My Mom was there for my first breath and I was there for her last.
Four years ago today I had to say goodbye to my Mom, my best friend and my partner in crime. I dedicate today’s Blog to her. The strongest woman I know and it might surprise you why I say that.
Yes, my Mom had all the traits of your typical strong woman. She held her family together. She fought tigers for her children (at least a couple of neighbors), and she loved us no matter what we did. All of these are commendable but the one trait that stands out for me is the simple fact that she lived her life as her true self. She spent her last days having nothing to prove to anyone and yet she was still the same Mom I had grown up with, laying there responding in the exact same way she did her entire life.
Let me back up a little and give you some pre-story.
My Mom is what you would consider a “firecracker”. She was small, feisty, sharp witted and as mean as they came. But she was mean with a smile on her face and a twinkle in her eye and no one and I mean no one knew she was being mean to them. It was the oddest thing I have ever seen and I don’t think I can explain it. You would have had to seen it yourself to understand. Let me try and describe her in another way because this is not painting a good picture of her. She took an animal personality test one time and her results came back as a shrew. She was so pissed about this and kept taking the test to try and get another answer. Funny thing is, no matter how many times she retook that damn test she always came back as a shrew. A small, hairless, blind, mean poisonous rodent. Now that I look at this I don’t think I made her sound any better BUT that was my Mom.
In her defense she had a be a shrew. She grew up poor, the youngest of five children and fought for everything she got. She was married to my Dad who was not a easy man to live with. She basically raised me and my sister on her own and took care of her parents until they passed. She didn’t have it easy and she fought back and survived.
We lost my Sister back in 2008 to cancer. Losing my sister nearly broke my Mom. My Dad passed in 2012, they had been dating since she was 15 and were just a couple of months shy of their 60 year wedding anniversary. My Dad took care of everything and I mean everything. She learned to pay her own bills, lived by herself for the first time in 78 years and even learned to pump her own gas. I took a strong woman at that age to start learning all over again. I remember my Mom as the woman who spoke her mind, she wasn’t afraid to defend her family and again, just had a wit about her that kept you on your toes.
Back to the story.
My Mom passed away at the hospital and this was by her choice. She didn’t want to go home to die and she didn’t want to go in an assisted living center either. She picked the hospital and that was that. That choice was an easy for me, considering the insurance company kept trying to kick her out, but what they didn’t know was, I was a daughter of a shrew. I fought, I went to the top, I talked to different doctors and I got my Mom her wish.
So as the end neared I had hours and even days of just sitting there with her. I had a lot of time on my hands to think about everything. Her life, her journey, our adventures and basically house she lived. It was one afternoon after a nurse had come in to check on her that I realized that she was still the same person. Still the same Mom. So I started watching closer when the nurses would come in and sure as shit that woman was the exact same person in death that she was in live. I think that live lesson is one of her best lessons and she didn’t even know she was teaching it. How amazing is it that on your deathbed you could look back and know that you had been true to yourself. True to who you really were on the inside.
That got me to thinking and looking at my own life. Was I living by the same rule? Could I honestly say on my deathbed that I was true to the real me? I would have to say”yes” to this. I might not have been very true to myself during my drinking days, but I can honestly say now that I live by my Mother’s example.
I could look on this anniversary and be sad (well I am a little sad) or I could look at this and think back at how lucky I am to have been raised by that woman. How lucky am I that I got to spend those Saturday evenings crammed into a rocking chair with her eating ice cream. How lucky am I that I was raised by woman who showed no fear when protecting her loved one. How lucky am I that not only was I raised by her but I also look exactly like her.
I will leave you will one more thought about my Mom.
I remember one Saturday I was sitting there watching her sleep and suddenly she opened one eye. With her piecing green eye she looked straight at me and said “You know I’m going to haunt you…..right?” My answer was simply “Yes”. I knew she wasn’t kidding and I knew I wasn’t done with her yet. You can ask either one of my children and they will swear up and down that I am her. I act so much like her that they look and me and say hello to her.
So here’s to you Mom. I know you are not too far away. All I have to do is look in a mirror an there you are.