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DonnaJ Gamache

Honoring Mother Every Day

  • I lost my father 29 years ago, when I was 19. My mother is nearly 80 years old, still ambulatory, but getting more frail each year. I realize that even though she has seemed indominable to me throughout my life that her life is winding down. She still has her compact car, keys, and license to drive, but she doesn't go far. She has always had a tremendous curiousity about life, and it makes me sad to see her world getting smaller and smaller due to her physical condition.

    As I've become more aware of this, I've been inviting her to come with me on little trips around town, especially into the city of St. Louis, about 20 miles from the inner-ring, older suburban area where we both live. I work downtown, and I know her so well, so I am aware of things she would enjoy seeing downtown.

    Yesterday I had to run to the office to retrive an item I'd left on Friday and needed that day. St. Louis is in high-gear with pre-event celebrations for the 2009 Major League Baseball Game that is being played here at Busch Stadium tomorrow (Tuesday, 7/14/09.) Downtown was jam-packed on Friday at dinner time, and I almost felt I had to fight my way out through the throngs. Good for the city, but I am glad to watch from my HD TV.

    I went early yesterday to the office, and I offered to take mom with me: "Come along for the ride!" I reminded her to wear her All-Star Game tee-shirt that I bought for her on the walk from the office to the MetroLink a few weeks ago at the Nike store near the stadium. Mom and my step-dad are both huge Cardinals fans, and they will be watching the All Star Game tomorrow (they watch every Cardinals game that's televised.)

    I know she felt she had a great outing yesterday. Only a few hours, but she's not really up to more in terms of enduring in the warm summer weather. She walks with a cane. She gets a little confused if I point out too many things too quickly (she had brain surgery a few years ago for what is called a AVM, aterio-veinous malformation, that began to bleed. She has some slight aphasia and slight vision loss in one eye from the results, but again, she pushes along.

    Another outing I took her on last year, that she would not have been able to do without support, is taking her to Oklahoma City to see her sister. These two had lived a half-continent apartment for 45 years, but spoke regularly by phone. Her sister, a few years old than mom, was in a fairly quick decline, and I thought it would be important for them to see each other. Mom and I hit the road late last September and saw Aunt Betty in a nursing home where she had been admitted after a hospitalization a few weeks earlier. Mom and I were planning to go back the last weekend of October, and Aunt Betty passed away a few days before our second trip. So glad I didn't hesitate and wait and procrastinate to do that for my mom.

    In two weeks, mom and I will be on the road to Monticello, Kentucky. This is a homecoming trip for both of us, in a way. My mother's grandmother (my great-grandmother) came from Monticello in the late 1800s (about age 8) with many in her extended family in a covered wagon caravan to St. Louis. Nobody in the family has made a homecoming trip to Monticello. It will fill in another piece of our human puzzle here for mom and I, and she is really looking forward to it.

    Mom and I have not always had an easy relationship (I would not even say it's an easy one now.) She is a socially anxious extravert; I am a friendly intravert. I always felt overwhelmed by her, overshadowed by her, dominated by her, even, from childhood until the last few years when I began to realize the tiger was losing its teeth. I think the best way I can repay the gift of life that she gave me and the things she's done to make that a good one is to spend this time with her and help her continue to be part of the larger human experience. Really, though, how do repay the person who made sure you got tickets to see The Beatles when they toured and stopped in St. Louis in 1966? I will always be in her debt.

  • <i>Deleted Member</i>
    Deleted Member Love her to pieces, I just lost my mother...my best friend. I miss her so much.
    July 13, 2009 - delete
  • <i>Deleted Member</i>
    Deleted Member I'm sorry for your pain and loss. I'm watching these last few years as one friend after another loses a parent. I can't pretend that's not in my future, sooner or later (relative as those terms are.) She's my closest friend, my worst critic, and sometimes...  more
    July 13, 2009 - delete