Today marks twenty-four years without my mother. And while we didn’t have the best-friend kind of mother-daughter relationship–those were not in vogue at the time–I miss her.
When she was alive, I talked to her every day with the exception of my young adult years in Los Angeles when long distance costs to Maryland kept it to weekly. And then I became engaged to a man who planned for us to stay in California. Where my mother was concerned, the plan went over like a fart in church.
As a veritable tug-of-war ensued, she resorted to emotional blackmail and, eventually, I bent to her will and broke off the engagement.
So even though I had a life in California, and Jim was the kind of man most mothers would dream their daughters would marry, I left Mr. Young Republican and life on Easy Street behind me.
I moved back east and made another life for myself. It was damn hard–and continues to be. But God has a purpose–a plan.
We didn’t know that she only had ten years left to live, but He did.
During those last ten years together, we packed a lot of living in. And in her last eighteen months, she became part of my oldest son’s daily life. Nobody could feed John rice cereal quite like Lori.
And then she died a few days short of her 63rd birthday. She never got to meet my other two sons this side of heaven. Never saw the loving husband and father her son-in-law became. Never saw the fine young men we’ve raised.
But from my birth to her death, she mattered. And she knew it, too.
On the night she was rushed to the hospital, I slept blissfully unaware of it, but dreamt of a painting she always loved.
The next morning, when I got the dreaded call from my dad to come now, that painting was hanging in the hospital lobby. Divine message? Yes, I believe so.
And yes, we were at her bedside when she crossed over.
That’s the thing some people don’t seem to realize. You only get one mother. You never get another.
Three cases in point:
- Last Christmas, a young woman at our party refused her mother a selfie of the two of them. I looked on, thinking, You are so lucky to have your mom here. Smile and take the picture.
- My friend, Lucy, is having heart-attack symptoms because she longs to spend time with her adult son and his family. (And yes, there is such a thing as a heart attack called Broken Heart Syndrome–I fear she’s well on her way to it.)
- Another friend, Jo-Ellen, has two adult sons by her ex-husband who mirror the disrespectful behavior of their father. One son lives out-of-state, the other twenty minutes away. She spends about equal time with them. Hardly any time at all. She misses her sons, but especially her grandchildren.
And these are only three situations in my small part of the cosmos. I imagine this is a rampant problem across the board. Perhaps a generational thing?
If that’s the case, let me go on the record here. If my sons treat me this way once they marry and have kids, I will go full-out Church-Lady on them:
Ah hell, on behalf of church ladies everywhere, there’s no time like the present:
We are told God defends widows and sets the lonely in families (Psalm 68: 5-6). We serve His purpose by serving one another–and honoring our parents. And in doing so, God will bless us.
I was lucky to have my father in my life for almost two decades longer than my mother. I promised him I would never put him in a nursing home, and had him move in with me during the last five years of his life–challenging years due to his declining health.
So News Flash Grown-Ass Kids: If you still have your parents, consider yourself blessed. Family is forever. Friends come and go. Don’t be selfish. Take the damn selfie. Go on a family outing. Make plans…and keep them..
Pissed about some perceived injustice on the part of your mother or father? Get over yourself. I forgave my mother, for among other things, thwarting my marriage to a man who would have given me a very comfortable life–and an opportunity to write full-time long before now. So put on your big-boy or big-girl pants and suck it up, Buttercup.
And Here’s Another News Flash: When you slide into your own grave, you will be able to count your true friends on the fingers of one hand. Some people don’t even have that many. But family extends through the ages. They came before you and they will come after you.
And so, back to my question about whether or not this is a generational thing…
The whole tradition of the millennials spending all their time with friends rather than family–even celebrating Friendsgiving instead of Thanksgiving confounds me.
Has the erosion of the traditional family in our culture brought us a new type of cold war between the adult child and the aging parent? And what of the grandchildren hanging in the balance between the two?
The thing is, time spent together adult-to-adult is the least you can give your parents. You may even be surprised how cool it is to relate to your parent in this new role–my dad became one of my best friends. No subject was off-limits between us. And besides unconditional support, we cracked each other up.
The sad thing about my two friends who are going through this virtual separation from their sons and grandchildren is that they’re not even angry. They are depressed.
And that’s a whole lot worse because rage is anger turned outward. Depression is anger turned inward. And that shit can kill you. Especially as you age.
Whenever possible, families need to get their asses back in church. And if your adult kids won’t go with you, go by yourself. Ask God to restore your family, so that your grandchildren can come to know Him.
And this New Age bullshit about “As long as I’m a good person, I know I’ll go to heaven” and “I can worship God without going to church” makes me wonder one thing. “How’s that working for you?” God is always the answer. God gives us his Word.
Besides, I’m quite sure the Word has a whole lot to say about matters of family and raising children and relationships between adult family members. Here are just two of those bits of wisdom:
From Matthew 19: 5-6 “‘Jesus answered, “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”…
From 1 Timothy 5:4 But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God.
Yes, a man leaves home and clings to his wife. But he doesn’t just move and leave no forwarding address. He keeps his mother in his heart, his prayers, and his life. And even if miles separate them, technology is at our fingertips during our every waking hour. Use it.
If you haven’t told mom that you love her lately, pick up the phone or drive over to her house and give her a big hug. You’re lucky to have your mother. You’ll never get another.
I may not have had a long run with my parents here on earth–but we packed a lot of memories into the time we had together. And together is the operative word.
Blessed be the tie that binds. God bless you and may you be a blessing to yours,