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Mother’s Day: Roses and Thorns

Mother’s Day is bittersweet for me…

The beauty of a rose, with some memories like thorns…

I love hearing from my girls and the treats that Tim and Gabi picked up yesterday: Chocolate Moose Cake, dinner from the Grand Ely Lodge, and this morning, pastries from the Chocolate Moose for breakfast.

I love being woken up by Gabi with a bright and cheery “Happy Mother’s Day”!

I love the sweet card in the mail from Alex, with the promise of my new afghan that she’s been making for me, on the way.

I love the posts that Sam put on Facebook for me yesterday:  Kid President: Mother’s Day, and Despicable Me: 2 Mother’s Day message.

And, I love the beautiful card the love of my life, Timothy, bought for me…and the bag of M&M’s, the Ely Flower & Seed gift certificate, and the cash for TJ Maxx didn’t hurt either.

So where, you wonder, does the bittersweet part come in?

I miss my Mom.

She passed away 8 years ago now and I struggle every Mother’s Day with feelings of inadequacy and sadness.

So many questions of “Why didn’t I?”

So many “I’m sorry Mom” thoughts.

You see, my Mom and I were great friends for so many years…but then I got divorced.  It was a tumultuous time where they sided with my ex.  (Fantastic manipulator, that man.)  I was asked how I could be so God damned selfish.  I’d never felt so betrayed.

I moved an hour away from their house, which meant they could no longer watch my girls, which provided even more fuel to their fire.

Dad apologized for everything about a year later…Mom never did.

I had to back away.

I kept them at arm’s length.

Never trusting my Mom again.

Yet I came when Dad called to say Mom had breast cancer.

I came when Mom was in rehab for her drinking.

And when my brother called to ask if I’d go and check on them because Mom was in the hospital with a broken ankle.

And when Mom explained that Dad might need help while she was in the hospital…that he was forgetting things and might need help with paying bills, I was happy to help.

We doctored with Dad and discovered he had Alzheimer’s.

And when the doctor’s finally said Mom could go home, I rushed to get her there.

Now as I look back, I realize she didn’t want to go home…in my desperation to return my own life to a sense of normalcy (with my husband and girls, and driving to check on Dad 4 or 5 times a week, I was feeling worn out).

Here comes the first “I’m sorry Mom” moment.

Why didn’t I take a step back to see what she had been going through?  Being home with Dad had to be really tough – it seems Alzheimer’s patients get more contentious with their spouses.

As I filled her pill container upon getting her home, she kept saying she was going back to taking her pills the way her old doctor said.  I argued she’d have to go and see him first and that she should continue on her meds as the doctors’ in the hospital had administered them.

I knew it was futile.

I left and threw my hands in the air.  I saw her alcoholic behavior all over again and couldn’t deal with it.

I knew something bad was going to happen.  Call it a premonition, call it women’s intuition, I just knew.

I called her and asked if she’d set up a doctors appt.  I called the clinic to ask the doctor to call her (which he wouldn’t – it was “against their policy”).  I had his nurse call her.  I offered to drive down and bring her to her doctor…she wouldn’t budge.

The following Sunday (about a week+ later), Tim and I had plans to have Valentine’s Day dinner with my sister and her beau who lived about 10 miles from my parents.

I hesitantly told Tim we should stop over to see how my parents were doing before we went for dinner.  But I told him I didn’t want to go too early…I didn’t want to have to spend too much time there.

I’m sorry Mom.

We were greeted at the door by my Dad upon our arrival.  He said “Mom’s really sick, I don’t think you should come in.”

I knew.

I told him I’d just give her a kiss on the forehead and then we’d go and I moved past him.

That’s when I found her.

She’d fallen sometime during the night and was laying on their bedroom floor, having broken her other ankle.

I’m so sorry Mom.

When I asked Dad how long she’d been there he said “about 15 minutes”, when I told him she said she’d been there since the middle of the night, he yelled “She’s lying!”

When I told him to call 911, he complied immediately.

This can be the horrors of Alzheimer’s.  Time means nothing.

I went back to Mom to clean her up before the ambulance arrived and she told me to go and find the rubber gloves and where they were in the closet.

That may seem inconsequential to you.  But it’s heartbreaking to me.

Here this woman lay (we later find out) with not only a broken ankle, but with sepsis, along with other internal problems…and she’s worried about me using rubber gloves.

I’m so very sorry Mom.

If only I’d gotten there sooner.  I could have saved you.

If only I could have been stronger…our lives could have been different and you’d still be here.

Mom died about a week and a half later.

Some people tell you to just remember the good…but some days the ghosts of mistakes past are just too strong.

Mother’s Day is just one of those days for me.

She was my best friend for years.

And I still miss her.

I loved you Mom, I still do.

And I know I’ll see you again someday, in Heaven.

Where I’ll probably cry and you’ll comfort me.

Like you almost always did.


For those of you that still have your Mom’s with you…

Hug them.

Love them.

Even if you don’t have the best relationship with them, try.

And try again.

Because sooner rather than later, you won’t have that chance.

And she’ll be gone.

Patty O

6 Comments Post a comment
  1. Jan #

    Happy Mother’s Day! Thanks for sharing your very moving story.


    May 12, 2013
    • Happy Mother’s Day to you too Jan! And thank you…


      May 12, 2013
  2. Lorie #

    Very touching story which I can relate to on so many levels…thanks for sharing..


    May 14, 2013
  3. Mary Schauer #

    Oh Patty……I knew some of this, but not all of it. I’m so sorry you have those “I’m sorry Mom” moments. I know you miss her dearly. Love you bunches! xoxo


    May 15, 2013

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