“All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.” ― Abraham Lincoln
Life as I know it, is about to change.
As I write this, my 79-year-old mother is on a flight to Phoenix to come live with me. She’s worked tirelessly these past few months to get ready. The move involved not only culling and letting go of most of her belongings, but also euthanizing her 22-year-old cat, Zap. (Zap was failing in her final days, but I know my mom would have preferred that she decide when to exit.) The preparation has been brutal and illuminating. I learned a lot about my mother through this process: about her resolve, her strength, her grit. I learned how boundlessly brave she is.
I also learned a lot about myself.
I made a space for her, cleaned out and moved my office, cleaned out the extra bathroom and rearranged the house to (with luck) accommodate the few pieces of furniture she’s bringing with her. I did this without a moment’s hesitation, saying ‘yes’ when she called and said her current situation had become untenable and she needed to move. (I’ve been offering this option for quite some time now — but my mother wanted to stay put for the grand kids.)
I think she realized that where she was living was toxic, and if she didn’t leave there, she would not live much longer.
It’s now or never.
So, even though the responsibility this entails is humbling (and pretty scary), we are moving forward. It’s moving day. She’s on her way.
I wonder if I have everything ready, even though I know I do.
I wonder if I could have done more for her, even though I did everything I could.
The child in me bristles in fear at the thought of taking this on, but the adult is ready, willing, able.
I’ve long wanted my mom to come down and live with me, if for no other reason than to offer her the chance to live someplace peaceful, where she is welcome and wanted.
She’s spent the past eight years living in a house where she was treated like a squatter — even though she’d paid a substantial sum to live there, ostensibly for the remainder of her life.
While there, she nearly died three times, due to neglect.
“As mothers and daughters, we are connected with one another. My mother is the bones of my spine, keeping me straight and true. She is my blood, making sure it runs rich and strong. She is the beating of my heart. I cannot now imagine a life without her.” ― Kristin Hannah, Summer Island
So, it’s time do something else.
For all of my life, I’ve been the type of person who embarked on adventures impulsively. I flew to London because I wanted to meet Elton John (and I did). I moved to NYC to chase my singing and songwriting dreams. I moved to Los Angeles to learn to write. When opportunities arose, I grabbed them, whether doing so made sense or not.
At times, I’ve lamented my mis-adventurous nature. But generally that happened only after I’d already left the safety of solid ground.
“Shiiiiitttt,” I’d scream, as the air rushed past me, and I fell headlong into this or that set of muddy brambles at the side of the road.
Bruised and bloodied, I would brush myself off and occasionally wonder if such madcap activities were a good idea.
Oops, I did it again…
Because I leap first and look later, maybe I should have paused when making this choice.
However, I had no doubts about doing this.
This is the right thing to do. This is the only choice.
“A good mother is irreplaceable.” ― Adriana Trigiani
My mother. My heart.
So, my mom will stay with me for the rest of her life. She will have a home surrounded by the desert where she was born. She will have a circle of animal people to keep her company while I work.
My mother’s still in relatively good health and is quite spry for someone nearing 80. It’s time for her to have adventures.
I look forward to seeing what sort of creative ideas bloom for her, as she sits in the quiet of this house, watching grackles and song sparrows and desert wrens drink and bathe in the back yard.
I look forward to collaborating with her on some of those creative projects.
What I know for sure…
This is a healing house. This is a house of solace, of sanctuary, of retreat.
Now, we will share this space: As friends. As confidants. As artists. As collaborators.
We will navigate the coming years as mother and daughter, even if our roles eventually reverse.
Perhaps I will learn some of her secrets and she will learn some of mine.
This is a big day.
Today, a new life begins.
© 2014 Shavawn M. Berry All rights reserved
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