|Me and Mom, Summer 1996, less than a year before she died.|
Dishes, vacuuming, taking my younger siblings to their activities- I felt like I was constantly doing "mom stuff", and often felt resentful. And there were scarey times, too.
I remember being 16, calling my mom from a friend's house to see if I could stay out later. On the phone, she was out of breath and I could hear the pain in her voice. She told me she was lying on the couch and was in too much pain to get up. I raced home to help her, my night out ruined. We spent the evening at the ER; she had broken a rib by coughing.
There were sad times, too. The summer before I entered high school her health had deteriorated so badly that my siblings and I moved in with our dad because mom was moving to Florida so her mother could care for her.
|1994, High School football game|
My mother was very ill for many years before she died, yet looking back, I don't remember feeling cheated or that she wasn't a part of my life. Did I have extra chores in order to help her? Yes, so do my kids. Did I often have to stay home when she didn't feel well enough to take me to the mall? Yes, so do my kids. Was I raised to be responsible, independent, caring, and empathetic, in part because of my mother's illnesses? Yes, and so are my kids. For I am chronically ill, too.