My mother died late last year. She was 82.
Before you have any thoughts about her having led a full life - no, she really didn't.
First and foremost was the anxiety. Mom came from a strict German Catholic family, and was forever worrying about everything.
As a child of the Great Depression, and the wife and mother of a handful of alcoholics who had already buried two sons, she could be forgiven for having her fears. But those fears were imparted onto me, the youngest of the four kids, in ways that made it clear that having a good time was A) wasteful of money and B) potentially dangerous.
I have plenty of guilt trip stories: She once begged me to get a flu shot because didn't want to "bury another boy." That anxiety prevented her from enjoying life, and took me years to get over the residual effects it had on me.
The disease that eventually put her in the nursing home was Multiple Sclerosis. It's hard to enjoy life when you can barely get out of bed, walk without assistance, or move like you've been moving for your entire life. She was diagnosed when I was in high school; she lived with this disease for 25 years. When she fell and broke her arm on my brother's birthday years ago, we moved her to the nursing home near me.
Mom's sister eventually moved to same home not long before she died. Aunt Barbara was recovering from six rounds of chemotherapy for bone cancer. I got the call from the nursing home three days after Christmas that Mom wasn't doing well. Barbara and I were in the room with her when she died that evening. She wasn't aware of our presence, but she died with family there. I saw her take her last breath. I think about that a lot.
I've lost other people in my life. My father and two brothers. I was closer to all three of them. Mom never really understood me, never understood that trying to control me through guilt was damaging and disrespectful to me. But she was my mother, and as such, I miss her.
I'll be doing the annual Bike MS event this month. It'll be 75 miles from a town south of my home, and leading back to my home town. I'm over 100 pounds overweight, and have no business taking on a 75 mile ride at this time, but I'm going to do 100.
The so-called "century ride" is a milestone for any cyclist. 100 miles in a day is an amateur cyclist's version of running a marathon. You don't have any pounding on your legs, but your fingers, toes, neck, and rump get numb after you've been on the bike for 8 hours or so.
But that's all trivial compared to what she went through.
And so I will endure 100 miles for Mom.5 Comments