What You Can Do for Mom on Mother's Day
- Friday, May 03, 2013
There are some things that only time and perspective can teach you. If your mom is still alive (or you are blessed with a relationship with another woman that is important to you) I want to share some things that I am learning only through retrospect.
My sister passed away suddenly in 2000 from a heart attack. To say it was unexpected is an understatement. She was 53 years old and her death rocked our world. We had just adopted a sibling group of three children, making us a family of seven. We were overwhelmed to say the least. My sister’s death shattered our normalcy but forced us to accept the realities of this life.
My parents went to live in a nursing home in 2007 and my dad passed away in 2009, the day after our Valentine’s Day wedding anniversary. In 2010 my mom passed away at her assisted living facility after wandering outside in freezing temperatures. The day she died? Christmas Eve. The gift God gave us to let us know she was finally at peace? The most perfect snow on Christmas Day, in a NC city where it rarely snows before the first of the year.
We recently attended the funeral of my son-in-law’s grandfather. I was overwhelmed by emotion. I cried in the church. In the car. After visiting my son at college. Again in the car most of the way home. Wracking sobs drawn from the depths of my grief.
Why now? Because for so many years I have been the strong one. After my sister died my parents needed to rely on me for both physical help and emotional support. My niece needed me to be her family, her rock, her substitute mother. My adopted kids needed me to be the constant in their struggles to learn to attach and believe they could trust again. My dad passed away and my mom needed my strength and presence. When my mom died, settling her estate and dealing with a lawsuit allowed me to postpone the grief. I was “needed” elsewhere.
Today I allowed myself just to feel. To remember the funerals. To feel the pain. As much as I believed I had done everything I could to be present and strong, I realized if I could go back there are some things I would do differently. Words I would say and moments I would change. I can’t live in regret, but I can tell you what I’ve learned from these painful life circumstances.
See your mom (or sister or loved one) as an individual. She is a woman with a past, a present and a desire for a future filled with hope. She is more than just your mom. She has dreams and goals and memories to share. Ask her specific questions. Look at her through eyes that see her afresh. Don’t miss an opportunity to share your heart with her. Her advice and words of wisdom will echo in your life for years to come.
Tell her she is pretty. Compliment her. My mom did not take a compliment very well. At some point I probably stopped trying. I should have tried harder. She was very stylish and always looked put together. I should have looked into her eyes and told her I was proud when people said I looked like her. I gaze at her pictures now and realize how truly lovely she was.
I am blessed to have a daughter who also looks just like me! I promised myself that I would never turn that gift into a negative. God has taught me to model humility and gratitude by simply saying thank you!
Tell her you are proud of her. When I left my son at his college after this specific funeral, I told him I was proud of him. He held me and said he was proud of the way I raised him. Yes, I cried even more. We want to hear that we have made a difference.
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