Tuesday, May 19, 2009

On my Mother's Heart....

I don't typically share details of my life that may invoke anxiety in my parents, particularly for Mom. But a couple of days ago, figuring that she needed a bit of distraction from thinking and worrying about my sister and her travels in far off Istanbul, I started in on my shoulder woes. I thought that maybe if she had a minor, local issue to consider, MM's trip to Turkey might slip out of the spotlight if even for a moment or two.

Dad's reaction to the shoulder business was thoughtful and concerned. "Won't this keep you from the Triathlon this year with a bad shoulder? You can't swim with a bad shoulder." Yes, indeed Dad. But, I can look ahead to next year. Dad was spot on.

Mom, who never really connected with my athletic adventures two years ago when I actually made it through the training and completed the Danskin Triathlon, figures events like these are pure work (and not work worth doing) much like camping or cleaning up messes. She's always wondered why someone would voluntarily subject themselves to things uncomfortable. I predicted Mom would be relieved that the shoulder would keep me from training in water and on roads riding a bike/running for the next few months. The shoulder problem, in her view, would be a good excuse to bag the whole thing. Her response though was out in left field but at least she was laughing and that made me laugh too.

"Well," she said, "you'll just have to move to Alaska!".

Huh? Come again? Alaska? I didn't really get that one but I've learned to go with the flow. We were on to other topics before too long and the shoulder and a move to Alaska were long forgotten.

Yesterday, however....as I was lamenting about my fast approaching appointment for the shoulder injection and describing to her (she's still my Mom) how nervy I was feeling about the needles and all, the haze lifted and she connected.

"Do you want me to go with you? I will, you know. I'll just go right down there and sit with you."

I was touched. No matter that she's almost 92, can't walk well and needs so much help to just make it through a regular day; she offered to hold my hand and comfort me on an anxiety provoking journey. I told her thanks, that I'd be "just fine" and indeed it was all that; just fine.

Her offer touched me deeply. The times are few and far between when she breaks free of the hazy interior world that holds her tightly, the place where the needs of another typically have no relevance, and where life is jumbled and confusing. The call of motherhood is stronger, enduring. When it comes to her 3 children she has always quoted her own Mother who used to say, "Doris, when they're young they're on your hands and when they're grown, they're on your heart." Clearly I was on my Mother's heart yesterday and for that I'm grateful. I still have the chance to be on her heart.


  1. Sigh. It is so nice to hear that you had a moment like this with your mom. It really breaks through the buildup of pain and stress and heartbreak and sorrow that you know is happening but also don't often realize how big it's gotten, because it's just done drip by drip, moment by moment. Then something like this happens, and it melts half that mound down...

  2. These are the moments that stay with us, that see us through the tough times. Not long ago I had a similar moment with my mom, and it meant everything to me. Your grandmother's saying puts into words what it means to be the mother of adult children. That's going in my gratitude journal of quotes.

  3. The call of motherhood is stronger - so true and beautifully articulated.

  4. I love this. I almost want to save that quote at the end - it is so beautiful.

    So glad you're writing again. I am reading down backwards, so I will probably learn more about what you're doing and what's up with the shoulder.

  5. What a beautiful, beautiful post. Sometimes she's 'there.'


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