Saturday, February 21, 2015

When You Lose Your Mom...

She broke the bread into two pieces and gave them to her children, who ate with eagerness.

              "She hath saved none for herself," 
                    grumbled the sergeant.
               "Because she is not hungry," 
                    said the soldier.
                "No," said the sergeant,
                  "because she is a mother."
                                                           -Victor Hugo

February 19th is a day that at once brings me great joy and great sadness. When I wake up in the morning, and am not fully awake, my mind says with glee, "It's her birthday!"

And then when reality sets in, and I am a bit more with it, I realize, " She is gone."

I miss my Mom. Almost every day. I almost miss her more than I did when she was alive and  on the planet. We lived on opposite sides of the state of Washington and so phoning her was the usual communication channel of choice.

This February 19th the missing was almost a physical ache. The depth of the feeling frankly surprised me. I just couldn't quite fathom that she wasn't here any more. I couldn't call her. I couldn't give her a birthday card. I had a hard time remembering what her voice sounded like. I went to find the tape with her voice on it and realized it was in the storage unit, carefully tucked away after our last move.

I thought about her on and off the whole day. You see my Mom and I had a complex relationship. I was a total mystery to her. Our personalities were so different. Our relationship didn't flow easily, like I read about in some poems. She often didn't express her love in ways that I could understand.
At least not understand then. 

I get it now.

Someone once said that you will never understand the depth of your own mother's love until you become a mother yourself. 

True statement.

When I had my two daughters, this quote took on new meaning...

Making the decision to have a child is momentus.
It is to forever have your heart go walking around outside your body.
                                                   -Elizabeth Stone

The first three letters in the word momentus are
M O M.

Yes, becoming a Mom changes everything. It has changed me, and it changed my Mom.

What age and  wisdom has brought to me is compassion for my Mom and her parenting style.

My Mom's style of parenting and communicating was so different from my own. Her way to be a Mom was a direct result of how her Mom was with her, her own personality, and her own love language. 

My Mom's "love language" was gifts of service. She showed her love for me by helping me in countless ways. She did things to show her love. I didn't understand that then, but I do understand it now.

My love language is "words of affirmation."
Hearing she loved me meant more than her doing things for me. So often I didn't feel loved or I misunderstood her sternness or prickly ways.

For my Mom, there was always a way things "should be done." She was an in-the-box person and I was and am an out-of-the-box person. And her "should be" and my "should be" didn't always mix well.

Yet back in that day there was no book to read like "The Five Love Languages," by Gary Chapman.
Note: Don't miss this great book!

"The Five Love Languages" has helped me to better understand how my own children experience love,
but the book hadn't been written then to help my Mom.

Yet what I know for sure, or at least I know it now, is that if the book had been written and she had learned it would help, she would have read it and followed what it said. She desperately wanted to be a great Mom. And she was.

What made her a great Mom to me is that she was there. She showed up. She didn't leave me or ever give up on me. She was the very best Mom she knew how to be.

 My Mom loved me with a passion that I now understand. What I feel so sad about, now that she is gone, is that I wish I could tell her again:

 "I get it now, Mom. How much you loved me and how hard you tried." 

I get it. She always felt like she wasn't enough.
She felt like she wasn't a good enough Mom.
Now I get it. Now I get it that she was a great Mom.

So what did I do when I was missing my Mom on
February 19th?

Here are a few of the things I did that helped my aching heart:

1) I wrote her a letter. I poured out my heart and cried and wrote and cried and wrote. I keep those yearly letters in a box since each year I have new learnings about who she was and what she means to me. 

2) I talked about her all day long. I told stories about how she had been there and the sacrifices she had made for me. All the times when she broke the bread and gave it all to me to eat instead of eating it herself.  Her absolute unselfishness. Her undying love for me, even when I was pretty unlovable and made it quite clear that I thought she was very irritating.

3) I told all of my friends, who still have their Moms, that the day would come when she was gone and you would give anything to tell her you love her.

                    Tell her you love her now! 

As hard as your relationship with her might be, tell her now. Write her now. Call her now. Appreciate her now, while she is still here. No matter her response, or what she might say or do, tell her now.

My Dad passed away first and almost within a year my Mom's health deteriorated. She missed my Dad with all her heart. They had been married 52 years when he died. I took care of her in my Dad's absence and every other weekend I traveled to see her. 

I was holding her on the day when she died.

I am so grateful to God that the last voice she heard was mine. Telling her I loved her. Telling her I would miss her forever. And telling her that she did such a great job being my Mom. 

My daughters brushed her hair, put lipstick on her (she was very clear that you never left the house without your "face on." )We embraced her with the kind of love that would have made her uncomfortable when I was growing up.

The girls told her that Grandpa was waiting 

for her in heaven and she would greet him looking

And surrounded by love, she went home to Jesus.

I still have a relationship with my Mom. 
I find that 
I talk to her and often say... 

"You would love seeing my grandchildren, your great grandchildren, do this, Mom." I tell her how much I love her and miss her. I chuckle out loud at things that happened when I was growing the duck story.

And what I know for sure is that I was right when I told her that I will miss her forever.

God bless!

Love, Linda




Peggy Sue said...

I had tears on this is true...all you wrote. The delicate balance of mothers and daughters. and how when we are 'different' then our mothers it i a difficult relationsip at times. My sister is more "like' our mother. I was the one she didnt understand..and yet. I love my mother..and like yours I new she did the very best she could with everything she had and all the confusion and the box's she was raised in...what a beautiful tribute to your mom Linda...just beautiful...tears on this end...because our mom's are just that...our mom's they are priceless!

Miss Myia said...

I know how hard you worked at the relationship with your mom...I watched you and I know that she truly felt how much you loved her...showing affection wasn't her strong suit....but she sure could talk about how amazing you were...our lunch together was truly "all about Linda"....she loved you and the girls and I am truly thankful to have known her and learned from you both about relationships...none worth having are easy...but you are easy to love and I do love that we pick right back up, hug and chat...I love and miss you..hugs too! Myia

Finding Comfort in Kindness...sharing from the heart

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