Saturday, April 23, 2011

Shopping with Mom

Today, I went shopping with my Mom and Lily. It started out just Lily and me, but I picked my mom up and took her, because whether she needs to be occupied or not, I need to feel like I keep her occupied. I am afraid that if she's alone she'll be depressed. I don't really think she is, but I don't want her to be. Brad says I project a lot shit onto my mom. He's right, as usual.

So, we went shopping. Lily and my mom walk very slowly. Painfully slowly. Lollygagging, looking at everything, just generally making me crazy because: I walk fast. That "unable to hold a conversation" pace you read about. In fact when Brad and I shop together, he inevitably says at least once, "Who are you racing??" I don't know. When I was little, my mom walked very fast. I learned to walk fast so I didn't get lost in JCPenney, because that happened once and I was terrified. My mom did a lot of things differently when I was little, and more and more I am painfully aware of those things. Funny how losing someone you love makes you cling tighter to everyone else--appreciating what they bring to your world, anxious of the space that's left when they're gone.

I notice with terror, her unsteadiness, her frailty, her forgetfulness. I look at pictures of her and think how wonderful she looks, but when I see her, I wonder if she looks older than she did yesterday. I have been counting months, years, trying to treasure whatever time I have left with my mom. I want to enjoy every moment. I want to repay her for the times I was mean and disrespectful. I figure if I give her ten good years, that might almost make up for how awful I was as a teenager. Not quite, but it's a valiant effort.

When my dad died, I didn't have any regrets. I knew how much he loved me, Brad, our kids, and he knew how much we all loved him. There was never a moment of, "I wish I would have told him..." because I told him everything. And I don't have regrets per se with my mom, but she's a much tougher nut. My dad used to say, "If you walk around with your heart hanging out, someone's gonna step on it." While it has been trampled repeatedly, I still walk around with my heart hanging out. I tell people what I think. I try never to pass up an opportunity to be kind or to let people know how much they mean to me. Course, I also tell them when they piss me off.

My mom is not like that. She's much more of an enigma. She doesn't say "I love you," except when she's traveling. I guess in case her plane should go down on the way home, she wants to make sure she's covered. She doesn't say, "Good job!" or "I'm proud of you!" even though I am pretty sure she feels it. She doesn't even say when she's mad at you; she just doesn't call and has an edge to her voice when you call her. Once I told my brother that I got tired of hearing about his kid every time I talked to my mom--if I feel it, I usually say it--and he laughed and said, "Don't you realize that all I hear about is YOUR kids?" Nope, I hadn't realized that. So she says it to other people. She says it in her actions. She just doesn't say it to you.

A long time ago, I realized that apologies come in many forms other than the traditional, "I'm sorry," and if you waited to hear those words, you often missed much more heartfelt expressions of remorse. I realize that my mom's expressions of love are not as upfront as mine, but they are there. To date, this is the lesson of my life: Your way isn't necessarily the right way, and it certainly isn't the only way. And I keep learning it over and over and over...