Thou art thy mother’s glass, and she in thee
Calls back the lovely April of her prime.
— William Shakespeare
I have not been a good daughter.
This truth occurred to me last year as I made a far too infrequent trek home to my hometown to make an surprise trip to see my parents.
And that knowledge deeply troubles me. I have always prided myself on being family-oriented. And perhaps in the past that was true.
I suppose I could blame my lack of presence in the lives of the ones I hold the most dear — my parents and my brother — on an increasingly heavy workload, conflicting schedules, the economy and rising gas prices.
The fact is, I have.
But truth be told, none of those reasons were why I found myself looking for excuses not to make the drive home.
During a trip to the dentist’s office a few years back, my doctor asked me if I was allergic to anything. When I told him I had an impressive allergy to pain, we all had a good chuckle. Only thing was, I wasn’t kidding. I have a very low threshold for pain; physical in particular, but more often of late, emotional as well.
Which is why I don’t make the trek home as often as I should. You see, these days, it hurts to be at home.
Some years ago, my mom was diagnosed with dementia. A very broad term, in most cases dementia is the precursor to a truly insidious disease — Alzheimer’s. Several years ago, Mom was diagnosed with a very rare form of Alzheimer’s — early on-set. It affects people decades earlier than most, leaving in its wake a devestation of an immeasurable magnitude.
The diagnosis came as a shock to us, as my mother, in her early 50s, was relatively young. At the time of her diagnosis, my grandmother was living with my folks, having herself been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s several years previously.
I watched as my grandmother, once a strong, independent woman possessing a keen intellect and a razor sharp wit, evolve into a stranger caught in perpetual stasis; stuck in a world that no longer existed. I watched as she slowly forgot me; the memory of her granddaughter stored in synapses that failed to fire any longer.
So when the doctors said Mom was, in effect, heading down the same road, I slowly began the process of distancing myself from her. No more phone calls home in the middle of the week just to say hi, no more impromptu shopping trips, no more late night conversations that only mothers and daughters seem to share.
Mind you, I honestly don’t think any of this was intentional on my part. It was just easier that way, at least for me, the resident coward. Any guilt I felt at the virtual abandonment of my mother I shoved away deep in the recesses of my mind, much like I would hide dirty clothes in a closet if company were to drop in unexpectedly. I ignored any twinge of conscience that would arise, undermining it with assertions to myself that I was an important person, with an important job — I was making tracks, making a name for myself. Surely Mom would understand
So, during this time, I watched from af far as my father watched his wife of 30 years slowly, then increasingly, decline, and I turned a blind eye to it.
I watched from a far as my brother suffered daily what I, his senior by 11 years, could barely withstand during occasional and begrudging trips home.
My distance did not go unnoticed and my father slowly stopped filling me in on the harsher aspects of life in the Mosby household. I told myself it was a trick of light and not tears that would well in my mother’s eyes, when on infrequent trips home, she would embrace me and tell me she missed me.
I did nothing short of packing up, moving off and forgetting to write home. And that is a truth, in retrospect, of which I am deeply ashamed.
So, ultimately, when I was asked to come home and help take care Mom, I packed up the life I was so comfortable with and headed home to a rather uncertain one.
And while it hasn't been an easy life this past year, I'll never regret coming home.
So, today, as children across the nation recognize the role of mother, I think maybe, just maybe, I'll be able to appreciate it a little more this year than I did last year. Because now, I recognize the precious gift I have been given — the opportunity to love my Mom as she has loved me and the chance to say things that need to be said before it’s too late.
And there isn't any gift better than that.
Logan Mosby is Content Editor for Writerspace.com.