Mother’s Day is one of those holidays that delivers mixed emotions for me. While I cherish the idea of honoring our mothers and celebrate as each of you do who they are and what they have done for each of us, the day also brings a bit of sadness for me because I lost my mother nearly four years ago and there is not a day that passes that I do not miss her. On a day when I see others spending time with their Mom’s I wish that I had more time with mine.
I am very political and enjoy not only following politics but the discourse that a healthy political discussion makes. Mom on the other hand could care less about politics. In fact other than the President she could not tell you who held what office and in most cases that there were any other offices other than President.
I lost her in 2005 at the age of 81. The only time in my lifetime that I had known my mother to vote was in 1960 when she voted for John F. Kennedy. Not because she thought that Kennedy especially expressed her political beliefs, because Mom really did not have any particular political beliefs. But she simply voted for JFK because he was, “good looking.” That was Mom. Politics and things political bored her so she chose not to pay much attention. Besides politicians interrupted her Soap Operas and game shows from time to time and that was frustrating!
Yet her lack of political belief did not stop her from influencing mine. In fact much of what I believe and understand both morally and politically comes from the example and lessons that I learned over the years from Mom. Her calm demeanor and integrity helped greatly to make me the man that I have become and her legacy does not end with me because those same values that she passed on to me are those that I have tried to pass on to my son and when he becomes a father will be passed on to his children.
I don’t think that she really understood the difference between Democrat and Republican or in fact even cared. In fact after the election of 1960 she never registered to vote because she thought that whoever everyone else elected to The White House was fine by her. She did once comment about Ronald Reagan being elected by asking me, “wasn’t he Governor or something when we lived in California ?” When I told her he was, she just shook her head and said, ” I liked him better in the movies.”
I asked he if she thought he would be a good President and she said she thought he would but that movies were a lot better than the stuff in Washington and he would have been better off sticking to acting because of it. She did not care about Reagan’s politics she just thought that being an actor was a better profession because it made more sense to her!
That was the last time that I tried to discuss politics with Mom because I realized that it was no use trying to change her mind and get her out to vote because she truly could care less about politics and it was something that she was as adamant about avoiding as I was about following. So politics was off the table with Mom from that point on and knowing Mom she was likely glad that I quit bugging her about it.
But though not politically minded Mom lived her life with conservative values that were obvious in the way she thought and believed about life itself and how she looked at others. She did not look at conservative or liberal as an ideology she just believed that life was important from the moment we are conceived and that everything about life should be cherished as well as caring for and cherishing the lives that we come in contact with throughout our own.
She believed in giving the shirt off her back if someone truly needed it but that what we had in life was something that we earned through hard work and not because as she put it, ” some yo yo in Washington gives it to us.” That is probably the most political statement that I ever heard my Mom make. And to Mom that wasn’t political just a fact of life that she believed. Nothing in life was given to you, it was earned because you worked for it.
Her philosophy was that if someone else had more than you it was because they worked harder or had a better business mind that gave them more success and no one had the right to take away what someone else worked for regardless of how much they had. But she would always follow this thought with the words. “as long as what they had was earned legally! ”
In December 2000 my brother went to visit Mom for Christmas and noticed that something was wrong. She had a doctors appointment already scheduled and he took her. The doctor asked my brother as he pulled him aside, “what he wanted to do about her condition.” When he asked what condition he was told that Mom was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. When asked how long this had been going on the doctor told my brother a few months. It turns out that Mom had hidden the diagnosis from us so we would not worry about her. That was typical Mom.
By February Alzheimer’s had quickly advanced and late one night I received a call from a police officer who was with my Mom and several emergency workers who were called to Mom’s home because she was wondering the halls in her apartment building. She was very agitated and I had to talk to her over the telephone to calm her as they sedated her in order to take her to a nursing facility that we had already pre-arranged at the doctors advice because he had warned us that Mom’s condition was deteriorating so quickly that staying with either my brother or myself was not an option. I spent many days feeling like I had betrayed Mom during that phone conversation which calmed he for the trip to the nursing facility.
When I visited her there though I saw Mom happy because she was in a protected environment.
She danced with others in he new home and even became the resident kleptomaniac because she thought everything in everyones room was hers. Whenever something came up missing workers knew to look in Mom’s room and they would find it. They thought it was cute and loved my Mom’s happy go lucky attitude.
The last time Mom remembered me was Easter 2002. After that I was just another person who stopped by to see her until about a year before we lost her when her mind failed her completely and her body followed. For her last year she was mostly non responsive. Then on August 4, 2005 the call we had all dreaded came and the family was called in because she had about 48 hours. Mom lived in Rhode Island because that is where her parents were buried and she would not accept living anywhere else in her final years. No matter what my brother and I thought.
I had just had surgery and my doctor said I could no fly so we drove from South Carolina to Rhode Island. When we arrived at the nursing facility my cousins were already there and my brother and I sat by her bedside. Her breathing was shallow and she was laying on her side almost curled up in a ball. I leaned over and whispered in her ear and for the first time in more than a year Mom responded. She gently turned toward me and looked me in the eye and smiled. I told he that it was alright and that she did not need to hold on for us any longer. She understood and drifted off to sleep as the wonderful heart that had given so much to all of us beat for the last time.
Anyone will tell you that their Mother was a saint. I am no different. Mom was always there and had a laugh, a pat on the shoulder or a hug for whatever situation that any of us had to face. Her laugh was infectious and her advice was always sound even when at first it may not have made much sense.
Mom, I still miss you everyday and though I know you are happier than ever as you are running through the heavenly places the place the Lord has prepared for us, I wish I could tell you to your smiling face, Happy Mother’s Day. But since I cannot, I say it here. Happy Mother’s Day Mom and I love you.
Ken Taylor http://theliberalslies.blogspot.com