Today is a very emotional day for me. This is my fourth Mother’s Day since the evil bastard, lung cancer, steals the short, 70-year life from my mother. As the disease consumes my mother’s body, it rapes my heart. With each of her last breaths, I die a little inside. Three months after her diagnosis, her bowels separate from her body and a 20-something doctor declares, “There is nothing we can do. Your mom is dying.” Hating the emotionless declaration of the young doctor I struggle with my extreme heartbreak. My mind fights my heart and I become analytical.
“How can I support my family? What arrangements do I need to make to deal with my mother’s dead body? Who do I call to inform of my mother’s impending death?”
My daughter and I hold my mom’s hands as she struggles for her last breath. Her death is peaceful, sad, angry and discontenting. As my mom takes her last breath, my daughter and I look at each other, cry, then admire as her wrinkled skin tightens on her face. “Grandma would like to know that her skin is wrinkle-free,” my daughter offers as I unexpectedly laugh. “Yep!” I offer as I loosen my grip, take a step back and look in disbelief at the dead body, with a smooth face, of the woman that birthed me. Good night mom. I love you!
Buying cigarettes for mom at the Tuolumne local market I scold, “No; I’m not going to buy you cancer sticks. These are going to kill you.” As a 10-year-old child, I equate the carcinogens entering her body with her possible early demise. I love my mom and don’t want her to die before I get my drivers license. “You smell like cigarettes!” my mom scolds me. “Are you smoking?”
“No,” I declare loudly then yell, “I smell like you.” My mom, startled by my anger, begins to cry. Frustrated that mom challenges me to not be a smoker while dismissing my brother and sister, who are smoking as early adolescents, I wonder, why me? I carry this question of discovery through my entire life. Why me?
Why are my brother and sister held in privilege while I am disregarded as the dumb child, the compliant child, the unmotivated child? Why do my parents laugh at my siblings’ jokes while telling me to be quiet when I have something to offer? Why do my parents tell me that I sing like a turkey when my brother and sister sing with expression and love? How do I fit into this world?
In my 54 years on this Earth, I find my purpose. I struggle with confidence because I never find purpose as a child; but as an adult, I make my purpose. Today I am able to forgive, forget and celebrate the life of the mother who gives life to me.
Regardless of your relationship with the moms in your life, celebrate, embrace; don’t waste negative emotions or thoughts of past arguments, fights and struggles. Today, I remember most every argument I had with my mom and struggle to find our giggles, laughs and tender moments.
I challenge each of you to find time to make more smiles than frowns, to make more tears of joy than tears of anger and forgive and forget negative emotions that are not important. Forgive today. Tomorrow may be too late.
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Send comments or other suggestions to William Rutherford at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit pensiveparenting.com.