I’m sorry you had to watch your mother die from Alzheimer’s Disease. You worry it might be your fate. And mine, too. Sometimes you grow melancholy and say your game is almost over. It’s late in the second half and the clock is burning down.
“I can’t believe it. Really. There’s so much I still want to do.”
That we have to get old at all doesn’t seem fair. That you won’t be here forever is hard to imagine—I cannot comprehend a world without you in it. I am lucky I get this time with you—you’re healthy, active, and engaged—the indignities and injustices of old age haven’t hit.
So before it’s too late, I want to make sure you know why I love you.
You don’t cry over spilled milk (or much else).
When a grandchild topples a drink or accidentally breaks a piece of china, you don’t care. It doesn’t matter. Things can be replaced. But a harsh word or a judgmental look can’t be retrieved. You’re kind before you are anything else. People love you.
You prioritize what’s important.
You are the embodiment of the Golden Rule: Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you. When one of my kids ruins something I try to think, How would my mom handle this?
And then I try to be you.
You don’t do anything half-heartedly.
You give 110% to whatever you’re doing, whether it’s planning a breakfast with over-the-top centerpieces and a twenty course meal, organizing your mother’s memorial services with a classical harpist and Scottish bagpipe player, or having Santa deliver a live goat for Christmas when we were children.
Whatever it is, you go above and beyond sometimes to the point of the ridiculous.
Last week when I asked you to donate a plant to your grandson’s soccer fundraiser, you immediately agreed to contribute a display arch decorated with cornstalks, hay bails, mums, and pumpkins. I wouldn’t expect anything less than over the top. But, that’s what makes you, you! Every thing you touch turns beautiful. You’ve taught us that average is not okay.
You don’t sit still.
Lots of people in their seventies are starting to slow down. Not you. You work forty hours a week at the community college Tutoring Center and run your antique business on a Sunday. Listening to what you have planned on a Saturday makes me tired. How can you go to three auctions, the flower warehouse, the grocery story, two grand kids’ soccer games, and then out to dinner?
Your Energizer Bunny approach to life is both good and bad.
Good because you give me hope that I’ll follow in your footsteps and be healthy and active for a long time. Bad in that I have to keep up with you now!
You believe that your kids can do anything.
You are almost delusional in this regard. But your confidence has been the catalyst that’s pushed your children into new ventures and the pursuit of our crazy passions. From the time we were little, you made us believe we were special, that there wasn’t anything we couldn’t achieve. You still think your son is going to win an Oscar and I’m going to be a best-selling novelist.
Your certainty sustains us.
You, alone, are the one person who can pull me out of the poor-me-my-book-will-never-get-published doldrums. You get an A+ for resoluteness.
Now that I’ve been at this motherhood gig for sixteen years myself, I know being a mom is not an easy task. With the ever-changing nature of the “employees,” it’s difficult to master any phase of the job. The longer I’m in the trenches, the more I respect you. Kids take a lot for granted. Big (adult) kids are no different.
Mothering is not always fun.
But I drew a straight flush in the mother-picking lottery.
I know that you love me with all of your heart. I know that you always do and did your best.
You are my confidant, my cheerleader, my favorite companion, and the steady, guiding force in my life.
This is why I love you.
Thank you for showing me the way.
God broke the mold when he made you.
And I am so grateful.
P.S. This letter was republished on Her View From Home
P.P.S. That book, What The Valley Knows, is going to be published January 25, 2018!
Photo: My daughter, my mom, and me
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Youth fades; love droops; the leaves of friendship fall;
A mother’s secret hope outlives them all.
Oliver Wendell Holmes
* * *
“A taut, compelling family tale.” Kirkus Reviews
Till next time,