Friday, December 30, 2016

The Path Leading To One of My Greatest Fears

     My relationship with my Mom was....complicated. It was a real love/hate relationship if there ever was one. I was my Mom's "baby". As a little girl, I bristled when I heard those words. As I grew older, I learned being the baby wasn't such a bad thing. I could use it to wriggle out of a lot of things.  It didn't take me long to realize that this was position of power, and believe me when I tell you, I played it for all it was worth. What I became was a manipulative, spoiled brat that thought everyone in the world would treat me the same way I was allowed to act at home. My Dad was the strict disciplinarian, so of course I attached myself to the parent that let me get my way. I never wanted to leave my Mom's side as a little girl, and going to school was a rude awakening for me. Back then, we lived close to school, and I could could go home for lunch. Once I was home, I never wanted to go back to school. I cried and begged and pleaded with my Mom to let me stay home. When that didn't work, I cried for her to drive me back to school. When that didn't work, I insisted she walk with me back to school. What a charmer I was, huh?
   
     By time I was in first grade, my parents began leaving my sisters and me for a few weeks while they would go to Florida. Now that I look at it, who could blame them for wanting to get away for awhile when they had such a feisty, strong-willed six year old at home? My sisters were 10 and 7 years older (16 an 13) than I was, so they didn't mind when my parents left. In fact, they loved it! They got to stay at their best friend's houses and have lots of fun. Me? I stayed with a family from the church one time, another time a cousin and his family stayed with me, or an Aunt and Uncle would move in for a month. I hated it! It created so much anxiety in me, and I truly felt abandoned every time they left. In my mind, I really thought they would get in an accident, die, and I would never see them again. It's hard to explain the fear I had as a little girl, but my young childhood years did not feel warm and fuzzy and loving to me. I was full of fear as a little girl, but my my biggest fear was the loss of my parents - especially my Mom.

     God, of course, knew this and it warms my heart when I recall the tender way He prepared me for life without the person that I thought I couldn't live without. Three months before her stroke, my Mom was attending her water aerobics class. She was out of the pool, completely dressed, but fell backwards and hit her head. You know what? I'm getting confused about the order of events, but I think she passed out and was brought by ambulance to the hospital.  She arrived with an extremely low blood pressure, The doctor talked to my sister and he knew Mom had the DNR orders. They decided to give her a high surge of oxygen and it revived her! Once she returned to Raybrook, she was doing physical therapy and passed out. The PT called the ambulance and once again Mom was rushed to the hospital. This time it was due to pulmonary embolism. She was sent to intensive care. This time I flew up. I was able to spend time with her in the hospital.Once she was out of Intensive Care, we had so much fun. I brought her make up from home and gave her a facial. We did Face Time with Elise and she marveled at all the things she could do with my I Pad. Her nurse walked in while she was on Face Time and promptly left the room. She returned a few minutes later laughing and said to Mom, "It's not everyday I walk in on a 94 year old and can't take her blood pressure because she's busy talking on Face Time!" Another day, we had devotions together. After we prayed, I looked at her and said, "Mom, I know you are so ready to go home to be with Jesus. But you know what? I think one of the reasons you're still here is because of me. God knows I'm just not ready for you to leave me yet."  She looked me right in the eyes and said, "Well, it's going to happen soon. And you better come to grips with that. And you will be just fine."

     The next time I came was one month later, in November. She was out of Assisted Living and back in her own apartment. She felt weak and for the very first time in my entire life, she was receptive to me helping her with meals. I tried to treat her like a queen as much as I could. I gave her back rubs and leg rubs and tried to serve her whatever meal sounded good to her.  It made me feel so good to hear her say, not once, but often, "What am I going to do when you go back home?" The last thing I did before I left to fly home was put a beef roast in the oven for Sunday dinner, just like she had always made for us growing up. My brother-in-law was coming over to have Sunday dinner with her.
She called me later that day and said, "That roast tasted so good!" Quite a compliment from the World's Greatest Chef and Baker!

     My final visit came in December. She was doing great! I remember telling her, "You may not sense it, but I can tell you are much stronger than last month!" She fussed for my birthday and made
my favorite childhood treat - meringues - served with ice cream and chocolate sauce. We went out to eat several times and she even let me shop for her. I found her a cute red jacket, and I think she wore that in almost every final picture we have of her. Devotions with her were my favorite. We would conclude by holding hands and saying the Lord's Prayer. Then, still holding hands, we would give one-two-three hand pumps which meant "I Love You". We used to do that with my Dad, too. One day, she held on to my hands and didn't let go after the one-two-three. She looked at me, holding both my hands, and said, "I really do love you." Oh, how I needed to hear that. All the ugly years, all the times we acted like we were each other's worst enemy, it all melted away with those words. The woman that always held me at a distance, finally let her guard down and let me in. I felt loved and accepted and good enough. And healed. I finally felt healed.

     One night, in bed, we were having one of our "in the dark" talks and I asked her, "Mom, how did you do it all these years? How did you do it all these years without having your own Mother to lean on?' She quietly responded, "You, know, I've often wondered the same thing." Her Mother died very unexpectedly when my Mom was only 13. She had to learn so many of life's lessons all by herself. I'm so thankful this was the journey that God prepared for me - a journey that brought me to a place of restoration with my Mom -  to a place where I felt her love for me and to a place where she accepted the love I had for her. What a tremendous blessing God gave me.

1 comment:

Nancy Witteveen said...

You described your relationship with mom as complicated. I really think most relationships are complicated. Everybody is different from everyone else, we act differently ,look differently and see things differently. I think we all think our way is the best way!.I remember thinking you were a spoiled brat when you were young but I don't even remember or didn't know all the fears you had about losing our mom when you were young. Looking back I could have been more understanding or helpful,but we don't have all that insight when we are young. We learn and mature,and everything we go through makes us the person we are today. Aren't we so glad God is in control,and knows exactly what we need and what is best for us!!!!!You are doing an awesome job of sharing your feelings, and I love reading it, Love you more!