When strangers look at my mom, I wonder if the words that come to them include strength. Possibly not. She walks slowly, anxiously, with a look of confusion often written on her face. A person could probably tell she is, at times, uncomfortable in her own skin. She does not fit a physical definition of strength. Yet I have to guess in God's eyes she is the shining example.
My mom lost her memory almost seven years ago. It happened the day before my oldest son's first birthday, and my good ole parental units were visiting their precious youngest (me) and their newest grandchild (Key) on his very special day. My mom had been experiencing anxiety for a few weeks and had even gone to the emergency room fearing a heart attack. It had, in fact, been a panic attack. After they arrived, she went to go take a nap. When she woke up, she didn't know where she was. My dad found her, terrified, in the bedroom. We went to the emergency room, we scheduled tests, we canceled Key's party. I called my sister, who then called my brothers. Key, my parents, and I met my sis, Carol, in TN. And so was the beginning of the last seven years. In this time, my mom has suffered the initial significant memory loss, two hospitalizations for dehydration caused by ulcerative colitis, a heart attack, numerous ugly bruises from falls, anxiety, treatment for depression, and continued loss of memory. Other than the physical symptoms for the medical conditions mentioned, the doctors cannot find the ultimate cause of her progressing dementia. They can't call it Alzheimer's , because they gave her an IQ test in the midst of all this, and the woman scored a 140. Yes, a 140 - in the middle of bouts of dementia. That's the quick history of her recent past. Now, let's think about the reality of all this. What does dehydration do? It makes you confused. She was already confused before the dehydration, so she was extremely confused when all of it was combined. And ulcerative colitis is just yucky; it is not very easy to feel dignified with that disease. But my mom is a survivor. She survived it twice. She then survived a heart attack and she's still going. She still gets up every day and goes to bed every night. She goes to ride in the car and to church on Sundays. She wants to crawl into bed and not get out. Who can blame her? Yet she chooses each morning to trust my Dad. And he trusts God. It can't be easy, but together they do it. Day in. Day out. It's truly inside out beautiful. Their love is one people envy even when just looking in from a distance. I know because I see it and I hear about it from others every time I go home. It's an example in how to love a spouse. In how to trust in God. In how to get up even when you don't want to. My mom - she's one strong lady. Together my parents are one darn strong example in how to embrace life. It may not have been what they planned, but they don't give up. Her journey, their journey, has been a gorgeous and tangible example to their children in how to grow up. In how to live in faith and trust. Even when all of us children have moved away, when we have all embarked on our own marriages and our own spiritual journeys, my parents continue to parent by the example they set for each of us. Day in. Day out. It's their lifetime of days. And it is powerful and strong and real. One day at a time.
So to my mom, and to both of my parents, I love you.
Happy Mother's Day. May, 2010.