I thought that I should buy a special journal to write down thoughts, feelings, and anything else that came to mind about my mother. It has been over two weeks since she died, and I feel her loving presence with me still. I realize now that this blog is my journal.
To say that my mother was an amazing woman doesn’t begin to describe her–she was funny, acerbic, warm, complex, intelligent, beautiful, generous, kind, loving, welcoming; however, she didn’t suffer fools gladly, and she told it like it was. I learned a great deal from her, more than I think she knew. While I miss her physical presence in my life, I know that she is near me.
There are of course times when only tears lighten the occasional heaviness of my heart; however, there are far more times when I feel invigorated, light, happy, and full of hope. I cannot be Mom, but I can carry her legacy forward. I find myself reaching out to others more than ever. My usual aloofness seems to have taken a vacation; I find myself smiling more, talking to people more, sharing more and feeling an overall lightness of spirit. In the main, I feel like putting myself out there a little more than I used to.
I know that the inevitable swing of emotions will overtake me from time to time; that’s how these things work. Although it has only been since early September that I began helping Dad with Mom while she was in Hospice care, it seems a longer time. So many things changed; so many things lost importance to me while caring for Mom. She was my whole focus during that time. I woke up each morning with her on my mind, and when I laid my head down at night, she was all I thought about.
It has been months since I read a book cover to cover; me, who plows through books like wildfire. I can’t seem to keep my mind on what I am reading these days. It has been months since I picked up my ukulele to play, and I haven’t spoken to my teacher about setting up more lessons. I haven’t been able to make jewelry, either–I just can’t seem to get my head around it nor get any enjoyment out of it. Oh, I know that things will change as time moves ahead; I will go back to some things, drop some things, and start other things.
But there will always be a place in my heart that longs for my mother’s voice, presence, touch. I remember Dad saying that while he had lost his wife, I had lost my mother. I miss hearing her voice, her laughter. I miss caring for her, I miss calling her each night, I miss seeing her. But somehow that place in my heart seems to be filled with her presence.
I will repeat here the advice my grandfather gave me years ago to you all–“have no regrets.” What I have taken away from this experience of helping my dad care for my Mom in her final illness are these things:
- Say the things you keep meaning to say to someone you love but haven’t yet
- Try to stay focused on the person, not on their complaints or grievances
- Help all you can, but don’t sacrifice all your time and energy – you can’t be effective unless you are feeling your best
- Don’t be a martyr; it serves neither you nor the person you care for
- Rest as much as you can
- Don’t berate yourself if you can’t do it all
- Accept help
- If you feel mean-spirited and are afraid you will blurt out something you regret, do this simple exercise: keep your tongue firmly placed behind your front teeth