It’s the little things in life that seem to matter the most when the chips are down. These little things are the things I miss most about my Mom.
I miss her smile, her laugh. I remember Mom always being happy. I know she wasn’t – but I remember her happy. She was happiest when she was with her grandchildren.
Kevin and I moved closer to our parents when we saw they needed our help as they grew older. Consequently, our children grew up with their grand-parents. My Mom, often unbeknownst to my Dad, would spoil our kids with books, clothes, and toys. Anytime they would visit, there was always a new gift waiting for them. It was small, often something to colour with, but it was shiny and new. “Mom, you really don’t have to do this!” I would exclaim to her.
“It makes me happy. And I enjoy it, Stacey.” she would responded rather fervently to me. “Let me spoil them.” Then she would add, “But don’t tell your father!”
What my children remember most about “Nanna” was the time they spent with her reading, swimming, and cooking. She used to take our oldest boy, Ben, when he was a little one, to the beach and make sand-castles with him. She used to make wareneki with our daughter, Katya, and colour with her in the den. She used to play restaurant with youngest boy, David, and delight in his ability to touch the bottom of the shallow end of the the pool with his toes. Some of my favorite times with our children is when they gather on my bed at night and reminisce about these occasions with Nanna.
When I remember most about my Mom was talking her about life. She was my biggest cheer-leader – no matter what I did was right or wrong. “It will be okay, Stacey. It will out work out in the wash.” she would say to me. “When one door closes, another one opens.” These conversations would sometimes happen very late at night – she enjoyed having me over for sleep-overs so much that it was often difficult to let her let me go to bed!
I remember coming home from school and the smell of her cooking would tantalize my taste-buds. “What’s for dinner, Mom?” I remember were always the first words I uttered after walking in the door. It was always, always, always, a delicious sit-down family meal. It was at the dinner table where events of the day were recounted and processed. It was here where problems were solved and plans were made.
Even in their old age, the family dinner table was a ritual. I was so very blessed to have been able to share meals with them right until the very end of their lives. I miss these meals and I miss Mom’s cooking. How happy I am that we were able to spend this time together.
If Mom were here today, I would still talk to her everyday – about nothing.
If she were here today, I would cry on her shoulder about how difficult it was on the children when we weren’t sure I would live through this winter. But I would have to be careful to not crush her as her bones became so fragile in the end. I would learn the value of tears and how it was okay to cry because crying is not a sign of weakness.
If she were her today, I would expect her to be shocked at the news that I had over 50 cancerous nodules removed from my abdomen during my surgery last February. She would respond dramatically and then reassure me that the doctors got it all – maybe she’d talk about the miracles of modern medicine. She would hug me and tell me how lucky I was. I would learn to count my blessings and remember the good things.
If she were here today, she would want to talk about the new curtains that she saw that would work so well in our bathroom, how she just picked up a new pair of snow-pants for David and she would hope that they would be big enough for him for next year. I would learn that family comes first and all the other issues can wait. It is family that matters the most.
If she were here today, she would be in so much pain from her arthritis – but never let me know about her pain. I would learn how strong she was and how she never wanted to worry me. She taught me that it is not good to complain all the time because it makes people feel bad. She wanted to age with grace and dignity. She wanted to remain positive. She never wanted “me” to be her mother – that would always be her job.
“Grow old with me, the best is yet to be”, reads the sign above our hallway entrance. It has never held more meaning to me than it does now. It is a message that is full of hope – when hope seems distant. It is a message of faith – when faith seems weak. It is a message of unity – when I am lonely.
“Don’t grow old, Stacey” Mom used to say to me. I used to respond, “Mom, there is only one other alternative – and I don’t want that. ” She would laugh and agree. And that was that – there were no more complaints, there was no more talk about aches and pains.
I ‘m not sure she would say that to me, today. She would rejoice in my new life – our new lives. She would be so careful for me to watch for any signs of new cancer. She would remind me of forth-coming doctors appointments, or that I was doing too much and I need to take it easy. She would offer to cook, to clean, or to hire someone to do that for me if I wanted as she was not able to do it herself in her later years. She would remind me to slow down and to enjoy my family. She would drive me crazy trying to be my personal nurse. But – it is this care that I miss the most. I learned that no matter how much my children may protest my nagging about their own health – they will miss it when it is gone.
It’s the little things in life that matter the most and it is these things that define us as individuals. What will my own children remember of me? Will they live close by as Kevin and I age – so that we may spend time with their children? Will I be able to spoil my grand-children the way my Mom spoiled mine? Will my children make time for me – to talk about curtain rods and snow pants? Will they remember the time we spent together reading books, cooking, and talking about life? Will they be patient with me as I age – and spend time with me to do the little things? I guess only time will tell. Meanwhile, I want to grow old with appreciation for aging. I want to never forget – it’s the little things in life that matter the most and to be grateful for them!