Thanks For Letting Me Call You, Mom.


All the things I’ve done with my mom. I try to make each moment special. I want to hold on as tight as possible. The fleeting life. Memories running through my mind, as if I’m counting steps in a race. Pounding the pavement,with each step, as I bring forth another from the archives.

Yes, I remember that time that I came to her to tell her that her young friend had died. “What?!” She yelled from the top of the stairs. “She is too young!” Then she reminds me of the feud that this friend and another of hers had been having. The other friend, ‘Mary,’ had just died months earlier. She was waiting for a liver transplant, and it didn’t come in time. She was engaged to be married.

This was the saddest event, even after my mother had experienced her own heartbreak, one right after another. Still, she hadn’t lost the ability to feel pain. Mary had a little boy and girl. The boy had Cystic Fibrosis. He died about a year later.

My mother told me that when her friend Betty heard the news, she had a shocking response; “it couldn’t happen to a nicer person.” My mom was angry at this. “How could she be so mad at Mary, that she would say something like this?” She said.

My mom was just beginning to lose her ability to express emotion. I believe it was right about this time. She had already had a breakdown and lost so much. So these were just more bumps in the road of her life of loss.

I remember how I looked to her for protection, but she didn’t seem to have this capacity. It was more like a message of hope, wrapped up in her own despair. “Things will get better.” Is what she would say. I couldn’t understand how I would always get the same words, no matter how bad the circumstances of life could be. “Oh, don’t worry. Just give it to the good Lord. Things will get better.”

“Here we go again.” I thought. “Are these just words she thinks she’s supposed to say? Am I ever going to get the emotional support that I so desperately need?”

But now I’m speaking to my mom, after getting off the phone with my sister. I’ve shared with both my brother and my sister, that mom, is losing ground. “She doesn’t know we’re her children.” I tell my sister.

She was on the phone with her, when I heard my mom say, “No she left.” I asked, “Are you talking about me?” She refused to look at me, and repeated herself. “No, she isn’t here.” My daughter looked at me with that, “Who is she talking about,” look.

She said, “goodbye,” and as I saw her handing me the phone, I could see my sister was still on the line. “Kim?” “Yea, I thought you were there.” “Yes, I’m practically sitting right next to her.”

Now my sister was seeing that I’m not exaggerating her condition. I talked with her for quite a while and she could understand that this is a rapid progression.

I finally hung up and went to take my mom up to bed. As I was talking with her, I said something about Kim being my sister, and she said, “That’s not your sister! That’s my sister!” “No, mom. That’s your daughter.” I tried to remind her. Your sister’s are, Carol, Jean, Ann and Dorothy.”

She repeated herself, “Kim is my sister!” I tell her that she has her children and her sisters. Then she tells me that she never had children.She gets very sarcastic as she states, “You don’t know my family!” “Ok, well then will you let me call you mom?” I ask her.

“Where is your mom?” she asks me. “Well, my mom left when I was young, and she never came back,” I said. “Oh mom’s don’t do that!” She says. “Well, usually they don’t but, mine did. So may I call you mom?” I ask once again. “Sure,” she says.

Then I ask, “Can Kim call you mom” and as if I’ve crossed over the line, she says, “No!” She’s not my daughter! I just talk to her on the phone!” “Ok, how about Craig?” Again, a loud, “No!”

“Well,” I said, “I guess you are going to let me call you mom, because I’m living with you.” “Yes,” she says.

For this I’m grateful. She looks at me with eyes of sympathy. I said, “Thanks mom.” And give her a big hug goodnight.

I had joked with my brother just the other day. As a word of warning I wanted him to know what was happening before he received his birthday card. “Listen Craig. It’s taken me so long to send your card, that when mom picked it out, it said, ‘Son.’ But when I finally got her to sign it, she signed her name!” This time I told him, I get the prize for belated birthday wishes. I waited so long that you’re no longer a son. I guess I can save some money now on the non personalized versions of the cards, which I have in my drawer.

This disease is unpredictable and strange. I’m just glad she’s allowing me to stand in as a daughter, to help me through this time. So she can speak those words which hold so much more meaning now.”Just give it to the good Lord.Things will get better.”