Mom at her show.

Happy belated Mother’s Day!  In addition to what we do throughout the rest of the year, this is one day that we let our moms know just how important they are to us.

For the past few years my mom has been in a nursing home suffering from dementia.  On my many visits there are times when she knows exactly who I am. There are other times when she will call me by a family member’s name. There are still other times when I’m called a name that must be someone from her past.

I usually visit around the time when they feed her dinner. She has gained weight during her time at this great place which means that she is eating well. You can tell from the condition she is in along with everyone else that is on that floor, that the staff is doing a great job.

Some say that boys are closer to their moms and girls are closer to their dads. In my case I feel that this is definitely true.

It took a number of years before she got so bad that she had to be permanently hospitalized. At first it appeared that she was just being forgetful.  None of us took this too seriously since this is a condition all of us suffer from as we are getting older.

For her it seemed to begin right after she began complaining about having severe headaches. The doctors said that she had bleeding in her brain and began to give her medication that did a marvelous job in not only stopping the bleeding but it also help heal her. We later found out that she had an aneurysm which happened when a blood vessel broke in her brain. It could be considered a stroke.  She had a second stroke and it was this action that led to her being put in a nursing home.

As I sit with her in her room, you can see the determination in her eyes. Even in this weakened state you can almost hear the wheels in her head turning trying to get control of her jumbled thoughts.

This is a very different lady we grew up with.

I can remember the many shopping trips we took to downtown Brooklyn. Before we would begin shopping she would gather the three of us together, look us each in the eye and explain how the trip was going to be. She would tell us that there was a limited amount of money, that we were not to act up and if we did she would point to my dad. He played right along by giving us that mean look to let us know that she meant business.

In fact looking back on those days, it was my mom who may have been the real enforcer. She was never one to beat us although we did receive spankings (spanking are good) when any one of us got totally out of control.

Whenever we did something that she felt was the wrong thing to do, she would lecture us. That may have been worse than the spanking. Once you got spanked it was over. The lectures, though, would appear to go on forever. I don’t know anything about water boarding but that might have been a more appealing punishment.

One thing that my mom had was the gift of listening. When I lived in Ohio, I would spend countless hours talking to her on the phone. We would talk about a lot of different topics. There were many times when I was talking to her that I was high or drunk. Since I have been away from that lifestyle for a long while, I can tell immediately if anyone I was talking to was under the influence.

She must have also been able to tell in my voice what was going on. Despite that she never commented about my condition. Instead she would subtly give me instructions on what I should be doing with my life. She just listened as I sometimes rambled on for what seemed like hours at a time.  Even after I had been sober for a few years she would always interested in what I was saying and what I was doing.

As I wrote earlier that it was the second stroke she had that made it necessary to put her in place that would be able to give her all day care. I’ve learned over these few years to accept the fact that putting her there was a necessary decision. I just am very relieved that she is in a safe place.  This is the place she needs to be.

On one of my recent visits she gave me a glimpse of what it used to be like. She was giving me instructions on something she thought I should be doing. I have no idea of what she wants me to do. Her condition has her sometimes rambling.

All I can do is listen to her as she listened to me for those many years.  Sometimes I’ll ask her a question about what she said and she will give me an answer even though I don’t understand what she is talking about. The important thing is that we are together.

Although Mother’s Day was last week, I need you to stop what you are doing and call your mom right now. Tell her you love her and that you appreciate all that she has done for you.

Perhaps your mom is in a similar place like where my mom is. Go sit with her and although she may not remember who you are, she can be comforted that she is not alone.

I am the guy whose glass is always ½ full.



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