My mom – a lifetime of love
By Trish Finlay
It was late January when moving in with my mother became a necessity. She’s 81, I’m 51, but sometimes in life we have to do what we have to do.
Only it wasn’t my mother who needed the help. I was living alone and had a hip issue and couldn’t walk. So with nothing but an overnight bag, I settled in.
My old bedroom, that used to have an attitude, KISS posters on the walls and clothes all over the floor, now had simple painted walls and a stackable washer and dryer. Time quiets angst. Being there took me back to the days of staying home sick from school but I was always okay with Mom right there with tissues and tea.
She’s part Betty Crocker, part DIY modern woman. She cooked every meal for me and brought them to me on a tray. She had a knee replacement in October- true to her strong nature; she healed despite the difficult surgery. Nothing stops her.
I was in bad shape when first admitted to the floral couch at Mom’s Rehab Center. Each snowstorm my mother would put on her red winter coat and head out. She shoveled and sprinkled rock salt so that I wouldn’t slip if I had a doctor’s appointment. I tried to tell her not to but you don’t tell my mother not to do something. I’d leave the room for a minute and she’d be in full winter gear and determination on her face.
“Mom, please don’t. What if you fall?” I pleaded.
“I won’t fall,” she grumbled.
“I like to shovel”, she insisted.
One time I yelled at her from the door to, “get in the house, NOW!”
But she’s stubborn and looked up at me with furrowed brow and rosy cheeks and said, “I know what I can and can’t do.” She shooed me away. She’s from the era of not making a scene at all costs. She looked at me just like I used to look at her when she was telling me what to do as a kid. But I couldn’t exactly punish her for not listening to me.
When she came in- she looked so fresh and young. Beautiful, aging youth. I wished I were the one helping her. She’d be in the house less than 10 minutes when I’d hear the mixer going.
She also loves to paint- everything in sight! One day she was sitting across from me flipping through her Better Homes and Gardens when a page grabbed her interest- I saw her wheels turning. She decided to paint the old brick fireplace white.
My mother doesn’t wait. The next morning when I got up half of the fireplace was painted. She knew she took on more than she could chew- but wouldn’t dare admit it. She had a stool, rags, paint cans and a goal.
She’s hooked on crime shows and had her own routine before I came in. So I’ve become accustomed to “Law and Order SVU” and “Criminal Intent.” We end the day with “Judge Judy” and an early dinner.
We laugh every day and despite the reason I am here, I think we’ve both enjoyed this time together.
I couldn’t love her more. She makes me laugh with her constant wheels in motion and cry because she’s taken care of her family her whole life. With time to think these days I’ve learned to really see her.
Here is what I’ve learned:
What I once thought of as mean and strict as a child- was love and guidance.
What I once saw as cheap –was frugal and wise. Everything she has was through her own doing. Her careful way with money takes the worry out of the inevitable someday. She did that for us.
When I was little and someone said I looked like her, I thought it meant that I looked like a middle-aged mother and didn’t like that at age 10. Now- there is no higher compliment.
What I once thought of as outspoken- well, I was right on that one!
She’s not perfect but she is pretty amazing. She’s bright, strong, stubborn, neat as a pin and self-reliant.
Who I once saw as “just my mom” is the most remarkable woman I know.
If the day ever comes that she needs me, I can only hope to be half the woman she is and even though I’d be glad to help her, I hope that day never comes.
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