My mom is 82 years old. Two years ago, she battled breast cancer and won. Now, we have a different battle. She has gotten progressively weaker making it difficult to get up out of a chair and walk with aid of a walker.
She remains independent in her own home but relies more and more on the help of others for meal preparation, personal cares, and day-to-day activities. It saddens me to see these gradual changes. My younger sister provides much of this assistance. When she planned her vacation, I offered to step in.
So, I’m spending my Valentine’s Day with my mom with my husband’s blessing. Today, Mom asked me what I wanted for Valentine’s Day. I told her being with her and spending this time was gift enough. I know it touched her heart. I’m very much like my mom in that I don’t like to show vulnerability. I keep many emotions private showing myself to only those people I trust.
If you have read my book, Exodus, you will recognize this character trait in my protagonist, Clare Thibodeaux. Just for clarification, I’m not Clare and she is not based on me. Aspects of her character tend to mimic some of my more flawed personality traits, but she is a work of fiction.
While I’m writing this blog, Mom is watching her favorite shows — “Judge” shows, talk shows where people throw chairs and pull hair, and reruns of comedies from the eighties. I have to admit to loving the Hallmark Channel’s movies. I’m a sappy romantic under a tough exterior.
I’m blessed to have the time to spend with my aging parent. So many children don’t have those opportunities because of work obligations, distance, and other constraints. I find myself becoming more introspective. I realize I will be the oldest member of the family of my youth. Will my great-nieces and nephews call me “the old one” as my sons had when meeting my grandmother? Will I be that wacky aunt who wrote suspense novels, studied Tae Kwon Do, was an Army officer and embraced aspects of the hippie culture of the 60’s and 70’s?
I would love nothing more than to be a real-life character in the stories of future generations, just as my father and mother are destined to be to the current young ones. My tough South Bronx gang member father with his Irish immigrant parents married a farm girl from the Midwest who played basketball and wanted to be an FBI agent at a time when not many women worked outside the home.
Looking at the white-haired woman sitting by the window in the sunlight, it’s hard to picture the young woman from the past. Spend a bit of time with her and her steely resolve and iron-will become recognizable if one takes the time to look.
I believe as William Shakespeare wrote so eloquently that life is a story and we are all characters with our parts to play. I am my mother’s audience during this week of “Spending Time”.
All the World’s A Stage(from As You Like It, spoken by Jaques)All the world’s a stage,And all the men and women merely players;They have their exits and their entrances;And one man in his time plays many parts,His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms;And then the whining school-boy, with his satchelAnd shining morning face, creeping like snailUnwillingly to school. And then the lover,Sighing like furnace, with a woeful balladMade to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,Seeking the bubble reputationEven in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,In fair round belly with good capon lin’d,With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,Full of wise saws and modern instances;And so he plays his part. The sixth age shiftsInto the lean and slipper’d pantaloon,With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;His youthful hose, well sav’d, a world too wideFor his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,Turning again toward childish treble, pipesAnd whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,That ends this strange eventful history,Is second childishness and mere oblivion;Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.