My mother is gone. Don’t misunderstand she is still alive but the woman I knew as my mother has faded away. The Cancer has taken away her strength. The Cancer has taken away her mind.
Growing up my mother was always my rock. She was my soft place to land. It wasn’t easy growing up in my home. My father loved us but he was very hard on us. It wasn’t until after he passed away that I had the light bulb moment and realized he was bi-polar. When he was good to us he gave us the world. But when it was bad, it was very bad. During those times my mother looked out for us choosing to divert my father’s anger away from us and onto her.
She was a workhorse! She painted and cleaned apartments, she cleaned out the storage rooms they bought and sold, lifting heavy items, she even worked on the van most of the time when it broke down.
She was a listener and a giver and now she is fading away while I watch.
I enjoyed having my parents over for dinner and playing a few hands of Canasta. Dad was a real competitor like me so we always made mom and Tony partner up while dad I kicked their butt… Oh the fun times. She was a great cook; she always cooked those big Sunday dinners that you would expect with all the sides. She made some mean Chicken and Dumplings and Meatloaf!
It is so hard to watch her slip away. The once strong woman now has to depend on me to pick her up and take her to the bathroom. The once strong woman now has to struggle to get the words that she is thinking out and very often the ones she speaks is not the ones her mind is trying to say. This morning she told me she didn’t need to paint her breath. I never figured out what she was trying to say with those strange words.
My heart longs to be able to sit with my mother and have one of the conversations we would have had a few years ago, talking for hours about something as simple as the current books we were reading. But all we can talk about now, all she can maintain in a conversation are short answers and short thoughts. My heart breaks for those moments.
Cancer is an awful disease. It not only kills but it robs you of your life while you are still living. Don’t take your relationships for granted. Enjoy your friends and family because you never know when you will lose them.
I look at my mother and then at my daughter. I want to make sure I give my daughter a ton of moments to remember, a ton of conversations and love and friendship. Because I realize now that at the end of my life those are the moments that will be most precious to her.