Monday, June 27, 2011

Not just a wrinkled version of her former self

Each year there are 4 birthdays in our family as well as Father's Day in the course of 3 weeks, so our immediate family gathered together this past weekend to celebrate.  Both of our sons and daughters-in-law were here for the weekend and Julia's widowed dad and my widowed mother joined us for lunch on Saturday. Julia's dad turns 85 today, my mom turned 90 last week, Zack turns 31 next week and I forget how old I am now.  Forgetfulness is one of the things that comes with age and sometimes it comes in handy.

All-in-all, it was a nice visit but after the grandparents had been taken back to their homes, our younger son, Peter, made an interesting comment to me.  He said, "That's not the Mop that I remember."  (Mop is what my mother is called by her grandchildren.)  He was right.  The woman that came to lunch on Saturday is not just a wrinkled version her former self.  I'm glad Peter recognizes this and can can distinguish between the woman that my mother is today and the the woman that she was most of Peter's life.  In many ways, there are very different people.  Age has a way of changing people.  Sometimes it changes them for the better and other times, not.

My mom was also at my house with all of my siblings on her birthday last week and when she was getting up to leave, she looked around and asked, "Now who's house is this?  I need to say goodbye to them."  I'm the only one of her 4 kids that lives in the same town with her and have for the past 27 years.  She's been to my house literally hundreds of times but that night she didn't remember where she was.  This picture of her was taken 3 years ago at another gathering at our house and the ensuing years have not been kind to her.  Although she may not look much older now than then, her mind has continued to fade and her demeanor is not what it once was.  She tries to be cheerful and positive at times but much of the time she fails at that.  This weekend was one of those times.  Struggle as she did to be sociable, it just wasn't in her.

I'm glad that Peter can still remember the loving, caring grandmother of his youth.  I hope that both of my sons can convey that image to their wives who never knew her when she was the person that they remember rather than the person that she is now.  I have to confess that I think both of them are doing a better job of preserving her legacy than I am.  Because I get entangled in the day-to-day responsibilities of caring for her and have more direct contact with her than anyone else, I realize that I get tripped-up and see her as who she is and not who she was.  I, too, want to remember the better version of my mother and in doing so, fulfill the biblical mandate to "honor your mother and father."

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