Category Archives: Mother

I had every intention …

of blogging about driving around today with the convertible top down, the music loud and the wind in my face; of blooming trees and budding flowers, puffy clouds in a blue, sun-drenched sky and the perfectness of a warm April day.

But I just hung up the phone after talking to my mom and the things I previously held up in importance faded into the background.

She is a rock, a beacon, a lighthouse, a safe haven.

She knows everything about me, the things that shamed me and, at one time or another, shamed her.

In my youth, I hurt her deeply and couldn’t find within myself the knowledge or ability to make it right.

She knows of my dreams and aspirations and is always the first one to encourage me even as she puts her own dreams and aspirations on hold.

It isn’t easy to explain to someone that thoughts, images, words, experiences, memories and a myriad of other flotsam runs through my head, in a constant stream, even when I’m sleeping.

And that is when I am at my baseline and not in manic mode.

She takes it in stride without judgement or condemnation and, I have come to realize, did so even when I felt I was being judged and condemned.

Nobody can condemn me any more than I condemn myself.  It is the nature of my world and I live with it.

She knows, though, simply by looking at my face or hearing my voice ,when I am in the throes of mania or, thankfully more rarely, the despondency of a depressive crash.

She understands that sometimes, I have to go away; from her, from myself, from everyone and just be dormant.

She knows these things and doesn’t hold them against me.

There is no “well, you did this or that or the other thing”.

She isn’t like that.

She is patient and kind.

She is, without doubt, the Proverbs 31 woman.

I would like to be like her, but that is an aspiration that will never come.  It isn’t that my cup is half empty, but that I live, as much as I can, in a reality-based existence.

She is a light in a dark place and I migrate to her when I need simply to know that someone loves me unconditionally.

I tell her I love her, but how do you describe to someone that  you cannot imagine a life without them.

Unless I die first by some freak event, by the natural order of things, I will lose her at some point in my life.

I cannot imagine a world without my mom.

So I will put that with other things I cannot imagine into a box that lives in the outer-regions of my heart.

When I am manic, the box will break open and I will have to face the possibility, but for now, when I am am simply on overdrive, it is secure in the  little locked box.

She inspires me with her acceptance and encouragement and that, without doubt or reservation, beats blooming trees in springtime seen from a back road drive with the convertible top down.

I love you, Mom .

A houseguest

 

My Mother's Mother's bleeding hearts

My Mother’s Mother’s bleeding hearts

 

This is how she makes me feel ... cherished

This is how she makes me feel … cherished

All of that being said about my mom, I want to extrapolate to another area and  extend prayers and encouragement to a friend that I have long lost touch with.  She lost her son, the light of her world and is now lying among the shattered pieces of her world.  Keep Pam Begley in your prayers when you pray.  I cannot fathom losing a child.

 

fear and uncertainty …

filled his blue eyes, open wide and full of worry.  At first glance, from the hallway, the only visible things were a single foot protruding from beneath a blanket and a partially filled urinal on the tray table.

I wondered, before walking into the room to speak with him, what I would find.  I was already feeling badly for him simply knowing that a container holding his urine sat on a table where soon, his lunch would be placed.

I felt that surely, had there been family present, that would not have been the case and, not to my surprise, I found him alone.

He was worried.  It was evident in his sad, sad eyes.  They were wide open, showing the incredible blueness, wrinkled at the edges from a lifetime of emotion; laughter, tears, anger.

He was a widower.  He had children, but his voice betrayed his attempt at courage as he spoke of wishing to go home.  His blue eyes became even more sad as he spoke of a home that he knew, in his heart, he would not return to.

I felt a wave of righteous fury toward his children, none of whom had been to visit him during his week-long stay in the hospital, as he spoke of having nobody to care for him.

I thought of my own father.  Thought of his sadness were he to lose my mother and be left to live out his days without the woman that he loved more than life.

Many times, and to my mother I have said such, I have prayed that if my parents cannot die at the same time, I hope my dad goes first.  I cannot bear to even entertain the thought of him trying to cope without my mother.  He is strong in body and spirit, but would be lost without her.

She, on the other hand, is tough as nails.  A survivor full of beauty and strength and would, though with sadness and tears, move on and make the best of a seriously bad situation.

While her tears would cut me deeply, tears shed by my dad shatter me.  I would be of little use to him, not that he would last for long without her as he would soon die of sadness.  I know this as surely as I know the sun rises in the East.

But I digress.  I wasn’t speaking of my parents, but of poor, sad-eyed mister who lay in the hospital bed, dwarfed by the room, confused by the lingo, hurt by the antipathy of his children.

He wanted to go home and held, other than that wish, no other ambition or hope.

It would not come to pass.  He would not go home.  Not to the home where he lived for over fifty years with his wife before she died.  Not to the home where his children, who had now abandoned him, had been raised.

He would not go back to where the garden once thrived with vegetables and a myriad of flowers in the summertime, the trees bursting full and golden in Autumn.

He would not walk the familiar halls that had brought him comfort in his time of need.

He would not sleep in the bed that conformed to his body due to years of use.

He would be a stranger among strangers.

It took all of my strength and everything I could dig from the depths of myself to not burst into tears while speaking to him; seeing him old and broken and alone.

His wide eyes, full of worry, filled me with compassion and empathy.  I, in my mind and heart, brought him home with me.  Though there is an unwritten rule among nurses to not become too attached, he has been here, dancing on the edges of my thoughts, since the day I met him.

I have cried for him, prayed for him and inwardly cursed his children for their inattentiveness.   I want, in these last years of his life, happiness for him.

I try no to get too attached, but I am human and I fall in love with those the world has so blithely displaced.  He will remain in my prayers and though I will likely never see him again, his eyes will haunt me.

They haunt me now as do so many others; young, old, suffering, addicted, betrayed, sickened, world-weary souls who need, more than anything else, to be loved.

I have said it before and I reiterate it now … I am too softhearted to be a  nurse.  I always have been.

violinhands

Leviticus 19:32  ~ Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honor the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the Lord.

Posts about Mother’s Day …

and how much we love and appreciate our mothers will likely be abundant.  My mother knows already how much I love and cherish her as I tell her every day.  My daughter tells me regularly that she loves me and shows it in a thousand beautiful little ways.

This post is, in a round-about way about Mother’s Day, and yet along a different vein altogether.

While for many, even those who have lost their mothers to death, Mother’s Day weekend is a time of tearful celebration.  It is a time to reflect on family, on love, on life itself.

But the celebratory spirit doesn’t reach everyone.

My heart is heavy tonight for those that I both know personally and those I simply know of, who have been unable to conceive a child.  A child that would be cherished above all else.  A child to complete the circle of life as far as they are concerned.

Imagine a day where children are celebrating their mothers,  mothers are celebrating their children and yet, for so many, there is no child to celebrate.

No hand print cards.

No artwork on the refrigerator.

No smells of talcum powder and baby shampoo.

Only an emptiness that threatens to consume them; mind, body and spirit.  A brokenness that soon leads to feelings of failure and inadequacy that fill each waking hour of every single day.   Knowing that they would give the last drop of blood in their body for a single moment of holding that tiny life, born of themselves, in their arms.

Imagine the anger and frustration, the anxiety, depression and psychological pain that comes from the anticipation followed by disappointment, month after year after decade until there is nothing left but a hopelessness that destroys everything good and pure in their lives.

It would, I imagine, be all-consuming and destructive on many levels.

Mother’s day, for them, must be like pouring salt in a wound, shattering an already broken heart.

Yes, my heart goes out to them and I am, even as I write this, crying openly for the hopes and fears that they harbor inside themselves.

I wish I could encourage them, hold them against my breast and tell them that everything will be ok.  But in their minds and hearts, everything is not ok.

So I will do the only thing I know to do … I will pray for peace, for hope, for the fulfillment of their dreams and the for the courage  to face whatever tomorrow may bring.  I believe, with everything in me, in the love of a faithful Heavenly Father and while I don’t always understand His ways, I trust him.

I know that such prayers are answered, for I have seen it with my own eyes, felt it with my own heart and rejoiced in the glory of it with my own spirit.

1John 14-15 ~ 14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: 15 And if we know that he hears us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.

Hope is a good thing … and no good thing every dies.

blackandwhite_rainbow

Officially now, into the New Year …

my heart is full of dreams, hopes and fantastical wishes.  My imaginings are more vivid than they have ever been and I feel that surely, I am closer than I was before to reaching that which stirs me.  Even as these pleasing thoughts fill my head and pump through the blood in my veins, filling every cell in my body, I realize, rather disillusioned, that they didn’t reach every cell.

In the background, a chill passes across the recall in my mind and I am, momentarily taken  back to last year.  It was a hard year.  A year full of sickness, injury, tragedy, death and loss.  Not just mine, but the people I know personally; my family and friends as well as those I simply ran across on any given day. I found myself in unusual circumstances and, much of it, even with my annoying (I’m often told) optimism which goes a long way in making me who I am, was hard.

It was harder on others I know, the brokenness they had to face, the loss  –  a dad who lost a brother, an aunt who lost a husband, a daughter who lost a daddy a granddaughter who lost a grandfather; all the same man.  And a friend who lost someone beloved to them, someone inspirational.  Friends, good ones, are irreplaceable.

Multiple people, my mother included, seriously injured themselves in a fall and I, myself injured myself moderately from two separate falls.  Patients come into the office I work and they are hobbling in on canes, crutches; with black eyes and busted ribs.  I fell on the curb.  I fell down the steps.  I tripped on a rug.  I slipped in water.  I got my feet caught in a cord on the floor.  I tripped over a Basset hound.  I find it a bit incredulous that I know so many people who had falls last year.

I’m not going to dwell, though.  I just thought it worth remembering, one last time, how many things God helped me through last  year and to remind myself that He’s the same as He was.

Now, back to more pleasing imaginings.

acornsandleaves

My Mother’s Heart

Tonight, as I edited photographs from the last couple of days, I kept going back, time and again, to the same one.  It was like a hundred more I have taken over the years, with the same shapes and textures, but this time, I saw it in a different light.  I developed the photograph in black and white which brought out each line and crease, each flaw and each vein.  It showed that, although in color, it is nearly perfect, in a pure form, without distractions, my mother’s Bleeding Heart is imperfect and scarred.  My mind began to wander back in time and the years melted away as I saw my mother in a way I can’t ever remember seeing her… as the imperfect jewel that she is.  How her heart must have broken when mine did…  How she, like Mary, must have treasured a lot of things up in her heart.  She hid her hurt, cried when no one could see, and did what needed to be done, whatever it might be.  She cooked and cleaned and did all the motherly things that moms do, but her love is what made home a place I wanted to go.  Knowing she was there was like a balm to a burn… a kind of soothing that comes from a cool cloth on my head… there were special birthday dinners, roller skates, Journey records, leg warmers, ballgames, a huge Andy Gibb poster, a phone in my room, food in the fridge, clean clothes in the closet and a million other things that I took for granted… of course there were disagreements, tears, tantrums, hurt feelings, arguments and, my own signature contribution, plenty of stomping and slamming doors… but when all was said and done, I was me and she was my mom, always ready to run to me if I needed her… Looking back, I see what I’ve known all along… that her heart is beautiful… and so is she.

Proverbs 31:25-31

How Great Is our God – a true story

Have you ever heard a story over and over through the years and realized one day that you hadn’t really heard the story at all and had no clue what may or may not have happened.  Well, as of today, I have.  There is a story that has been told in my family for many years about a woman who was caught in a flash flood.  I guess all the recent rain and flooding brought it up…  The way I understood it  was that there was this woman who was caught in a flash flood, grabbed her kid, jumped out of the car and ran to a neighbor’s house, just as the car was washed away.  My WHOLE life, I have thought this to be the WHOLE story.  A little scary, but nothing to get goosebumps over.  At least not until tonight.  I was talking to mom on the phone and after exclaiming over the rain and puddles and streams and… well, you get the picture – she mentioned this story.  I said, as I have many times in the past, “yeah”, or something else lame like that.  But this time, I said something about the lady getting wet wading through the  water…It was then that I found out that I didn’t know Jack… or Jill either for that matter… but she gave me the real scoop… There was this lady living with her husband and little girl  up on a ridge over near where we go to church.  Driving down the side of the ridge into the valley, she was heading to work and was taking the little one, about eighteen months old, as she did every weekday, to the babysitter’s house.  It was raining, but, as I understand it, it was April… and around here, it rains in April.  Now, if you’ve ever been over in these parts, (or if you are from Ireland or Scotland) you know what rolling hills are and that often, the valley between two hills, over time and necessity, becomes a road.  That’s the way it is when you live in the rolling hills.  It is beautiful to look at, but, as mom told me this story, I realized how incredibly dangerous it could be.  But, I digress… so she was in the car driving down one of these little valley roads, and i use the term road loosely, when it started to rain harder.  She was mildly concerned but didn’t really worry because she’d driven on this road in all kinds of weather without any real trouble.  There was a creek (or a crick, depending) on one side of the road and the hills, quite steep, were on both sides…Having driven that road thousands of times going to church, I can say that it is a bit like driving in a city where you can only see the sky above you, except that it isn’t buildings on either side of you, it’s creation, which is a whole ‘nother ballgame.  Again, I digress… ANYWAY… it began to rain harder and water, which had been trickling down the hills, began to fill the ditch on one side of the car and the creek on the other.  A little further on, the heavenly storehouses of rain burst open and dumped the rain as from a bucket onto the already saturated ground.  The water running off the steep banks quickly became a waterfall of mud, rocks and debris barreling onto and over the car from the creek side.  Now, if you notice, at no point did I mention that the lady or her baby got out of the car.  They didn’t. The water was coming over the hills and onto the road so hard and fast that it pushed the car backwards several feet.  The car began to slide and turn sickly in the road and she tried desperately to turn the wheel away from the creek.  This is where God steps in… I just love it when He does that and love it more when I get to hear about it…  the tire of the car caught in the ditch and became wedged there, keeping it from flipping over into the creek. The water, even muddier than before and now full of rocks and debris, was pounding onto, and over, the top of the car.  Fearing that they would both drown if the car flipped into the creek, she rolled her window down.  This let in a deluge of water through the window.  This is the moment when she realized she was in BIG trouble.  The river of muddy water wasn’t just going over the car, it was pushing against the car with such force that she couldn’t open her door.  She was trapped, with the baby, in a car that was rapidly filling up with water.  She sat the little girl, who had been sitting in the front seat, (remember, this was over 40 years ago so there were no car seats) on the back of the seat to try to keep her out of the water, and rolled down the window on that side.  The water was running in her window and out the other side.  Hoping to let more of the water out, she leaned over and cracked the door on the baby’s side so some of the accumulating water could go out.  By this tiime, the water in the car was up to her bra.  Outside, the world had gone wild.  Lightning slashed the sky like a blade… before one strike could vanish, another one would be there to slit the sky open.  The thunder rolled down the valley like a bellowing bull… and the water continued to rise.  Mom said that at that moment, and I can just hear her saying this, she told me that we would ask Jesus to take care of us.  Time has a way of fooling you when you’re scared, but not only did the rain have to stop, but the water had to stop flowing over the car before she could even consider getting out.  After a period of time, she was able to push her door open, and get out.  The water she stepped into was a river of mud and rocks that came to her knees.  She took me out of the car, (she said this was the only time I cried… and can you blame me for not wanting to get out in that) and carrying me, walked, WALKED, through the muddy water, unable to tell where the creek or the road or the ditch were.  The rocks and debris that she couldn’t even see were there, were hitting her legs. Even so, she didn’t fall… she didn’t even stumble… God at work!!  There were rocks in the road that were bigger than the car she had been driving… in the road, I might add, where we would have been if the car hadn’t slid backward.  Her dress, underwear and bra were full of mud as she carried me, who wasn’t wet except a bit on my feet, to the house of a woman named Acklin… now it is pronounced just like I spelled it, but I have no idea if it’s spelled like it sounds.  She got to Acklin’s house and called Mamaw Daphne and told her we were stranded.  Grandaddy said he’d come on the tractor to get us.  A while later, Mamaw called back and said he couldn’t make it because there were rocks in the road that were BIGGER THAN THE TRACTOR.  So, in the front and the back, there were rocks big enough to crush the car, there was creek full of rushing water and a waterfall coming down on top of the car.  There is no reason we should have lived through that.  God pushed that car in the ditch because He knew the rocks were going to fall.  He saved us, plain and simple.  Jesus protected us, just as a frightened young mother and her little girl asked Him to.  Now I ask you…… HOW GREAT IS OUR GOD???  As I said, I’ve heard that story a million times, but until tonight, I didn’t even know the half of it. (by the way, the babysitter was Granny Minton) My mom is, by far, the bravest woman I have ever known.  And because of what she told me tonight, I feel brave and empowered myself.  I feel like I can do anything… and with the help of the same Jesus who looked out for mom and me on that flooded country road, I can.