Collateral Damage

I grew up with a storybook mother, not perfect, but close to it.

• Day long birthday celebrations started with mom delivering a breakfast muffin with a lit candle while singing happy birthday.
• Expressions of love including hugs and kisses were given in abundance.
• Sunday dinner was at the dining room table with china, crystal, linen tablecloth and napkins, and gentle etiquette lessons.
• Curiosity was encouraged and rewarded with both praise and tokens.
• When I was sick, she was the world’s most attentive nurse.

All my life, my friends expressed their desire to have her for a mother, a request she usually accommodated. She was my cheerleader, my confident, and my problem sounding board.

Now she is 94, residing in an assisted living facility, has Alzheimers, and I have cancer.

Visiting her means figuring out strategies to hide both my baldness and my diagnosis. Explaining what’s actually happening would require a complete explanation each visit – a task beyond my emotional strength. Answering her questions about my new affinity for wearing hats as a part of my wardrobe is taxing even my fiction spinning ability. Deflecting her attention on me runs counter to my lifetime basking in being the center of her attention. The entire family has, by necessity, become partners in this minor conspiracy of deception.

I just want my mommy!

3 thoughts on “Collateral Damage

  1. Wow! So true … in our ever-changing reality, and no matter our age or circumstances, we do still long for the comfort and acceptance we once enjoyed from mom.

  2. Oh Chris…how I understand your sentiment. I wish I lived closer to you. I could step in as a surrogate and give it my best try at the very least. Life does not always give us what we want or need. Mom always did. Love you so for being there for me when no one seemed to be there. In spirit, I am trying to do the same for you. You deserve that girlfriend. Sending hugs and love from CO!

  3. Chris, in hearing tales of your childhood, between your Aunt Vera (aka Auntie Mame) and your mom, I intuited that it was exceptional when you said your mom gave you a nail brush when you were a tween. For some reason, that genteel gesture blew me away.

    In reading your post I remembered how you and I conspired to get our WWII conservative-leaning moms together, first by email, then by person, not once, but twice. What scheming geniuses we were to pull that off!

    Having had the pleasure of knowing JunieB, I ache for you and how much you miss your mommy during this difficult period fraught with daily challenges. There are no magical words to ease the void, but it’s my hope that the love and support you’re receiving from family and friends is some small comfort.

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