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Caregivers Who Have Lost Someone
Bittersweet Mother's Day
Mom was released from dementia three years ago on Mother's Day. She was surrounded by love; my husband and I, my sister and her daughter, my daughter and her husband, my niece, we were all there. Our church friends were out in the MC lobby, and came in to say their goodbyes. She had a peaceful, even beautiful, passing.
Over the past three years I have moved through "stage 8" in a variety of ways. Last year I realized how much I had let myself go and began focusing on my health. This year I have gone through more of Mom's things, sorting and organizing. Some things I have donated to people who will use and appreciate them; other things have been sent off to my sister or others in our circle of family and friends. My husband is worried that I am giving away too many of her things, but I don't feel that way. There are material possessions my mother collected and hoarded, things she was obsessed with and had many items that were similar, like the pictures from her Thomas Kinkade phase. Her walls were covered with such items, but I don't want that for myself, so they go to people that do. I have no remorse about giving those things away, and in fact feel joy over it. One gift went to a friend of mine who knew mom; her own mother died of Alzheimer's two years ago, and her husband has vascular dementia. To see this friend's day brightened by receiving a simple keepsake meant more to me than having that same picture sitting in a box in my closet.
These last few weeks I've been going through boxes that contain things like pictures, greeting cards, letters, notes, and magazine clippings. It has been a bit like taking a trip through my mom's life. There were cards that were exchanged between Mom and Dad, love notes and poems my dad wrote her when he couldn't afford a gift, receipts and letters from the time Dad went through alcoholism recovery in the early 70's, letters to my grandparents, artwork and report cards from her children, handmade cards from grandchildren, and the wallet my brother had on him when he died in 1979. It all served to remind me what a strong person my mother really was, and how much she endured in her life. All of these remnants were sorted and placed in boxes for safekeeping.
I feel like I've said goodbye to Mom just a little bit more, without letting go of who she was or the relationship we had. It has been a bittersweet week.
How interesting, Deb.
If I didn't know better, I would have said that you were writing about me instead of yourself. My mom also passed on Mother's Day, although it was 2017, which, if my math is correct, was one year prior to your mom's passing.
What makes this even more fascinating to me is that I was not able to go through a lot of my mom's things until only very recently when my younger brother - finally - moved out of mom's house and I was able to get in there and start cleaning it up prior to selling it.
Lots of the things I found were important to mom, but not so much to me. Beat up end tables that were there when I was a boy. The really old oak table that had been in the house forever. Cups and saucers. More cups and saucers. Even MORE cups and saucers ! The scrap book my mom started when I was a baby. Pictures, pictures, and more pictures. Letters. Old bills. A veritable treasure trove of memories. Some things I donated right away, and some I am even now not sure what I will do with them.
Thankfully, there is no one in this house now but me, and thus, I can take my time deciding what I want to keep, and what I will find new homes for.
It is a bittersweet experience, but overall , I'd say the sweet outweighs the bitter. My mom had a long life, and she had many more good memories than bad. Most of those memories have been shared with me since I was a child, and so I feel like I am the caretaker of those memories now.
Really, is there a better job in this world than that ?
I wanted to go to my mother's grave on Mother's Day like I did last year, but didn't and now don't recall why. Maybe bad weather? The long detour around the highway closure? I regret it.
My house is full of the beautiful things mom collected over her lifetime. She moved in with me and I wanted it to feel like her home, too. I split her things equally up with my siblings a week after mom died. Now if my husbands say something about one of the items like, "do we really need this?", I get sad or angry and tell him to stay away from my mom's things! I am very possessive about her things.
I wish I had the same feeling as you do, but I don't want to lose any more parts of my mom. I even kept her letters from her sisters-all in Japanese- and I can't even read them! I know crazy, lol!