Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Mommies and Poppies

I’m still digesting the news I received last night that my Mom has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. While she is in relatively good shape mentally, and there is the possibility that she will retain her current level of memory for 6 months to 3 years, it’s still a shock. Oh, the things that have been coursing through my brain since last night are many…

I’m thinking this could be cathartic for me, and possibly healing for some of you to just journey with me for the next few minutes as I try, as best as I can, to capture my stream of consciousness, that is threatening to be a debris torrent.

We all thought Mom was forgetting things because she was still in mourning for her life partner of 60 years.  We thought she was depressed and that she would move through that phase eventually. We all miss Dad. We are just all processing his passing differently and we thought her way was through being stuck in her sadness.

Dad loved, and I mean LOVED poppies.  It was his favourite flower.  Because of that, poppies made my top-ten list as well.  One year I remember collecting poppy seeds in the wild and mailing them to him for a Christmas present. He loved that gift.

November and poppies have always signaled “Lest We Forget” to me.  I can remember as a young girl the smell in the air, that cold, fresh, almost snowy smell that heralded the pinning of a tiny felt poppy on my lapel.  Even before I knew what it meant, I knew it was special and something that needed honouring.

I have always felt patriotic and a deep gratitude for my country.  I know my Mom instilled that in me from a very early age. I cry when we march into an Olympic venue with our red and white colours proudly worn. I cried when Justin Trudeau was announced as our new Prime Minister because of the relief and joy I had, realizing we just got our country back. (I also cried the day I got the rejection letter from Margaret Trudeau saying I didn't make the cut to be Justin's nanny!)

Now, in the wake of this latest news of my Mom, (who ushered me into this world when she was but 19), poppies, November, “Lest We Forget”, all have an even deeper meaning than before. I don’t want to forget.  And it saddens me that she may not be able to hold onto the delicious memories of experiences that she conjured up for us that helped to mold us into healthy souls whose values strongly echo her own.

I love my Mom.  (That one’s for you Susannah!)

Now, more than ever, I am committed to living in the present and enjoying each moment fully.  While I of course will contribute to the decision making regarding her next steps, I don’t want to get embroiled in the “it’s going to be so sad when she can’t remember us any more”… another one of those phrases I can’t bring myself to say out loud.

I want to continue to spend as much time with her as I can.  Quality time. Where I’m helpful and where we are both nourished by each other’s presence.

I’m feeling really sad as I write this and at the same time am making friends with the reality of growing old… something that I’ve considered an enemy for many years. I’m beginning to see a glimmer of how being friends with all this can be so healing and helpful.  (After all, I’m no spring chicken either!)

Mom. You are an amazing woman.  I couldn’t have picked a better person to help me navigate through my life. As you have always been there for me, I am here for you too. 

The next 6 months to 3 years are going to be kickass.  I’m coming over.

With love from your favourite daughter,


P.S.  I remember you used to cry when I would sing this song.  I’m not including it because of that, but because I get it now. See you soon.

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