Sunday, May 13, 2007

Sunday Scribblings: Missing Mom

The below piece is my entry for "Sunday Scribblings." I wanted to do something about my mother while staying in todays theme of "second chances." Sadly, the story is true.
My brother and I took our parents and younger brother to the airport. I don’t remember why my sister wasn’t with us, maybe she had to work. It was a few days after Christmas 1978. The air was cold and the goodbyes were tearful. Mom kept hugging us both as we waited for their plane, the first of several that would take them half way across the world. When it was time to board, we hugged one last time and then shook our dad’s and younger brother’s hand. They walked out to the plane and we waited as the door closed and the plane took off and banked toward Atlanta.

Before the age of the internet and back when the discounted phones rates to Japan was over a dollar a minute, we’d mostly communicated by letter for the next four years. Each summer, they’d come home. All three of us older kids would take trips over there, where they’d show us around the country. My parents seemed happy and the time they spent overseas was precious, but also hard. They were away for both my brother and my college graduations and only my mother would be present for his wedding. Although this was a time in life when it’s normal for children to become independent, and I’d been living on my own for over a year, their move facilitated our freedom. By the time they moved back stateside, we’d all be involved in careers and my sister and I would be living in new cities far from home.

My mother often lamented having been gone and how she wished things was still like it was before they moved overseas. What she didn’t realize, or at least didn’t admit, is that their move had little to do with the changes that were occurring. We were in college, we were getting older, and she knew that, sometimes she couldn’t help but wonder if things would have been different if they’d stayed in the states. Perhaps she’d have a second chance to have us all at home again. She longed for the past, when we were all living under the same roof. For years, she’d try every trick possible to get us all home at the same time. This was quite a feat after my sister and I moved to different corners of the country.

Before my dad retired, my parents would take another stint overseas for a couple of years. I’d move back and forth across the country a few times. We got into a routine of talking by phone nearly every Sunday and seeing each other once a year, sometimes twice. As when they were in Japan, my mother continued to be a letter writer. At some point, she switched to email, but still wrote long flowing letters about what they and the extended family including folks I’m not ever sure I’d recognize were doing. I should have known something was up with the letters stopped and when my mother’s calls became shorter. By the time she was diagnosed, the illness had progressed further than anyone had realized. I begin to realize a little how my mother felt, wanting a second chance to have everyone back at home and knowing it was never going to happen. We’d get no second chances of having our old mom back as her memory continued to fade.
A couple weeks ago, I was talking to my dad. I could hear him choke up as he told me about how, the night before, when he was checking the doors and making sure things were locked up for the evening, mom asked if we were all in for the night. Maybe, in her scrambled mind, she’s getting a second chance. Even though I still love her dearly and will always love her, I miss my old mom.

15 comments:

  1. I hope she is. I'm missing her for you.

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  2. I hope she's getting her second chance. I've seen Alzheimer's destroy so many wonderful minds...it's such a terrible thing.

    (((HUGS)))

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  3. Oh, Sage, I'm sorry. I have not known anyone personally who has Alzheimer's, but I understand it is a very sorrowful thing. I know they do have moments of clarity, so perhaps you'll be lucky and she will have one when you next see her. I hope so.

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  4. That is a sad story. It is hard when a loved one starts to lose or loses one's memory and just can't piece things correctly together anymore.

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  5. I think your last insight might be right on...and that in her altered mind she might be experiencing some of the reality she wants to. I hope that's the case.

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  6. No matter how old you are you mother is always "your mother." You'll always miss her and hopefully will get to the point that it'll make you a better parent and have more smiles than sadness (I ain't there yet...). Like Joni says..."you don't know what you got 'til its gone." Good that you know what you have and had now, it'll help you I hope. There ain't anybody that gets over the loss of their mother, not matter what, no matter when, no matter how. Just know you aren't alone in how you feel. Doesn't make it hurt any less, but it does help in a weird way...

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  7. Sorry for the loss of your "old" mom... and I hope with you that she is experencing that second chance to have you all with her like it was before things changed.

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  8. Very sad to see your Mom like that. I hope she is getting her second chance like you say.

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  9. Thanks for all your kind words. I decided to take the picture out--rereading it this morning, it just didn't seem to go with the post. I didn't intend for it to represent the post, but it seemed this morning to be a distraction (I'll use it later)

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  10. Excellent post. I've lost a person in my family to the disease and it is hard to retain the memories of who they were and not who they've become.

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  11. I feel for you. I feel for her. Maybe you will all get a second chance with her.

    Never give up on hope.

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  12. Such a touching, personal story . . . thanks for sharing . . .

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  13. Thanks for sharing this very personal story. We will be praying for your family.

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  14. i visited your blog after a long while (have been caught up in too many things) and found this touching, well-written piece. thank you for sharing it.

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