I believe the mother/daughter bond is the most powerful of all and can set the stage for how a woman’s life unfolds.
As my first Mother’s Day without my beloved matriarch, Rose Beebe, approached, I ached for her humor, soft touch and unconditional love.
Until her passing from Alzheimer’s last September, she continually showered me with her wisdom and affection.
In the days leading up to Mother’s Day, I could feel intense sadness creeping in. When I awoke May 12 I didn’t want to open my eyes and face the day. I laid there recollecting on all Mom had done for me.
When I finally parted my eyes, the first thing I saw was a reflection from the sun on my bedroom door in the shape of heart. I took a deep breath and cried, knowing Mom actually was with me on this important day.
Then I recalled that I had received the best Mother’s Day gift I had ever gotten. My daughter, Jazlyn, 19, had just come home the day before from her first year of college. I was thrilled to have her back and was anxious to spend the quality time with her that I hadn’t truly been able to while she was in high school
Jazlyn was at my side for four endearing years of intense caregiving for Mom.
Together we made trips to the emergency room, played bingo with Mom and her friends, and fed and bathed her.
And together we witnessed Mom slowly deteriorate from the ravages of dementia. These are things a teenager shouldn’t have to witness, but Jazlyn bravely insistent on being a part of this end-of-life process.
I believe she assisted with her grandmother’s care because the two had such a strong bond. Mom had a big role in Jazlyn’s upbringing and was present for every milestone in her life.
Although Mom forgot most people from her past, she never forgot Jazlyn and called out for her every day with care and concern.
The fact that Mom passed away two weeks after Jazlyn went to school was no random occurrence. She had suffered from pain and discontentment for months and had said she was ready to die.
I think she waited until she knew Jazlyn was settled into her new collegiate life and was then able to let go knowing Jazlyn would have something else to fulfill her.
Now, Jazlyn had returned home for the summer with the realization that her grandmother was not present, something she never fully digested because she’d been away and engaged in academics, making new friends, going to parties, and rehearsals and performances as a dance major.
There was no time to fully embrace her loss.
So we sat at the kitchen table eating breakfast, looking at photos and talking about how much we missed and adored “Granny,” as we both called her. We wore our identical pendants that held her ashes. To honor her on our first Mother’s Day without her, we decided to go visit her memory care facility where both wonderful and difficult times were had. The visit evoked many fond memories.
When we pulled up we could envision her sitting on the front stoop in her rocking chair enjoying the sunshine and birds chirping. As we entered the main gathering room, the residents were sitting in a circle taking part in music therapy. This was Mom’s favorite activity and we laughed as we remembered her getting out of her seat to go dance and sing by the pianist as he hammered out tunes like “California We Come” and “You Are My Sunshine.” We clapped and sang with the residents who lit up with our attention, and we recalled the hours we spent trying to evoke smiles and laughter from them.
We could sense Mom tottering down the long hall, with her clothes on inside out, wearing an array of mismatched jewelry, carrying her baby doll and forever looking for her purse and keys.
We peeked into Mom’s old room, remembering how we surprised her with ice cream, snuggled in bed with her, and enjoyed discussions on everything from the hardships of the Great Depression to how she met my father. She’d look us in the eye and tell us how much she loved us and just how special we were. It was moments like this that kept Jazlyn and me going with devotion.
Our experience there that day was emotional and cathartic. It underscored how much Mom is missed, and also that life has a cycle and ours has greatly advanced this past year.
We’ve moved out of the “Sandwich Generation,” in which I was taking care of an aging parent and a child, to another layer of existence – Mom has completed her seasons of life, I am moving into middle age and Jazlyn is an independent, young woman.
Jazlyn and I laugh that someday she will take care of me and we joke about what that will be like. She predicts that I will be tottering around with my yoga pants on backwards as I look for my iPhone and croon tunes like “Super Freak” and “You Shook Me All Night Long.”
I don’t know what will happen in our future, but our past has proved that one thing is certain – the mother/daughter bond can never be broken, on heaven or Earth.
Editor’s note: Lisa Moore’s first column, “Generations,” dealt with her life as a caregiver for her mother with Alzheimer’s and raising her teenage daughter. Lisa recently lost her mother, Rose, to the disease and her daughter left for college. Here’s what happens next.
Lisa Moore is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Lisa? Email her at LisaMooreNC@gmail.com.
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