May 10, 2015: Today I paused to reflect on how I honour my mother every day. Here are five of the most important ways for me (there are 50 more here):
1) See her
On a practical level, I saw her physically almost every day for five years and supported her as she lived with dementia. I know our time together nourished her spirit as well as mine and brought us both joy. On a spiritual level, I saw her in a much deeper way as the person she always was and continued to be despite living with dementia. I tried to capture the meaning of that in this short poem.
There may be no greater gift to another human being than to really see them. Conversely, the most hurtful thing one can do to another is to isolate them and treat them as if they are invisible. It happens to scores of people with dementia. I know from experience how soul-destroying it can be.
2) Love her and tell her so
Having let go of any judgments, resentments and hurts that lay between us made it easy for me to really love and appreciate my mother in a way that sometimes surprised even me. I feel lucky to have found my way to this place of forgiveness. I was also fortunate to be able to tell her I love her while she was still alive. Saying “I love you,” can be a hard thing to do; it forces us to be vulnerable. But if we don’t say it today, we may not be able to say it tomorrow. There may not be a tomorrow.
3) Give her the most precious gift
Material things and money come and go. Time is much more precious. Each moment exists for only a heartbeat and then is gone with the wind. Some moments, maybe even lots and lots of them, may be retained if one’s memory remains intact; but if we lose our memory to dementia or something else, all of the stored moments vanish with it. When that happens, each new moment we live in the present becomes an even greater treasure.
The gift of time is priceless. I honoured my mother by giving her mine.
4) Be true blue to cherished values
Mom and I didn’t always agree. Our values are similar, but not the same. I am my mother’s daughter, but I am not my mother. I respect her and the life she “gave” me every day by being true to my values, living a life of integrity, and being the best person I can be. I cherish honesty, freedom, growth and learning. She would be proud of that, even if she hasn’t always agreed with all of my decisions or been able to see me for the person I am, which I blogged about on Mother’s Day 2012.
5) Keep going
Mom was a fighter. So am I. She didn’t give up easily. Neither do I. Even when all seems lost, I will fight for what I believe is right until I simply cannot fight anymore. That determination is in my genes, and it’s partly what kept me by her side as she lived with dementia despite overwhelming challenges.
Blogger Betty Eitner, whose mother died in 2010, shared a like sentiment in this tribute piece; she said:
“She was a fighter, a survivor and taught me to never give up and to fight for what I believed was right. It’s not always easy to stand-my-ground but she always supported me and I know she’s still there beside me, giving me strength.”
Like Eitner, I will keep on keeping on in honour of my mom even though she’s not on this earth anymore; I will do what she did and live life fully engaged until I breathe my last breath. Millions of daughters and sons worldwide will do the same. Hats off to us and the mothers that raised us.