I have always heard it said that at some point, the parent becomes the child and the child takes on the parental role. It has been difficult for me to think of Mom as “older” because she has always seemed so “young”!
Until Mom lost her sight five years ago, she tried to make every holiday special. (How many mothers give their grown children Easter baskets? Mom did and we truly appreciated it.)
She delighted in decorating for Christmas. She could barely resist pulling out the Christmas decorations after Thanksgiving dinner. She even drove from Roanoke to Lynchburg to make sure I had the “correct” bows on the garland over the door frames. She learned to make the “round, fluffy bows” when she worked for a florist and was convinced my simple, old fashioned bows looked silly. And so she would bring ribbon, chenille wire and replaced my sweet bows with Mom approved ones.
About five years ago, we had Thanksgiving at our home and she wasn’t quite herself. She had had a headache for several days. Three days later, she was blind. Doctors gave her hope that her sight may return but it hasn’t. She was determined to keep going. She even attended her pre-teen granddaughter’s performance as Claire in the Nutcracker at Virginia Tech. (The performance was wonderful but Mom couldn’t see “our girl” on stage. She wanted E to know that she was there for her.
We waited until the crowd had thinned before walking her out of the building. As we stepped out into the sunlight, for the first time, I saw fear in Mom’s eyes. She continues to hold tightly onto Dad; not allowing anyone but him to do anything for her. She has days when she can see light and possibly a shadow but the “dark days” are difficult for her. Around this time of year, she has many dark days.
Through the years, she made Christmas extra special – especially with the gifts with her special gift toppings. Although she would place flannelgraph of the Nativity on her refrigerator and Dad read from Luke 2 before dinner Christmas day, the emphasis was on “things.” As soon as we walked into the door on Christmas, she herded us into the living room to open gifts because she “couldn’t wait!”
Buying for Mom was easy as long as I could buy pretty dishes or tea collections. The one thing we shared. Clothing was another matter. I just didn’t know what she liked. It had always been this way between us. That’s why I was delighted when she called me Friday.
“Kathy, will you look up JC Penneys on the internet and see if they have any white pullover sweaters?” Oh boy, would I! Now that’s something I could do!
They had exactly what she wanted. There were two colors in her size. White and Exotic blue.
“Blue? I don’t like blue,” she said.
“Do you remember the year we went to the Mill Mountain Zoo on M’s (my sister) birthday and we saw beautiful peacocks?” I asked.
“Oh, they were beautiful! Are they the same color as the Peacocks?”
Yes! This year we will be able to give Mom the gift she wants. So I ordered both sweaters for her and had them shipped to her home – on my card. She didn’t want me to pay for it. (No one could have stopped me!)
“But I can’t buy for anyone this year,” she said with a trembling voice. “I don’t want you to give me anything.”
“Mom, for over fifty years, you have made Christmas extra special for us. Every year, your tree was piled high with gifts. Now it’s our turn to make Christmas for you. It’s your turn to receive. We get to make Christmas for you and Dad! And this year, I hope we can all sing Christmas carols and focus on the true meaning of Christmas – God’s gift to the world – Jesus! “I would like that,” she said.
I still can’t relieve the burden from Dad’s shoulder but for once, we get to make things special for them. It’s not much but it’s a start.
So I am writing this to say, Thank you Mom for all you have done for us!
Cherish your time together. May we all pray for wisdom and grace in helping our ailing parents make good decisions. That the Lord will open the doors and give peace.
Merry Christmas to mothers young and older. You are special. You are loved.
I love you, Mom!