I have always appreciated Mom – at least the way I remember it! I’m sure there were a few adolescent years when the appreciation lay buried deep, but that same appreciation blossomed fully when I became a mother myself. That’s when I realized that I grew up in a house with a superhero.
In the past few months, my appreciation and love for my mom has changed. It’s as though it has been burnished by grief and devotion, with a rich patina that can come only from experiencing together sorrow and loss and a recognition of love.
At first Mom was surprised when we all came after we heard that Dad was dying. We weren’t surprised to do that at all – that’s how we had been raised by the two of them. You show up. You wait for each other. You leave pretense at the door.
So we were all there, gathered at his bedside. We four kids would go to our own rooms for the night, but Mom slept in Dad’s room, on the most uncomfortable cot in the world. She didn’t complain. She wanted to be there with him and for him, as she had been for 58 years.
And then – I can hardly write this – she stood with us as each of us had to say goodbye to Dad. Three of us left before he died. I know how I felt when I left his room for the last time; leaving him was the hardest thing I have ever done.
But Mom was there for me, and for my brothers, as we each said goodbye and then cried and cried. In her grief, in her exhaustion, she was still Mom. She was still there for us, holding us, comforting us, being present with us in the rawness of grief.
So this year especially, I am grateful for my mother. I am grateful for her humor and her wackiness, for her generosity and wisdom, and especially grateful for her devotion to Dad through it all, and for her presence with us in those bewildering days in December.
“Thank you” seems such an inadequate thing to say, and “I love you” does too. The words are paltry, but all that is behind them is not.
Thank you, Mom. I love you.