The Queen Mother is not doing so well.
Really, really, not well.
As in, it's past time for me to just get a grip, and admit that she will be gone soon.
It's just that... sometimes I still can't believe the woman lying there in that bed is my mom.
My Mom was always so full of life and energy and spit and vinegar and ornery, ornery, ornery-ness.
Even today there was a glimmer. When I got ready to go and I leaned over to hug her – to hold those wispy, fragile, bony shoulders – and to kiss her cheek and press the side of my face to hers, and to tell her “I love you,” it was there.
Her eyes found mine for just a moment.
A breathy whisper.
My heart broke, even as it filled to overflowing.
I realize that I only knew a part of her, knew her only for one segment of time. I realize that other peoples' memories and interactions with her were different than mine. But she was... is... my Mom. We weren't “Gilmore Girls” crazy (although we had our moments), or BFF's. She's my Mom.
My role model.
Sitting at her bedside, watching her breath, wondering what she's seeing that's just beyond my sight, my mind swirls with memories and my heart fills with emotion.
Even when she became “confused” she was still Mom.
“She's good at faking it, ” I told a friend, “You could stop in to visit her and ask 'Do you remember me?' and she'll smile and say 'Of course'.”
“She was a good Midwesterner,” he said, smiling.
What a wonderful description! She was! She is a good Midwesterner.
“She always had a smile and a kind word for everyone,” said a different friend years ago. I'm sure there are those who would disagree with that assessment, but for the most part, it's true. This was even before Mom got confused, when it was just too hard to get her in and out of the car to take her all the places she would have loved to go, to see people she would have loved to see.
The staff at the nursing home said the same thing. She was always smiling, always teasing. Just today the Hospice nurse, who has only been visiting for a couple of weeks, said that when she asked Mom how she was feeling, Mom would say she was fine and then ask “How are you?”
Do I remember to do that? Do I listen to the answers?
She was always willing to help. She helped coach my little league softball team. She became our super-support speech mom/one-woman cheer squad when I was in high school. She became a 4-H leader for our neighbor kids – long after I had aged out of the group!
She was part of a core group of ladies who took care of dinners at the church. There is nothing as polarizing, as potentially explosive as the politics of church basement ladies. Forget everything the talking heads on TV tell you as we head into another election year. If any politician – ANY politician – ever says “I helped serve dinners in the church basement” forget about religious affiliation and elect that person. Immediately.
After all those years of (church) basement politics, serving on the city council was the next logical step for Mom. She pictured herself a champion for the city workers, and was so proud to become Mayor Pro-Tem. How many people shun taking this type of responsibility, shy away from getting involved (myself included)?
Of course there's a fine line between getting involved and being a busy body. I think she stayed on the straight and narrow. Although, again, everyone will have their own opinion.
And she knew that, too. She knew that sometimes people tried to do the right thing, or at least do what they thought was the right thing. Even if she didn't agree with them, she recognized that their heart was in the right place.
Her heart was in the right place.
I just hope mine is too.
Even though it's breaking right now.
I love you, Mom.