Message from Mom

As the middle child in a large family, I never had Mom all to myself.  In childhood there were always older or younger children demanding her attention. Throughout my adult life, I lived several hours away and saw her only on holidays or occasional visits.  When Mom developed dementia and suddenly needed more attention, she moved to a memory care unit in my area.  It was a family decision and seemed a logical choice.  After all, I’m a registered nurse with a background in gerontology.

Even so, I worried about the added responsibility of having Mom nearby. I considered it my duty.  She was my mother and I would do my best to make her last days as good as possible.

I’d stop almost every day after work or during my lunch break. Mom loved seeing me and enjoyed extra time with our kids and grandkids. Short term memory problems made it hard for her to converse about anything except the past. We spent hours talking about old times.  Mom shared stories of her childhood, hard times from World War II and life with my dad on the dairy farm. She poured out her heart to me, telling me details that she had never shared with any of my siblings.  Her father was an alcoholic and her childhood was chaotic because of his drinking.  She married unwisely and struggled to become her own person.

I would listen until she tired of speaking and then I would tell her about my day, both the good and the bad. I was writing a novel in my spare time and often shared the struggles of writing and publishing.  Sometimes I read passages to her as she dozed on her bed. She seemed to like the sound of my voice although often she laughed at the funny parts so I knew she was listening.

It was during this time that I learned to know my mother.  She always seemed to say the right thing.  She celebrated success with me and clucked a sympathetic, “oh dear,” for the disappointments.  For the first time in my life I felt like a pampered, only child.  Though I had hoped my visits would help her, I found they became my strongest source of emotional support.

Mom died in the spring of 2010 after two years in the memory care unit. I had learned to depend on her and dreaded a future without her. My new novel was released the day after her funeral but even this achievement felt flat and listless without her.

Shortly afterward, I dreamed a beautiful and vivid dream. Its colors popped brighter than anything seen in this world. Mom, young and lovely, sat on the mossy edge of a vigorous, flowing stream against a backdrop of verdant, green leaves.  Light golden hair curled over her shoulders and her blue eyes glowed as she dipped her fingers into the flowing water.  Her face wore a delighted, astonished expression—like a child receiving a miraculous gift greater than her wildest expectations.

She looked at me and waved, calling my name in a youthful, strong voice. “Hurry!  What’s taking you so long?”

I awoke from that dream with a catch in my throat. Mom was not really gone, just waiting for me in a place of supreme beauty and happiness. I knew I would one day join her at that beautiful river.

The dream stays with me as the years pass.  When I am feeling lonesome, I pull it out and remember how Mom waved and called for me to join her.  It won’t be long.


One Comment

  1. Niomi Rohn Phillips says:

    This is a beautiful story, Candace. And I needed it today! Wish I could share it with a youngest daughter who feels neglected and left out.

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