A Mother’s Love
by Mariann E. Danko
I seem to find myself in quite the quandary this month. I feel like I’ve lost my mojo. I had every intention of dedicating this month’s post to mothers, in particular my amazing Mom, but every time I start to write, I find myself struggling to find the right words. I have started the post, but my words aren’t sparking me to move on. I even found a quote I felt would be perfect to set the tone.
Unfortunately, I feel so many of my words are the same words written by many before me. See below.
“It has been said in more ways than one that there is no greater love than that of a mother for her child. As a mother and a daughter, I can attest this to be true. When my son was born, he became the center of my universe. When he hurts, I hurt. When he’s happy, so am I. When he excels, I cry tears of joy. If we fight, it hurts me to my core. I know I will always feel this way. When he’s a grown man with a family of his own, my love with expand to his children. The amount of love our hearts can give is astounding. I saw this with my mother. She hung in there as long as should could, not for herself, but for her children. Sitting by her bedside her last couple days, you could see the fight in her.”
I thought I was doing OK until I realized May 6th was Nurse’s Day. You got it, my Mom was a nurse. The best there ever was. Her compassion for her patients reached well beyond her duties. After my father passed, she took a position at a local college and built the health service for the students from the ground up, by herself. Each one of those students became like another child to her and the feeling was mutual with the students. This was evident by the beautiful and touching words written by former students on the school’s Facebook page after she passed. In addition, there were former students that actually came to her services. My Mom was 94, and retired from the school in the late nineties. She started the health service in 1966. The students that attended services graduated in the 70’s. That is truly a testament as to the kind of woman she was.
Just imagine having a woman like this as your Mom. My siblings and I were beyond blessed. Saying goodbye to a woman who’s heart never turned a soul away, even those that hurt her, rips at those ribbons of her love woven around our hearts. When she passed a little piece of our hearts died with her. There is a void where once there was love.
I know with time this void will heal, and the love my mother shared with all of us will flow again through fond memories, but right now it still really hurts, particularly with Mother’s Day one month from the date of her passing. It’s like putting salt in the wound. I have been told by those who have walked in these shoes before me, that grace will get me through. That the vision of the pain we saw our Mother in over her last days and months will fade, taken over by pleasant memories.
Facing the twelve year anniversary of the passing of the love of my life and father of my son this summer, I do know that this is true. I have gone from periods of extreme grief, to peace. I have learned to stay in tune and be attentive to the signs that he is keeping an eye on my son and I. Whether it be reoccurring numbers, songs or a beautiful dragonfly, I know this is his way of saying “Hey, I got your back.” Right now though, the image of my frightened Mother crying out in pain is extremely vivid. It is a memory I want to forget, but unfortunately is still too fresh, so I will pray for grace to carry me through, looking for signs that my Mom has got my back too.
The irony here is that my Mother’s middle name was Grace. And grace she was, in every definition of the word: a virtue coming from God; disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemency; and the quality or state of being considerate or thoughtful. My mother was an angel here on earth. Every person who met her was touched by her gracious soul. She had a way about her that made you feel special, important, and that who you were mattered. Her heart was bigger than this world. She didn’t have an ounce of malice in her bones. Her smile could light up a room. These are the things I need to remember to wash away the dark memories.
Her middle name alone is a promise from God that I will find peace with time. Grieving is a personal and individual process. The important thing is to allow myself time to grieve, to not feel like I have to act like everything is OK, because in reality, it is not. I have been trying to get back to life as usual, whatever that may be, but it’s the little things on any given day that can trigger a tear. It is those tears that will help me heal. I have to let my heart feel, whatever it needs to feel, whenever it needs to feel it and not be concerned about what others may think. If I have a down day I need to honor it as part of the process. If I have a day without any blue moments, I need to thank “Grace” for helping me move forward.
As I work my way through this month’s post (Note, I write over a period of weeks during my lunch break.) it is ever so evident that my Mother is already helping me find my mojo. By acknowledging my grief attached to Nurse’s Day I was forced to flush out my pain and just let the words flow. Once I allowed this to happen I felt a little piece of those ribbons of love begin to thread that void in my heart back together.
My Mother was always one of my biggest supporters. Not just about my writing, but about everything. She always had encouraging words, especially about my parenting. I could not have made it through my son’s infant, toddler, elementary and middle school years without her help, both physically and emotionally. What started out as my Mom coming to babysit while I worked on weekends, became the normal weekend routine even after I left the restaurant business and went back to a Monday through Friday office gig. My son could hardly wait for Grammy to come on a Friday. He would sit at the window and watch for her car. We became the “Three Musketeers” on the weekends. Up until she went into a nursing home in December, a “Weekend with Grammy” was the light at the end of long week.
By the time I started this blog, my Mom’s dementia was beginning to take over, so, even if I discussed it, she didn’t completely get it, but I know she thought it was cool that my son and I had bonded over “The Walking Dead.” As a matter of fact, on more than one occasion she sat and watched the show with us. She even retained that I was not fond of the character Lori Grimes (Sarah Wayne Callies). When she commented during one episode, I was blown away. She couldn’t recall the conversation that we had ten minutes earlier, but she remembered my frustration when it came to Lori Grimes. My best guess with this is because my frustration was seated in Lori’s poor mothering skills, which my Mom could certainly relate to. Whether she completely got what was going on in the show didn’t matter, she could see that this character was far from performing her motherly duties at even a mediocre level.
Even with dementia, this type of thing never sat well with Mom. She would always connect to stories in the news about women or men, not performing their parenting duties, putting their children in harms way. My Mother’s mothering instincts never faded. Her children and grandchildren always came first. To be honest, up until the last 6 months to maybe a year, she still thought she was watching my son when she was with us on weekends, when in actuality, he was the one keeping an eye on her.
It was hard on my Mother to accept the fact that she had gotten to the point where she needed our help to get herself together every day and to keep her on track. She was an extremely independent woman who never asked for help, so having to rely on her children challenged her. She was grateful and told us so, but, you could see the disappointment in her eyes. This was not who she was. This was not the way it was suppose to be. Life had come full circle and our Mother had become the child. The dynamics of our relationship may have changed, but not the strength of our love. To be honest, I believe it made it even stronger.
Even though my heart may ache, I know my Mother is whole again. Her beautiful soul is free of it’s human limitations and frailties. She can soar with all the other angels and spread her love even further and wider than she did on this earth. I also know that she’s back to watching over not just my son, but all of her children and grandchildren. In addition, as a dear friend said me, her legacy of love will be everlasting.
© Mariann E. Danko and Waking the Walker, 2015. All rights reserved.