Last weekend I spent three days with my family down in Florida and it was by far one of the best visits I have had in years. I spent a lot of time outdoors kayaking and boating with my sister and her boyfriend but also had some quality time with my mother. With the recent passing of my step father and the past several years of his failing health, the last being the absolute worst, it was the first time I have been home and seen my mother calm and relaxed. She had no plans, no where to be, nothing to do and wanted to spend time with me although if any wave of sadness came over her she was done visiting and headed home. I have missed my mother dearly over the years, her deep love and devotion to my step father was her somewhat codependent focus in life and was what she lived for. Living two states away and only getting home a few times a year limits the time I have to spend with family (I was the only one who moved from the nest) and talking on the phone is the best way we have to stay in touch. These day’s mom appears a bit lost and at times she is filled with sadness, emptiness and loneliness. I have often wondered what is worse, loving someone for 20+ years, losing them and dealing with the looniness that comes with living as two and suddenly becoming one, or growing old alone as an individual and feeling a sense of loneliness from time to time. Not to beat a dead horse here, I do realize I just did a recent post on loneliness. That is not what this post is about!
The past few times I have been home I have seen a big change in both of my parents and I guess I am seeing it in me as much as I don’t want to admit it. Age is creeping in and is becoming more apparent than ever. It’s weird how it is continuously happening but one day you somehow see it in a different light and it floors you. You notice the wrinkles on your parents face and see the changes in their bodies. You realize they are not as invincible as they once were and see there ability is not as strong as you remembered. You see they are weaker than before and you begin to want to protect and take care of them. You realize that someday you will be in that place and face the reality that we do not have forever and that each day is one day less that you have to do, to be and to make a difference. Within myself I have been aware of the aging process a lot the past two years and am trying to make the most of my time left. I am unsure of what men feel but as a woman it is difficult to see the body change and to see the wrinkles appear. You start to realize men no longer look your way because there is always a younger more beautiful face in the room, you miss the attention…perhaps that is my own insecurity for a later post and I should move on here.
Lately the strangest thing I have noticed is that each time I see my mother I see more and more of my grannie within her Her features, the way her lips move when she talks, her stance. Her mannerisms, her determination, her stubbornness and how when she wants to do something she wants to do it and if she wants to do it her way she will not allow anyone to tell her what to do. But most of all her unlimited ability to love, to accept and to give to others just as grannie did. She is a strong woman with deep convictions for what she wants yet a frail person filled with tenderness. At times she closes herself off and just wants to be alone.
With this visit I could see that she is still not ready to talk about my step dad and is careful in conversation to not bring up his name, when she does she tears up. I felt a sense of her needing to get out of the house to get away from the constant reminder he is gone. She did not really care to have me over, we met out at my sisters and other places. I can see she is still not at the point of wanting to go through his personal things. I get the sense she has closed off some rooms in the house, has tucked some things away so not to see them every day and she just is not ready to deal with the realization of his death. That is just the way mom is, as far as I know she still has not visited my grannies grave site and that has been two years, she says it is just too hard, says grannie knows she loves her and she misses her. We all grieve in our own way and can not judge other’s with how they may deal with death.
I know my mother as I am sure she knew hers and as she slowly begins to look like granny I wonder if I am slowly starting to look like mom. I assume she deals with things much like I do as we are from the same core. If so I think she is going to need time to find herself before she can face the actual act of letting my step dad go. If so she will close off that part of her for a while because it is too painful, not wanting to see his things or be reminded in any other way that he is gone because just the emptiness of her bed and the loss of his presence is almost too much right now. I don’t bring him up unless she does, I don’t ask questions or say anything that may remind her because I can’t stand to see tears in my mother’s eyes. It seems so strange that through our parents, (if we are lucky enough to have a good relationship with them and if they are still around), we start to see so much of them in ourselves the older we get. My grannie was one of the most beautiful people I have ever met. She was full of life, strong willed, loving, giving and although she was this tiny frail little woman her spirit was as big as they come. My mother is no different and I am so glad I have been blessed with the same genes.
At times it saddens me that I never had children and that the power of seeing all these beautiful changes in life will end with me, my hope is maybe someone out there will see within me the beauty of life that both my grannie and mother gave to me. I guess in a way that is why I write and why I share with strangers hoping that someone out there will feel something in a world of numbness….life is about feeling, loving and giving something back, not the material things that you have.
I do hope someone reads these post and gets something out of them.