My recent post about seasonal changes, along with Mother’s Day, reminded me of my mom, and how much I’ve missed her lately. Seven years ago, during the last month of her life, we were able to take care of her in our home when she needed us the most. It was winter, everything else seemed to stop, and caring for her took precedence. I was so glad that Ben, age 10 at the time, was able to be there with us, spending time with her and caring for her. We took her to appointments, fixed her food, helped with her meds, and assisted her getting into and out of her wheelchair. Ben was able to be with her, see her pain, offer her comfort, and learn good caregiving. He also comforted me when I would cry because I knew my mom was dying. She was able to enjoy those last weeks with her sweet grandson talking with her, sharing his life with her, and helping her. The fact that he was home with us, and not away in school for long hours every day, gave us an extra bit of family attachment during this very difficult season. I will always be grateful for that time we had together.
One gift my mom gave me at that time was related to Ben learning to read. He was just on the cusp of figuring it out, but still hesitant and not quite ready to read independently. She, herself, was dealing with some language struggles of her own, partially due to meds she was taking as well as other brain changes during her eight years with cancer. I had talked with her over the years about my philosophy of children learning to read when they’re ready, in their own good time, and she really seemed to understand. During one conversation that winter, she shared her own feelings about how language development was often tricky business, and really needed patience and acceptance for each individual’s process. She was feeling this way because of her own experiences, but made the connection related to Ben’s language growth and readiness for reading. She encouraged me to be patient and supportive of his independent time-table for learning to read. I will always be grateful to her for that nurturing support.
Sure enough, a couple months later, while we were all still grieving my mother’s death, Ben made the needed language connections on his own, and started reading independently. She would have been so happy for him and this milestone.
My mom offered me many other gifts during my lifetime. From her, I learned simple pleasures like watching sunsets, eating watermelon on a hot day, keeping the kitchen counters clean, and folding warm laundry into neat piles. She shared with me her love of words, alliterations, editing, and precise grammar usage. She helped me learn compassion, the need for social justice, and the importance of thinking about life from other people’s points of view. She showed me the beauty of rhododendrons, and I have finally come to appreciate the benefit of deadheading them after they bloom. She’d be pleased.
I am grateful for all her good mothering, and I am grateful for having the chance to be Ben’s mother now.