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Reflections May 2018

A Mother’s Day Gift

By K. F. Donahue

In the months prior to her health decline, my mother would reminisce about her childhood and about the post-war days in our small country house where she began her journey as the stay at home mother that she never had. And for this I thanked her in a Mother’s Day letter that year she turned 94.  

The spring passed by in a blur of worried phone calls, long cross-state drives, hospital visits, inconclusive tests, and doctor consultations as my mother’s health began to decline like a downhill-rolling snowball gathering speed. The circle of life was never more evident as it was that spring.

My mother Jane grew up during the Depression and spent most of her young life without many things – including a mother at home because of a debilitating illness which required constant care. Although Jane’s father was in the picture, he was lucky enough to be working. However he could not manage raising four young children so, Jane and her siblings were split up among relatives generous enough to add another into their homes. For this reason, when she and dad married in 1945, Jane vowed to be a stay at home mother for the family they planned to raise.

In the months prior to her health decline, my mother would reminisce about her childhood and about the post-war days in our small country house where she began her journey as the stay at home mother that she never had. And for this I thanked her in a Mother’s Day letter that year she turned 94.  

 

Dear Mom:

So many memories keep flitting through my mind.

When I was small you would sew and sew – my dresses, my coats, all my clothes, my doll’s clothes, and even my favorite “two headed” doll.  As I grew up you taught me to sew, sharing your skills with the material, the patterns, the pins and needles, and the sewing machine along with that darn bobbin that always managed to tangle my thread.

You taught me to “read a recipe” for, as you would always say, “If you can read, you can do anything.” So that is why I can credit you for my voracious appetite when it comes to reading –   everything from newspapers, magazines, and of course to hundreds upon hundreds of books.

Also I remember how in the spring you and Dad would take all of us through the woods on the hill behind the house to pick the wild blueberries you would turn into sugar-sprinkled muffins and thick sweet preserves.

And I still smile thinking about those summer day picnic trips to the beach when you would pack a lunch of sandwiches, homemade cookies and lemonade; when Dad would sleep on the sand all day after working all night, and how we whispered and giggled as we watched high tide creep up on him.

Oh, and always I will remember your encouragement to try different activities – ballet, tap dancing, oil painting, roller skating, even that class of mechanical drawing in high school.

Yes, so many memories flitting through my mind.

You were always there for me.

Love,  Your Daughter

 

But the circle of life must complete its journey also and in May we moved Mom from the hospital back to her apartment under hospice, with round the clock home care attendants. By this time Mom was a pale shadow of herself nestled among the bed covers in a primarily non-responsive state, barely waking enough for a few sips of water or a spoonful of pureed baby food. My sister and I alternated our days of visiting. My husband, our little schnauzer and I would get up early to drive across the state for our day with Mom.

And so it was on Mother’s Day that year when we visited: I brushed her hair, chatted about news, relatives, weather, and books, reminisced and also reread my Mother’s Day letter for it is said that even though a person seems to be in a coma-like condition, she may still hear. It was soon time for us to head for home. As we were bidding our farewells, I bent close to give Mom a kiss as I said good-bye. Mom fluttered her eyelids a bit as she whispered one word: “bye.”

That was the last word that she spoke. Mom passed quietly a week later. I will always remember that final goodbye and I thank her for that very special Mother’s Day gift.

Dear Mom,

We will all miss you.

You were always there for us.

You were always there for me.

I will remember you with smiles and laughter.

Love always.