Where Have You Been?

Jo

Where Have You Been?

Jo
"There he is!"

That's how Mom greeted me the other day. I was relieved. Although it had only been a few days since I had last been there. Still I half expected her to shout out, "Where have you been?"

Since I haven't blogged here since early July you would be excused if you said the same thing. In my defense it has been a busy summer: music camp which involved driving 1,300 miles twice in four days, soccer camp, soccer try-outs, out-of-state work trips, across state work trips, sprinkled in with working full-time, an unscheduled doctor's visit for both parents, a quick trip to the high school for a last minute schedule adjustment which ended up in a minor fender bender and just not letting more than two days go by without visiting Mom and Dad. Add to that mix a critically ill sibling who on top of cancer had heart surgery. But there are a few recent events which stand out in my mind above even those and remind me of my oft competing roles of single parent, caregiver, worker and comforter to two kids who still miss their mother.

I no longer make a big deal of my deceased wife's birthday and my kids have not brought it up in recent years. This year her birthday came while I was out of state. This year my kids remembered it. They told me afterward that when they realized what day it was they paused and wished her happy birthday. I wish I had been there.

During the same trip my sister called and informed me that my aunt had died. My aunt, who was my mother's sister, had suffered dementia, too, (it runs through my family) and had been a nursing home resident under the care of other family members. I wrestled with how to tell Mom that another sister had died (second one this year). Mom won't remember before the sentence is even concluded but I wanted to say something.

When I got home (in fact I went straight to the nursing home after my plane landed), I asked Mom did she remember her sister. Mom said yes, she was her only sister. I corrected her because she had ten brothers and sisters. So Mom then corrected me and said my aunt was her favorite sister. I playfully accused Mom of trying to stir up trouble. I paused and told Mom her sister was now "home." My Mom's face lit up, she gave me this huge smile and replied, "aww, that's nice, she's home."

I couldn't have said it better.

Last Sunday, I drove five hours to attend the funeral service and immediately drove five hours back because I had urgent meetings the next morning. It was worth it to share that conversation of my Mom's with my extended family.

Sorry I've been gone, it has been quite a summer.