wasn’t going to go. I said she was. She said, “You know, I don’t like you bossing me around.”

I went up and hugged her and said, “Mom, I’m a horrible person and a bossy bitch. I make you go for massages, get exercise and spend money on getting your hair done. Instead of being mad at me, you should thank me.”

She started laughing. “Thank you,” she said, quietly. And under her breath she added, “And you’re right. You are a bossy bitch.” I love my mom.

 

Cheers!

So my good friend asks me: “What’s it like having your mom live with you?”

Me: “I used to like to drink. Now I need to.”