My sister and I have sort of a running joke. Our 86 year-old mother sometimes acts her age and complains too much about her aches and pains or obsesses over the sad state of our world today. She will ignore what her own physician says but will follow the advice of Dr. Phil or Dr. Oz. Her hearing is not as good as it used to be and conversations can be exhausting. We often lose our patience with her, call one another in exasperation and ask, “Have you heard what YOUR mother said today?”
After all, Mom has always been young, proud, beautiful, strong, well-informed and quick-witted. WE CAN’T HAVE HER ANY OTHER WAY. Such is the challenge with aging parents. Mom took care (takes care) of us, and now we struggle with the heartbreaking reality that someday soon we may need to take care of Mom. It’s life’s cruel joke. Mom, who bandaged our knees, held our hands, kissed away our tears, solved our problems, needs us now more than we need her. Perhaps she always did.
I think about my own children and grandchildren and how my heart aches at times when I hear of their misfortunes or disappointments. I think about how my heart soars when I hear about their triumphs and accomplishments. But mostly I cherish the simple times; the quiet moments; the unspoken love we share. Surely Mom must feel that way, too.
As Mother’s Day approaches, I will continue to ask God for patience and a gentler spirit when dealing with Mom. I will try to show more interest in what’s happening in her life and remind myself that she is still relevant. I will listen – REALLY LISTEN – and I will let her take care of me (even if it means worrying about something that doesn’t really need worrying about) and I will try to take care of her the best I can.
Mom deserves more than our love. She needs us to be present: right here – right now! She deserves dignity, respect and kids who will let her be a little crazy (?) at times. Maybe we’re the crazy ones. Come to think of it, I’m pretty sure my sister might be.