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Posts Tagged ‘Gratitude’

It’s easy to miss the signs of love if you aren’t looking for them.  All my life, my mother encouraged me to take risks, to go off on adventures, to see the world, to create without any expectation of the outcome.  For years, I took this for granted…   this is just what my mother did, just who she was.  It’s only now that I see my friends angst as their kids set off on their own that I have a glimpse into how hard this must have been for my mother.

When I was five, though she watched every lesson, she willed her self not to intervene so that I could learn to swim.  I was taking swimming lessons and was terrified of drowning.  For the first few days of swimming lessons, I held on to the wall for dear life.  You could not pry my fingers off the ledge of that wall.  Finally, the head of the program took drastic measures and tossed me out into pool.  I floundered until I realized that I was floating.  I heard her tell her friends how hard it was to watch, how she wanted to run in and rescue me, to protect me from my fear.  But she knew that I had to do it, had to take risks and face my fear in order to really grow up.

When I was 15, she went through a similar tug as I learned to drive.  I had inherited a Ford Courier pick-up truck that, as my father would say, “had been rode hard and put up wet.”  Sometimes it would start.  Sometimes it wouldn’t.  When it did run, often as not, it stammered and sputtered and stalled.  And when it was running well, sometimes the brakes just didn’t work at all.  How she didn’t have a heart attach every time I left the house is beyond me.

I started college when I was 17.  I was incredibly naive and was ill prepared for the possibility that my professor would abuse his position.  She never let on that she was worried about his attention or intentions…   When he invited me to dinner, she came along as if it was the most natural thing in the world.  She just created reasons to go to school with me.  She’d make it into an adventure.  We’d go to the mall or out to dinner or to a movie, just the two of us.  The key is that she was there when I got out of class, a physical deterrent to any funny business on his part.  She let me figure out on my own that something was off.

When I was 19, I moved to Mexico for a summer.  She kept her concerns about the political unrest, corrupt police, Montezuma’s revenge and all those horrible things that could possibly happen to an American girl abroad to herself.  Instead, she focused on the adventure of it and her excitement for me to have the chance to explore new worlds.  When I was 22, I moved to London.  Again, she supported the adventure of it and didn’t burden me with her fears or the fact that having me so far away almost broke her heart.

Seeing her pain through the hearts of my friends, I get it now, that while sometimes love is about holding someone close to you, sometimes love is about letting go.

Sitting with her, witching her drift off to where ever it is that Alzheimer’s is taking her, I don’t know that I can let her go with the same sort of grace.  I don’t know that I can mask my grief and fear of losing her.  I catch myself clinging to who she was with the same tenacity I had when I clung to that wall in the swimming pool when I was five.  Only this time, I’m afraid of drowning in my pain.

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