My mother--after a contentious battle with cancer--is in the last days of her life. She is in the hospital; they are making her 'comfortable'. I can't be sure what 'comfort' there is...esp. when I realize that she is only 65. Such a relatively young age. Five years ago, my father succumbed to cancer;he was 62.
Every day the news is full of stories of children,teens,young people whose lives are all too brief and end too soon. In the context of that.... my father and mother at 62 and 65 have lived reasonably long lives. They have lived wonderful lives that were filled with family,friends,children,grandchildren and so many experiences that most people never have. They were, in their way, blessed......
I have had a lifelong tumultuous relationship with my mother. There were times when we felt like we were competing with each other; there were times when we were almost friends... Through it all, I have never lost sight of the fact that my mother was always a strong,independent and fiercely loving person... My father--who we lovingly called 'the bear' always pointed out that my mother was 'the she-bear': she would take on anyone and anything in her protection of family and home. And she often did.
I think, even as I know that I am a reflection of my father...I am more my mother's daughter than I wanted to admit when I was younger. We railed against each other; we fought for control, but we were both trying to be our own women. She had ideals for how and what her daughter should be and I had aspirations and dreams that fell somewhere outside of her ideals. We battled mercilessly. But we also found ways to love each other and forge a respect for each other.
We battled with each other throughout this illness. What I wanted and needed locked horns with what she wanted and needed. And again, somehow we managed to make moments of peace and joy within our family.
I had had little idea that my mother's health was deteriorating as rapidly as it had been. (That was one of our battles: her secret-keeping when it came to her health issues.) Easter Sunday I knew she hadn't been doing well. She came to my house and shared a wonderful family dinner with us. She ate little, but she talked and laughed and joked with my boys. The Saturday before Easter, she'd done the same with my sister's family. She obviously knew something.
By Tuesday night she was in the hospital.
Wednesday she told my sister and I that she realized she was a rich woman where it counted...she cited the loves of her life: my dad and her partner John; her daughters; her sons-in-law and her beautiful grandsons and all her friends.
And that was when it became absolutely clear to me that I am Carole's daughter too. I too believe that my family and my friends are my wealth and I am a rich woman for having them. AndI am richest of all for having had her for a mother.