Some days things just seem to go smoothly, while others….well….they deceptively appear to be running smoothly until you hit one of those speed bumps that knocks your alignment off. This morning was not one of those smooth mornings…my alignment felt crooked from the get go. It started off shaky. I mean literally, it was shaking. We had a 4.4 earthquake here in lovely SoCal and that threw me into one of my Mama memories.
Several years back, I took up residence in the local hospital for about a month due to complications from a minor surgery. I remember telling Mom beforehand that she didn’t even need to come it was so minor, but she insisted she be there. Luckily, for strong headed daughters like myself, moms do know best. She came and all but moved into that hospital with me. She was there when I woke up and the last visitor before I slept each night. But Mom was never just a visitor anywhere she went. By the time I was off morphine and cognoscente of the fact that a week of my life had already passed, Mom was fast friends with everyone on my wing. She knew their life stories and hopes and dreams for their futures. She knew each one by name and their children’s and grandchildren’s names. Mama was a people person. She took the time it takes to truly know someone, which simply put means….she listened to them.
Well, one of those nights during her stay, somewhere between midnight and a newspaper hitting the front door, the ground started shaking. Now, Mom had never been in an earthquake before, but somewhere in time she had witnessed on TV or read in a magazine that people run out their front doors during earthquakes. So there Mom stood, in the middle of the yard, in a neighborhood where she knew no one, alone. No one to talk to. No one to answer her questions. No one to rehash what had happened. That, for my mother, had to have been complete torture!! Her first earthquake and no one to talk to about it. So what does a southern lady from Texas do in that situation? What else?She woke up the neighbors to talk with them about the earthquake they’d just slept through. Although we all got a good laugh the next day over this, it left me wondering if my neighbors would ever talk to me again.
So the days rolled on and on and each day Mama showed up, arms full of goodies she’d made for the staff. Of course, this was pure torture for me since I was on an ice diet. I was licking ice while they were all devouring delicacies. It didn’t matter though. We were all laughing, sharing stories, photos, and gossip, just passing away the hours as if at a party instead of in the middle of illness, death, and uncertainty. Mama gave all the details to my visitors about what had gone wrong and how long I was expected to be there. She called our family to keep them abreast of my progress. I had no worries. I was left purely with the luxury of getting better. I look back on that and realize just how significant that sacrifice was for my mother.
Time may pass, but I find myself continuing to thank her for that and how selfless her act of kindness was. I know she was my mother and that we sometimes expect that they will do whatever we need, regardless of age or distance. However, it’s a totally different thing when they are put to the test and not only fulfill that hope, but far exceed it as well. My mother put her entire life on hold as she basically moved into my empty home to visit me every day in the hospital, having no one to go home to for comfort or to confide in. This was not my only hardship at that time. I was also in the midst of an emotionally draining, turbulent, very sad separation from my husband. She knew this and she stayed, knowing that she could provide the kind of peace that I needed at that time. She did this knowing that her life would need to be placed on hold so that mine could thrive.
I remember the tears that fell when she had to leave. I didn’t want her to go. The bright light that had fueled me back to health faded and left me sitting in my own reality. I know just how lucky I was that she stayed. I know how lucky I was to have her in my life. I know how lucky I am to have my memories of her. So today, on St. Patrick’s Day, while the word luck was being tossed about freely, I stopped to thank my lucky stars for all that Mama did for me, gave up for me, and loved in me.