Loving My Mother Through Her Last Years
I woke up with Johhny Cash on my mind. Singing cry cry cry…
I cry a lot.
I always have.
Not woe is me pity crying.
Crying with tenderness
Crying for the silver lining.
The deep heart connections,
The witness of another.
Right now I cry because I am “In it” with my Mother.
And … I cry because I am “not in it” with my Mother.
Aging is paradoxical…
On one hand, I want to give up everything and move in with my Mother and take care of her.
Ease her suffering.
Hold her hands.
Make her favorite meals.
And ask all the questions I have always had,
but somehow knew not to speak out loud.
And on the other hand, I want to never leave my home, my life, my love. I want time to stand still or go backwards.
I want my Mom back.
I want to spend hours listening to the stories she never shared.
I have heard so many of the painful horrific ones,
but I need the tender ones.
I need the soft memories that she stored in her heart,
so deeply buried and protected, no one could snatch them away
and tarnish their existence.
Because I want to know the softness of the woman who was so tough and strict and “all together”, I finally asked…
and she shared…
My mom plays the harmonica. She plays really well.
The last 10 years she played “gigs” as she likes to call them. She had numerous performances each month and had a lot of fun sharing her talent. I never knew who taught her to play. I just assumed someone had… Boy was I wrong.
She tells me the story of sneaking into her mother’s bedroom and stealing the harmonica off her Mothers dresser, then running as fast as she could out to the woods.
She had her favorite spot by the stream and she sat there all day playing one note over and over and over. Then the next. It took her almost a whole week of “sneak and play” but she got it.
She taught herself to play.
Her harmonica got her through many tough experiences.
As she tells this story, I cry.
I picture her as a little 6 year old child, in the woods making music by the water.
I feel her heart.
I feel her joy.
I see her innocence.
All superimposed onto her traitorous body and confused mind.
I see her sitting with her three kittens (another great story she shared): Mootsie, Tootsie, and Tar. I see her playing to them, and I see them rubbing against her bare, baby legs.
And again, I cry.
I love this woman.
I love her courage.
I love her tenderness.
I even love her anger as she screams at Father Time and his odd sense of right and wrong.
She is my Mother.
She birthed me and gave me life.
And I will birth her into the next one.