Our life stages are unique, Kathy enjoys sharing her thoughts and stages through her writing and looks forward to learning about yours.
Holding On In The Storm
In this memory I am about to share, I am spinning around in a storm, trying to hold tight to the umbrella with every bit of strength, afraid you may lose something you have always known? These are decisive times when you understand how you get to a point in life, yet you know very little about how you got there, becoming disoriented. These feelings are profound as I reflect on the faithful constancy of my mother, who is releasing her grip as my earthly umbrella of protection!
As I ponder my mother's golden years, I am taken back to a memory of myself as a child--a time when my now frail mother had the answers I needed. Or so I thought! I awakened to a stage of newfound independence in this memory and yet teeter on the unconscious wish for constant maternal protection.
But on this particular day of reflection, I was at long last able to walk home from school unattended. I carried my favorite blue-lined polka-dotted bubble umbrella under my armpit with confidence. Super excited to be a big kid in the walker line at my elementary school one block from my house.
My new freedom was quick to change to daunting fragility, for as I passed the play yard, a foreboding dark cloud formed above my head. An immediate release poured over me just past the school property gate upon noticing it. I struggled in the wind to pop up my umbrella. Once open, I hung on for dear life, attempting to forge through the storm without unraveling. The swirling gusts of wind tried to sweep me off my feet, and with each blast, my mind separated into deep introspection.
My childish thoughts swirled in reaction. Will I make it home, which was within my clouded view. Yet, it was like finding an oasis in a desert to my little brain full of confusion. The wind howled, and I contemplated as philosophically as a ten-year-old can. Thoughts such as I am in this storm holding tight to this umbrella, or is this a dream? If it is a dream, is it a dream of something real? Is this fear warranted, or is this my imagination, and will I wake up soon?
I suppose these confusing thoughts come when trying to process fear and things we don't comprehend. All I understood at that moment was genuine fear. I was out of control and wondering if I could fly in the air like Mary Poppins! My anxiety mounted as I asked God if I would swoosh away so close to my childhood home. I'm speculating, would anyone notice what happened if I disappeared. I may have had a little drama moment while in my childish reaction, but it was scary for a little girl surrounded by a sudden deluge, and I wanted my mommy!
Our Sweet Mama
Thank goodness this experience is a mere childhood memory, and I made it home within minutes, though it felt like hours as a child. My mother had rushed to the gate and quickly had me in her view. Immediately as I saw her, the fear washed away. During the next billowy puff, I was within her grasp. My beautiful mother was always a comfortable haven. I must have finally exhaled as her face brings immediate calm, and I snuggle into the warmth of her hugs.
Today, decades later, I’m grateful to reflect on the woman who taught me how to be a wife, mother, sister, Grammy, and friend. But, hold on; I have to share one more poignant memory; I am an adult in this one. I think back to the day I became a mother myself with the birth of my first child. The morning after the delivery, I was quiet and alone with my mother in my room as my husband rested. Then, they brought my newborn to me, and I quickly removed the swaddle to take a good look, counting her toes and fingers. Then, in a moment of despair, I stop, turn to my sweet mother, and say, “I hope I can do this, and I can be for her what you are to me.”
Of course, I could not imagine holding a candle to her example. But still, in my doubting, her gentle eyes were tearing as she stated, “You are going to do great, you’re my girl, and you’ve got this!” As immediate as the storm swell of my childhood, the hospital room overflows with calm. I take a cleansing breath and again nuzzle into the possibilities of her words—Quizzical how she works her magic.
Now, an umbrella is a covering in the storm, a shield, if you will, and while I have a beautiful faith in God, my mother was the first to teach me about Him. Therefore, her protection and love allowed me to soar to new heights while knowing God was in control.
My mother was not perfect, no one is, but she was close. She could admit her doubts and show that we all occasionally react to the day’s stress. However, to her grandchildren, she is infallible, and as her children, we have one of the best. Perhaps she had a flaw or two, but she showed what a prayer warrior should practice and not just preach. Unfortunately, these days the grip on her umbrella is loose. We try to help, but relinquishing that control is tricky.
As this Mother’s Day approaches, I visualize the memory of that day when I was ten years old, a first-time walker in elementary school. The most beautiful part is my world was right as soon as I saw her in my sight. I also no longer cared about the philosophical thoughts swirling through my head only moments before in the center of the storm. All that mattered was my sweet mother knew I would be frightened, and the person who loved me the most was rushing to get to me as desperately as I was trying to get to her.
Today I am older than she was at these periods that I have shared. My lovely mother turns a year older, close to this Mother’s Day. I have to say, it is bittersweet. I am noticing the increased struggle to remember things from one day to the next. I carefully listen, trying to follow the rabbit trail as she wanders off in our conversations, only to stop midway and rarely return to her original thought. I understand entirely, as I drift; we all do as we age. I see the frailty of the matriarch as she often looks like a bewildered little girl herself, flailing to hold on to her bubble umbrella in the storm. I am rushing to get to her, and she doesn’t always see me in her view.
When I see her in person, there is pure joy as her face lights up, and I am again her little girl snuggling as close as I can get. She lives far from me, so creating these memories is priceless. My heart is sad that I cannot be with her more often, and I seek every possibility for our visits as I witness dementia slowly taking her away. I understand one time soon; she may not recognize me, the woman she raised with abundant love.
She is a little lost occasionally. I see her bewildered state, wondering the time of day, or is she in a dream—even a note of frustration when she is unclear of where or what she is saying or doing. Yet, I still see many glimpses of the steadfast faith-filled woman who raised five children. But I can’t help but notice the fear and anxiety when she cannot control what is happening in her beautiful mind.
My mother was and continues to be the dream mom everyone wishes to have. She is everything to her five children, a slew of grandchildren, and countless others from years of loving on people. In her youth, she was a feisty, fun older sister of a single sibling. Her childhood escapades still create laughter as we share them to this day. Her stories are vital because they are her memories, and we love to hear them without tiring, as together, they are pieces of her magnificent life.
One Day She Will Not See Me In Her View
I must share a few of our favorite stories about our matriarch. When my mother was a young child, she once pulled flowers from a backyard and then hurried around the front to sell them to whom she thought was her unsuspecting neighbor. You got to love her entrepreneurial processing.
The helper she is, she helped her Mama by painting the bathroom without even being asked. However, the use of bright red nail polish may not have been the optimal choice to make her vibrant vision come to life. I bet the house had a fragrance of acetone for quite a few days after that fiasco.
One of my treasured stories from the vault is when she got hold of her Father’s cutting shears and went down the block, snipping all the bushes’ perfect points right off the top. She was helpful to a fault, a little sneaky as a young child, creative and funny.
She grew into a gorgeous young woman, who drew the attention of the fellas, but eventually, she landed her eyes on my daddy, and that is where her eyes stayed for over fifty beautiful years before his death quite a few years back now. She still has eyes for only him as she talks to his picture posted at her bedside. Her smile still beams as she speaks of him, and their love story continues within her heart until they reunite.
She was a nurse when nursing was strict and daunting! She loves the Lord and is the best Mama a girl could have! I want to slow the storm of dementia that makes the distance farther with each visit.
I see her get frustrated as she tries to process the events and people around her. Yet, I still see that smile and girlish giggle with new experiences and reminiscing. I also know one day it will be nearly impossible for her to get to me, no matter how hard she is holding onto her bubble umbrella. When that day comes, I hope I will be ready to encourage her, as she did me, to get home safe to those welcoming arms.
While I never will be ready, it is a little easier knowing she is going home to the one who loves her even more than I do. That would be my daddy and our loving Father in heaven. I know when that day comes, I will want to be swept away with her and hold on to her umbrella as she flies up into the air like our Mary Poppins. But I also know that is not how it works. So I will stay put, holding on to my sweet memories as long as I can. I will remember her lessons while loving my family as she taught me well.
In closing, I share one more thought. Birthday Gestures to my sweet mother are essential! She celebrates you as if you are the only one in the world. The birthday cards she gives are always a special treat and exude love right off the page into one’s heart. For years she has signed them Love, Mom. This year she wrote, Love Forever, Mom! My heart burst with gratitude and tears. Why did she add the word forever? Does she know the grip that tethers her here to us is slipping? Oh, my sweet Mama, hold tight to your umbrella for a wee bit longer. But when it is time for our Mary Poppins to fly, enjoy that flight back home away from the storms of this life. You helped mold our hearts and deserve everything magical that waits when you find your way back home. The best part is who will meet you at the gate with arms wide open, and you will nuzzle into His warmth.
I miss Her - (This - My Heart Take a Listen!)
© 2021 Kathy Henderson