A Son's Tribute


Over the past few difficult weeks, on more than one occasion, I've been overtaken with the impulse to pick up the phone and call my mom. That would be standard practice for me in times of trouble or celebration. I wonder if this impulse will ever subside? I read recently that the hardest part about losing a parent is that we no longer feel like a child. It is nearly impossible for me to imagine the rest of my life without my mom. And so, I am taking things day by day, as she would suggest I do.

There are so many seemingly contradictory feelings running through my mind. Regret for the memories yet to be made, but thankfulness for the treasure of memories that we have. Sorrow for the quick progression of a beastly disease, but gratefulness for the shortened suffering. Sadness for not having had a few more meaningful conversations, but peace with knowing that nothing important was left unsaid.

Mom was a person of passion. She invested everything in her relationships with her friends and family. At times, this left her vulnerable, but it was ultimately her gift. She touched people's lives. She counselled. She inspired. She listened. She was tolerant. Of course, she was not perfect. She was truly and fully human. Weeks after her diagnosis, she told me that she knew that she was no saint or hero. I told her that you didn't need a halo to be a saint and you didn't need to be famous to be a hero. She loved being a wife, mother, grandmother and friend. Family was everything to her, and she was everything to her family.

I have never before watched anyone die. The process was like nothing I could have ever imagined, and was both devastating and healing at the same time. The anxiety was accompanied by the peace of being with my family, and the overwhelming support we received from countless people. It did not unfold the way that I expected. Life rarely does. The new reality is going to take a long time to adjust to, but she would want us to go on living--enjoying our lives.

People have remarked that she was young, though she may have disagreed with that sentiment. I wish that she would have had more time. I wish that she could have lived to see her grandchildren grow up. But, I suppose, I would always wish for more time. Mom packed a lot of life into her 59 years. She witnessed seemingly countless miracles in her lifetime, yet I don't know if I had ever seen her more happy than the past year. She was proud of her family and her new house. She felt blessed. She was at peace.

We all had hoped for mom to recover enough from her treatment so that we could squeeze in a few more memorable events; perhaps a final trip to the beach, or a few more football Sundays. At first, I felt bitter that we did not get a chance to do some of these things. Had mom gone to the doctor sooner, would it have made a difference in her outcome? Perhaps, but I have my doubts. We will never know. I do know that had she been diagnosed in the spring, she would have been in treatment during the summer, and unable to spend that time building those wonderful final memories. After some reflection, I've come to regard the memories of this past summer as her final gift to us. I know that she was not ready to die, but I don't believe she died with any regrets.

She taught me so much. She was always there for me when I needed her. She created, raised and nurtured an excellent family. She has touched so many lives. People gravitated toward her. They loved to talk to her. In a world full of moving parts, she was a steady friend. I had always enjoyed introducing new friends to her, because people loved being around her. She has left a legacy more grand than she could have ever imagined. I am proud she was my mother, and I will miss her so very much.

Comments

Brian said…
I don’t feel we ever get over it or deal with it, I think it changes who we are and that change is perceived as acceptance or coping. They will always be on your mind and it will always hurt that their gone. But I promise you, you will eventually become one with the memories of your mom. Or her essence if you like. One day you will see something, or experience something and in the back of your mind you will hear yourself say, “Well, what do you think of that mom?” And you’ll both smile.
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