Sunday, August 24, 2008

My Mom

I've been thinking a lot about my mom and her mortality lately. In recent years, my mom's memory is not as sharp as it once was (her short-term memory, in particular, seems the most affected, and it also seems that the synapses in her brain don't fire up as quickly as they once did). This makes me a little sad just because it's hard sometimes to see one's parents become older and more frail. I felt the same way in regards to my dad, who passed away in 1992. Don't get me wrong. My mom is still pretty active and certainly not in bad shape or anything. Her long term memory is actually quite good and physically she is fine, for the most part. But it is still hard sometimes just to see her getting older and to know that, eventually, she will die. She will turn 70 next June. If she were to die at the same age as her own mother, she's still got another 15 years of life left (and her mother was quite active almost to the end).

I remember when we were younger, my mom and I would play Trivial Pursuit, and she used to be so good at it. Nowadays, when we play a similar game, she often will know the answer, but draws a blank on the name of whatever she is remembering. Often I'll just give her a free pass if I know she knows the answer even if she can't give me the exact answer. Of course, this is a minor thing and doesn't mean a whit in the long run, but I do miss the sharper mind she once had.

Or she'll tell me something she just told me five or ten minutes before because she has forgotten or vice-versa (she will forget information I just told her). Again, not a big deal. Just a minor inconvenience. Nothing major. But it's just hard to see her mortality show.

Last week I attended the funeral of a dear friend's mother, and as I was sitting their listening to the musical selections and talks of tribute, I thought of my own mother, whom I love dearly, and thought about how much I will miss her when she leaves this mortal coil.

Two days ago, my mother's doctor wanted to see her immediately because he thought she might have developed a blood clot in her leg. Of course, blood clots can cause death if the clot becomes loose and is released into the bloodstream. A relatively young friend of mine died suddenly of a pulminary embolism a few years ago because of just such a complication. So I was needfully concerned. Fortunately, there turned out to be no clot. But it made me think, and really, you can lose any loved one at any time without any warning, and I just don't feel ready to lose my mom yet.

I guess what's really been hard lately is that my sister is engaged to be married and will be moving away soon. My other two siblings are already married and live in their own homes. And I know I will be moving eventually. Jonah and I are pretty close to finally getting a home of our own (in another state), and while my work will keep me here in Utah for at least another 4 to 6 months, I know it's only a matter of time before I leave, too. I know my mother already feels the pangs of loneliness and boredom as her children are off doing their own things. Granted, we are with her often, but we are also away often, and it makes me feel sad to know that she will be by herself relatively soon.

She does stuff around the house and has a calling at the temple and does have a few friends she does stuff with, but I know there are also times when she feels lonely. Our family is quite close, and my mom and I have a particularly close relationship, so it's just going to be a hard adjustment for her and me, I think. I often do things for her at the house (maintain the yard, lift things she can't lift, help around the house, help her with computer or technical things (she's completely helpless when it comes to technology), and we also play games or talk or go out to eat, and I know that when I move away, it will be hard.

I am lucky in that Jonah is very aware of the transition my mom is going through and that she likes having me here, and he maintains that as long as I am working here, I might as well stay here. But I expect that my work will require to come back here from time to time. But I am also aware that I will have to be away from my mom for extended periods, and that I will worry about her just as I know she worries about me when I am away.

I love my mom so very much. We are very good friends, and she has been an amazing source of love and support doing my life and has been particularly supportive since I've come out and since I've been in this relationship with Jonah. She (along with my late dad) has taught me wonderful values that have shaped my life in positive ways. I truly can't imagine having or wanting another person as my mother. I love hugging her and discussing things with her, and I feel incredibly blessed and lucky to have her in my life. She is, perhaps, the most important mortal influence I've had in my life thus far.

I sang a song in church last Mother's Day that goes like this:

My mother's love has guided me from birth,
A gift from heaven for my life on earth.
What would life be without the sweetness of
That precious gift, my mother's love?
When I am hurt, my mother feels my pain
And gives her heart to make me whole again.
And when I fail or when life seems unfair,
I still can trust my mother's care.
My mother's love is warmth and tenderness,
A love that tries, in ev'ry way to bless.
For all my days, she's knelt and asked in prayer
That just for me, God would be there.
When that day comes that we must be apart,
More than before, I'll know with all my heart
Her precious love can never be replaced.
But I will feel, again, her warm embrace.
My mother's love, my mother's love.

("My Mother's Love" by Jean Erickson Barnes)

Truer words could not be spoken. I could barely get through the song because it described so well my feelings for my mom. I love her, and I am thankful for her. I just hope I'm ready when the time comes when we must say goodbye temporarily.

One other thing I wanted to say is that in his tribute to his own mother, my friend said something akin to the fact that we have to give God the best life we can. I think that's true, and I feel that is what I'm doing. This point was again driven home in Sacrament Meeting today when the speaker told a story about a cracked pot that was discouraged because he was only able to give half of what he was intended to give. Out of context, the part of the story I've given you might not even make sense, but I felt the Lord speak to my heart that even if a person is only able to give half of what he was made and intended for, it is still enough provided he is doing his best to give that.

It has hit my mind that as human beings (and, more specifically, as members of the LDS Church, we sure can be a judgmental lot. I don't think it serves us (or God) to be so judgmental (and I include myself). I need to do better at not judging others. Only God can really know a person's heart and intentions.

Anyway, those are my thoughts for today.

4 comments:

Kengo Biddles said...

It's very hard to realize that your parents are mortal...I've been through that several times with my parents as I see them aging, changing. My parents aren't as old as yours, but all the same, it's eye-opening and makes me want to be a little more forgiving of other's faults and foibles, because, after all, we're here for such a short time, what's the use of being angry/holding a grudge?

The Faithful Dissident said...

My husband's mother is a widow. His dad died just after we met, so I never got to meet him. He was having heart bypass surgery but his heart wasn't strong enough and he died on the operating table. Shortly after he died, my mother-in-law developed serious rheumatoid arthritis. My husband has only one older brother, but he lives a couple hours away and can't be there to help her. So the main reason why we decided to settle in Norway instead of Canada was so that she wouldn't be alone. My parents are still young and healthy and I felt guilty about leaving my mother-in-law pretty much all alone in Norway. Now her health has deteriorated and we wonder how she can manage to keep her house, which requires a lot of work, most of which she can't do. It often feels like a real burden on us, since there is no one else to help her and no one to help us help her. She can also be very demanding, which doesn't make it any easier on my husband and me. But she is, after all, his mother and so how can we just leave her? C'est la vie.

I work with dementia and Alzheimer's patients. It's a challenge, but I enjoy my job for the most part.

I'm in denial that I'm ever going to get old... :)

Thanks for a beautiful post.

Damon In CO said...

Wow. Your feelings toward your mother echoes my own.

Like you, I am struggling with my own Mother's mortality. My Father is alive and in poor health and has been for some time. I recognize his time might be nearing and have come to terms with that as much as I think I can.

It's a good relationship you have with your mom. I suppose worry is just a part of that relationship.

Gay LDS Actor said...

Thank you all for your comments. They are appreciated.