Monday, August 16, 2010

A Leaf on the Family Tree

My mom stayed all night with me Saturday night. I was trying to remember the last time she spent the night at my house and finally decided it was when Jim was still at home but needed supervision at all times. I could not get professional help for more than about six hours a day, three days a week. That left a lot of gaps during my forty-hour workweek. My mom would pack a bag and drive for an hour to fill out the weekly schedule. She would arrive before the day help had left and stayed with us a couple nights each week.

I know my brothers and sisters agree with me that we are fortunate to have a mother who is in such good health although she is in her eighties. Mom is fun-loving and still likes to play her guitar and pal around with her sister-in-law, Lebetta.

When my mom came up Saturday to spend the night, we didn’t have anything we had to do, so we visited and spent some quality time together. It wasn’t until after we spent the afternoon and evening together that I realized how much I missed having that much time with her. It’s a sad commentary on how hectic I’ve let life become that I have so little time to visit with my own mother.

My mom and I have a lot to talk and laugh about. Sometimes the conversation turned serious as we talked about dreams we have about loved ones who were once a major part of our lives. Mom talked about her dreams of dad. “He is usually about thirty-five in my dreams,” she said. “He’s always young and healthy.”

“Jim never has dementia in my dreams,” I said.

“I dream about Mommy and Poppy,” she said, meaning her parents. “You know, Lebetta and I were talking the other night about how we know more people that have died than are alive.”

I can’t imagine the hole left in a person’s life when they have outlived all their siblings. My mom came from a big family and she is the only one living. Her parents, sister, and brothers are all gone.

I think about my cousins on Mom’s side of the family. How they’ve each lost at least one parent, and many of them have lost both. My dad died in 1990 at 67 years old. That is not much older than I am now. My mom has soldiered on through two serious relationships that have both ended. It is a good thing that she is a strong woman. She checks on my brother Donnie almost every day. She’s moved to town to be near the long-term care facility where he lives. My brothers and sisters who live nearby, provide the kind of relief for Mom that she did for me when Jim was the one that needed looking after.

In many families, relatives feud with each other and every family gathering is tension filled, because no one can keep track of which family members are not speaking to each other or whose feelings are hurt. Our family has always been blessed with a healthy dose of minding your own business. We are supportive of each other, but none of us try to tell a brother or sister how to live his or her life. Nope, we just live and let live. It may not work for every family, but it certainly works for ours.

Each of us is a leaf on our family tree and, like a leaf, we can’t just hop from our tree to another because we don’t like the limb God attached us to. It is always much better to get along with the other leaves on the same branch.

While I was gone this evening, Mom called and left a message on my answering machine. She just wanted me to know that she really enjoyed our visit. It was too late by the time I got home to call her back, but I have to say a resounding, “Me too!”

I’m thinking that having my mom stay the night is something I need to do more often. Maybe next time she can bring her guitar. Jim would be pleased if guitar music once again drifted through the rooms of the house he built.

Copyright © August 2010, L.S. Fisher


Cindy said...

I should have read this yesterday. Not good to start Monday off crying.. My family trees have been chopped down many times in my 48 year life. Right now I love my little sappling I am nurturing now. I have learned to think of my immediate family as the only family tree worth watering. It's too hard to deal with all the other trees in my forest..Have a good week...

NewKidontheBlogg said...

Sorry to hear that, Cindy. Hope you can offer the olive branch to relatives.

I sure miss my mother, Linda, and I wonder if my husband's family will be missing him as his dementia progresses. I get a little hurt that they don't pay more attention to him, but you know I heard that in families some talk, some do and some neither talk nor do--the way it is often.

L.S.Fisher said...

Yes, every story is a little different. We all have our other family--husband, in-laws, children, grandchildren. Like you, Cindy, I've been fortunate there too.

L.S.Fisher said...

Carol, I feel so lucky to have my mom with me. And I understand what you mean about family missing someone with dementia. It's hard to understand how some people distance themselves at the time they are needed most. Others will be worth their weight in gold.

Kathy said...

Linda, I always read your blogs but don't post comments. Today, I just cannot resist, because you brought up so many wonderful memories of one of my "other" families. I, too, am so glad that your mom is doing so well and always enjoyed bumping into her in Versailles when our visits to Good Shepherd coincided. Since Ben's dad is gone now, I suspect I may never see Lula again, and that is a sad thought for me. Give her a hug from me the next time you're together.

L.S.Fisher said...

Kathy, So sorry about your father-in-law. They do become your other family for sure. I will see Mom again Friday when we go over for Tommy's retirement party. I'll be sure to give her a hug for you.