Many of the posts I have read begin with some form of this statement: my mother was taken too soon. I believe every one of them. I know that I am one of the lucky ones; my mother is still here.
When Laura and I visited my parents about five years ago, mom had just had two of her coronary arteries re-opened using stents. The new flow of blood through her body reinvigorated her, and she felt more energized than she had in years. Neither of her own parents lasted very long. Her father died of heart failure at age 49, and her mother died of cancer shortly before her 51st birthday. During this particular visit mom told me, "I never expected to live to be 70 years old. Every day I have from here on out is a gift."
And what a gift it has been. Too many of my friends do not have the gift I have, two living parents at my ripe age of 55.
Her many gifts to us go WAY back, but let's just look at what she has done in retirement.
- I was able to pull out one of the many exhaustively researched books she made for us on our family history and look up the ages of my grandparents. These resources are so very rich to me, and will be a wonderful thing to hand to Jay.
- Our house is filled with beautiful quilts, all entirely of my mother's own, aged hands. Every one of them is a splash of love to me. When any of my four siblings posts a picture on Facebook that was taken in their home, I almost always see a "Gramma Gerri" quilt somewhere in the frame. She will warm us forever and a day.
- In addition to her prolific quilting for us, she made "lap quilts" which are about four feet by six feet, perfect for a couch or single bed. In one single year, mom made over fifty (yes, about one per week), and donated them to a shelter for women and children escaping domestic violence.
During the summer that Laura was pregnant with Jay, mom went into the hospital to have a hiatal hernia repaired. There were severe complications after her surgery, and another surgery soon followed to remove her gall bladder. I talked to my dad nearly every day for a while, and we helped each other through the ordeal. I passed along messages to the sibs, but mostly dad and I connected over our concerns for mom and also for him and his stress and health. We agreed that Jay's impending arrival went a long way to giving mom the energy to fight and stay with us.
Mom turned 77 in May, and seems to still be going strong. I still need her, and we still love knowing that we can call at any time to give important messages and updates. Not the least of those includes Jay getting the first words of the phone call:
"I WENT PEE-PEE IN THE POTTY!!!!!!!"
I know they were extra happy to get that phone call.
They won't be here forever. I know this. But, they HAVE been here long enough to get me started on this parenting journey. Any time I get with them will make me a better parent. When I lose them, no matter their age or mine, it will be too soon.