A Mother's Love

(Editor's Note: We welcome Diane, who cares for her mother, to our blogging team today. You can connect with Diane on her profile page: @dianehummer.)

life-335446_640It is rare in this life to meet any woman who has had not issues with their mother at some time in their lives. In my own journey those issues have been my greatest teachers. My generation of women are the generation that have literally embodied what I believe the suffragette movement only began. We pushed through the mass of brier that was the impediment to corporate success. Some of us juggled marriages and children while working through corporate political insanity. And yes, most of the women I have been privileged to know have been not only vigilant but religious about their effort to maintain their integrity, to communicate from a place of compassionate understanding while holding boundaries that up hold what the Great Mother of all creation wants for each of us, to know we are loved beyond measure.

I have been in the world for what seems an eternity navigating one challenge after the next. And now I am being asked, no not asked, but called to care for my earthly mother as she makes her way to the other side. As I look back on my life I have faced a million obstacles and overcome most. In all situations I felt called to serve the organizations for which I was  apart and also to leave when my time was up. So why is this calling to serve my mother to make the sacrifices I have made all my life outside my family so terribly difficult?

I am not alone. My family, as difficult as it has been, has stepped up! That was not an easy path but I am the oldest of four. They did not see what I saw--her aging, her heartbreak as a result of elder abuse by one of my siblings' children. The tragic impact of what she thought was love for a struggling grandchild turned into a horror show. I have been a witness to her slow and steady loss of short-term memory of her disinterest in life, in living. Not because she is unhappy but because she hurts and she is 83. A woman who has always had a lust for life, an actress, a published poet, a painter and a gifted vocalist. Not to mention a beautiful woman. She is not sick but simply unable to take care of herself in accustomed ways.

You would think that showering her would be hard. But there is something in those moments as I scrub her back and wash her hair with warm water that a tenderness of heart washes over me and I am filled with a love I have never had the chance to know in this life. I have never had children. It must be what it is like to bathe your newborn to feel a connection that is God given. Our roles are reversed.

Our early life together was filled with turmoil and difficulty. Our life now, well I am not sure what it is. But one thing for sure is that it is filled with love most days. My relationship with her over the years has caused me to go inside myself and learn to forgive, to learn things about myself I never thought possible. As her life energy fades, she once again shows up to help me navigate my own path. She above all others knows me. She above all others knows that my life or future life is writing. We were co-writing together until I fell apart at the end of the year. The anniversary of the loss of two people I held dear as well as a position overseas that was one of the most incredible opportunities of my life. I live in fear that I will not be able to care for her because the work I am doing now is so physically challenging. My ego crushed, my heart broken, my mother is the rock who is helping me recover myself. In a culture that has determined the best way to care for our elders is in assisted care and nursing homes, my family has always lived their elder years cared for by family and died at home. We have witnessed many passing this way. My prayer each day is that I be given the stamina to take care of her. The strength to know what to do each day to make her life comfortable.

For the last two months all I have done is cry. They say this is depression. I say it is life. That a good cry cleanses the soul. I did not want to leave the life I have always known to work a job that I go to only for income. And I guess if the truth is told, I have been angry because taking care of her has changed my life. My perception is that it has limited my life and my options. This is true but there is a reason. The reason is love.

So today I am surrendering to what I have always known, and giving into a path that is unknown and probably filled with wisdom beyond my comprehension. I do not move forward alone. I move forward with the love of the Mother.

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