Monday, May 14, 2018

My Year of Firsts Begins

One week before Mother’s Day, this enormous black cloud rolled in and hovered over me. Initially, I could not comprehend it. Then my friend, Chloe, gave it a name: The beginning of the year of firsts.

My mom and I have always been close. Before Dad passed away, she and I were sitting by his bedside. He looked over at us and said, “You are two peas in a pod.” Since March of this year, one of those peas has vanished from the pod.

When a loved one for whom you have been chief caregiver passes away, there are a multitude of details that must be handled with accuracy and a lucid mind. There is literally no opportunity to fall apart. Each item on the list is managed, crossed off, and one moves on to the next task.

Then the year of first commences. It could be Thanksgiving, Christmas, a birthday or anniversary, Mother’s Day or Father’s Day when a huge dose of reality engulfs you. That loved one is no longer present to celebrate in any traditions you may have enjoyed with them.
Mother's Day 2016
As the warm, fuzzy commercials, advertisements and Facebook references to moms bombarded us in the days preceding this Mother’s Day, I became increasingly weepy every time I heard or saw one. It emphasized to me that I would no longer spend Mother’s Day taking Mom to church and a nice brunch. It was my pleasure to honor a woman who was the best mom, friend, confidant, prayer warrior and role model anyone could ever imagine.

Prior to her March, 2018 passing, Alzheimer’s had changed her over a period of a couple of years from a sharp, organized, articulate, detail-oriented woman to someone who could no longer pay a bill, make a grocery list, or remember what was said five minutes ago. Somehow it never robbed her of her sweet, caring personality, however. She always greeted everyone with a big smile.

Was it stressful to be in charge of her well-being for many years? Yes. Is it, in some strange way, a relief not to have that level of responsibility on my shoulders? Yes. But I miss her smile and positive attitude. I miss taking her to play Bingo or listen to a gospel group at her Assisted Living residence. I miss just sitting and chatting with her.

A caring friend, Allison, sent me flowers, knowing that this Mother's Day would be a difficult time. I am trying not to feel sorry for myself, but the tears just fall from my eyes like a drippy faucet that will not stop. Then I get a grip and remind myself that she lived a good, long life. She enjoyed ninety reasonably healthy years and knew that she was dearly loved. Now she and Dad are two peas in a pod in heaven. That is my comfort.

Mother’s Day is only the beginning of my year of firsts. I believe I had better get accustomed to it, knowing that time helps make it just a little bit easier. But it will never be quite the same. 

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