... I am my mother after all. I've seen that phrase in cartoons and on tee shirts ... conjuring up all sorts of negative feelings, criticisms usually ... "Good grief, you ARE just like your mother!!" When we're young, especially, we do not want to be anything like our mothers ... all we see are the harpy habits, the inadequacies, the faults, the annoying characteristics, perhaps even the shape or size. Oh no, we do not want to be like our mothers. I certainly fought any comparison to my mother it seems all my life. And I felt justified ... my mother was a MESS to be very perfectly blunt ... a complicated, unhappy, disturbed MESS!!! The only time I could remember her actually saying 'I Love You' when I was growing up was when she was in a drunken stupor. I think I always loved my mother, but for so many years I did not like her.
Before the confusion and dementia robbed her of so much ... her memories, the names of her loved ones, the person she was actually ... we were able to connect ... we forgave each other ... we liked each other ... we loved each other. My mother died almost four years ago at an Alzheimer's facility in another state. I miss her every day ... I wish that I could tell her how much I love her.
These days when I pass a mirror, I'm often caught off guard ... I will do a 'double-take' because I see my mother looking back at me. Little gestures, mannerisms, the use of a phrase or a look on my face and there she is ... sometimes younger, but more often she has aged, she looks tired. People tell me that my daughter looks like me (poor dear!) ... I don't usually agree, but I'm looking at a photo of both of us at this moment and I see us tilting our heads the same way ... our smiles look alike ... our eyes, although not the same color, we have the same 'lazy' eye. I tell my daughter often how much I love her ... I learned that from my mother.
The last time I talked to my mother was the Friday before our 40th anniversary. Our daughter and husband were giving us a 'surprise' anniversary party ... and it was a surprise, although we knew something was up, we had been 'requested' to come for the weekend. Saturday, August 6, 2005, we were sent to a movie ... (one I dearly love "Must Love Dogs") When we returned we were greeted by both of our children and their families as well as several friends ... it was wonderful evening. I usually called my mother on Sundays, but knowing that the cellphone reception was not the greatest at our daughter's home, I called Friday. I was trying to tell my mother our plans, but she could not remember my name at first. She was very confused and agitated. Apparently talking about the anniversary sparked a memory of her own. She remembered that she and my step-father would be celebrating their 50th anniversary on the third of September. Suddenly she was my mother again .. she laughed and retold stories about her 'children' going to her wedding! She remembered that Pops had bought her a new dress so they could renew their vows at the nursing center .... and the very last thing my mother said to me was "I Love You."
That Saturday night, we ate barbecue prepared by our son-in-law, we enjoyed a cake decorated with a reproduction of our wedding picture and opened a gift of a King size quilt that our daughter had transferred photos onto ... photos of our lives together ... births, graduations, weddings, vacations. It was the hit of the party as we would unfold more of the huge quilt to find even more 'memories.' The next morning, Sunday, the 7th I was sleeping in ... I do not drink alcohol, I was just being lazy, lying there half asleep thinking about the photos on that beautiful quilt ... marveling about being married for forty years ... it didn't seem that long, it was only yesterday that the four of us rode motorcycles in Colorado over rocky passes and camped in the 'Beverly Hillbilly pop-up camper' ... when the phone rang. It was about 8 AM, the others were up ... sitting out on the porch having coffee and visiting. A few minutes passed when I looked up at the bedroom door ... my husband and daughter were standing there ... they didn't even have to say what I saw in their eyes. I asked "she's gone, isn't she?" Yes ... my mother had passed away in her sleep, the nursing home staff found her in her bed that Sunday morning. My mother was at peace at last ... she had known who I was and her last words to me were "I Love You." Happy Mother's Day, Mother ... I love you!