I had such great plans for this year. I was going to write my book, lose weight and get out of debt. Last weekend was a perfect example of my life. It stood up, smacked me around a little, made me loose focus and sent me running around in circles. Yes, I had a really good time at dinner with friends. Yes, the food was yummy, but did not help me lose weight or get out of debt or help me write my book. It is now January 26. Where did the freaking time go?
All right now. My grandmother used to tell me to count my blessings. My mom was more on the melancholy sides of things like I am. I have many blessings to count. A wonderful husband I will grow old with, a beautiful and gifted daughter, two funny and smart sons who are a blast to hang around with, and I have my mind. This is not a small blessing. I'm not saying my head is large, it can be, but isn't right now.
My mom died on my daughter's fourth birthday. She had been valedictorian of her high school class and had wanted to go to college. Girls going to college didn't happen so much when she was in her late teens. She didn't particularly want kids. She confided this to me one night after dinner and a movie and mother-daughter date. She had five. She had wanted a career and had gotten five children, a grouchy husband and a farm to run. My mom had been really smart. She knew things. She had read voraciously and installed in me a LOVE of learning - even of things not related to my life. I suppose I can blame her for my mindless searching of the internet for more news, more information, more anything other than what I am supposed to be working on.
When my mom was my age, she had her mind too. Then she lost it. I'll be 42 this year. The age my mother was when I was born. I can't imagine having another child now. I don't have the energy or attention for one. My daughter will be ten (the same age as my brother was when I was born - he the closest sibling of the five I have). I wonder if my mom felt the same despair I did when I thought I was pregnant at 41. I never asked her. I don't really want to know the answer.
I don't know exactly how old my mom was when she lost her mind. I know that she was never the same after she found out my father had been having an affair with a secretary at work FOR YEARS! They had been together for 35 years. I was ten. She moved off the farm and bought a house with her half of the farm's equity. She raised me by herself until I went to college. By the time I was old enough to have pulled my head out of my own rectum, my mom was sick. My oldest some came when I was 21, followed by another at 24. It was then that I noticed that Mom wasn't quite right. My adorable and sweet newborn boy was mostly ignored by Mom. She battled breast cancer, then had heart surgery, then slowly lost her way.
I think living alone was not good for her. She had waited all her life to have a home of her own - without kids under her feet or a husband and farm to manage. She always told me that she wanted me to experience living on my own, in my own place, without other people depending on me. I didn't understand at the time why that was important. I was intent on not being alone, intent to start a family and a LIFE. Why would I opt for being alone? I understand now. It is good for the soul when there's not another soul tugging on an metaphoric apron string. Except when its not.
My mother spent her time as she wanted to spend it. Reading. In her chair. With her cat. As I write this, I have my own cat on my lap purring away. There is a comfort in furry little beast with a fuzzy little mind keeping your lap warm. That wasn't enough to keep my mom with us though. She developed early onset Alzheimers (like my grandmother). She had scared me when she had talked about my grandmothers sickness. She swore she wasn't going to go through with it. She bought a handgun and was going to make sure she did not put her children through what her mother put her through. She didn't and she did. Life is full of circles.
The last seven years of her life were spent in nursing homes and hospitals with bracelets on her leg or arm to keep her from wandering off. I prefer to believe she wanted to follow her mind where ever it lead. It would have killed her, but I understand the desire to walk and wander, to smell the breeze and see what is around the next bend in the trail.
When they called my sister to tell her it was time to come say goodbye to Mom, my sister called me. It was a 12 hour drive that took us 24 hours. Through a windstorm, overturned semi-trucks, and random coyote charges, we made it there in the nick of time. Mom barely had a pulse or blood pressure and the nurses were sure that we weren't going to make it in time to say goodbye. They had called us several times on the trip. Each time, my sister would answer the phone and look at me with terror, grief and pain in her eyes. We dreaded the call that would say we were too late.
We arrived and found my mother was just a bundle of bones and skin on the bed. We came in and talked to her, stroked her hot hands and arms, told her it was okay. Her heart raced. Her blood pressure sky rocketed. The nurse said she might have a heart attack if she didn't calm down. The nurse also said that there is no way my mother could have known we were there.
My sister and I don't believe that. Mom knew. Somewhere, down in there, she knew. Her mind was there, just wandering and lost. She died shortly after that. She never met my daughter. I think about what my mom said about not dying as her mother did and I feel the same way. I already have the handgun. My husband's father died the same way my mom did - lost and wandering in his own mind. We have vowed that we will not put our children through that. We will take our RV and accidently dump it over the side of a canyon. Or we will ride four-wheelers and wander in the Alaskan tundra. Or we will walk out into the dessert hand in hand to wander - not alone and not lost.
Until then, I will be grateful that I have my mind. I will be grateful that I have time to spend with my interesting children. I will be grateful that I have sisters and brothers and friends to spend money and time with. I will be grateful that my mom gave up her dreams so that I could have this. Thank you Mom. I miss you.