"Yes, I certainly do. It was awful for you."
"Well, we're doing just fine right now, and we have for years. But there were a couple of things that happened back then that I just don't understand. I was thinking about asking him about it."
My mother and I sat in silence for a moment. I was trying to work up the courage to say the next thing. It took a LOT of courage! I was afraid of what I was going to say. I was afraid of what her answer might be. I was about to cross a line, and there was no reverse.
"Well, anyway, when I was thinking about that, it made me wonder. Are there things that you want to ask me about? Is there anything that's bothering you?"
She was struggling to answer. Until she spoke, I didn't even know if she understood what I was talking about. This woman, this incredible intellect, had ALWAYS had a book in her hand, had ALWAYS know the answers to my homework; she had gone back to college and earned her degree when her own children were of college age; but now, she couldn't remember how long it had been since her own parents had died.
She looked away for a moment. But when she began to speak, it wasn't with the voice of a helpless old lady in a care facility.
She spoke as much power, and confidence, and complete assurance as she had ever had. She spoke with the certainty of a wise mother, who KNEW what she was talking about
"The one good thing about this is that I don't remember any of the bad things. All I remember is the love. I remember the love I have for you, and for your sisters, and I remember the love my parents had for me. I don't remember anything bad at all. But the love is right here with me, all the time, every day.
So, you don't need to explain anything to me. There's nothing to explain. I know you love me, and I know I love you, and that's all there is."
I leaned forward and kissed her cheek, and she put up her frail hand and stroked my face. We smiled at each other.
The love was there. The love was always there, and it would be always there.
I've thought about that a lot over the past week or so. And I have come to accept that this is the next to last gift my mother will receive from God, the forgetting of turmoil.
When she thinks of her children, her husband, her parents, her friends, she knows nothing about tension and struggles.
She sees the pictures of her grandchildren and great grandchildren on the walls and tables in her room, and even when she can't remember their names, she remembers the love.
She knows the thing that matters; these are the people she loves.
These are the people who love her.
I MUST find a way to visit my mother more often. My sisters, especially our baby sister, do a wonderful job of visiting her. I need to do more of that. It will be good for her.
But it will also be good for me.
It's always good to spend time in the company of someone who knows only love.
Happy Mother's Day, Mama!