Friday, May 9, 2008

Mother's Day card

I was close to Lynn’s Hallmark Tuesday afternoon, so I decided to go in and buy a Mother’s Day card.
I’m not sure who I was buying it for. Me, I guess.
My mom will not realize it’s Mother’s Day, I said to myself. She will not understand, I don’t think, when I explain it to her. And the significance of the card will mean nothing to her. I’ll hand her the card, kiss her and say “Happy Mother’s Day.” She won’t know how to open it, although it won’t be sealed, and when I hand it to her, she will turn it over and try to figure out what it is and how to open it. I’ll point out the pretty picture on the front and read the verse, and she will look at me with a blank stare or will look beyond me, not really hearing me.
Please don’t think I’m cruel in my description, but that’s how it is in this late stage of Alzheimer’s. Things that used to be so important to her — and that includes special greeting cards — have absolutely no meaning to her now. Not a speck.
But there I was, standing in the Mother’s Day aisle at Lynn’s, looking for a perfect card for my beloved mama. I could feel the knot in my throat before I picked up the first card. The knot turned to tears as soon as I read the message. It was something about Mom being the first person I call when I need someone, when I’m happy or sad.
“Oh my God, I can’t do this,” I said, knowing full well that Mama was always the first person to hear my good news and my bad. She was my rock. As her mind deteriorated, I stopped turning to her because it was too hard for both of us. Hard for her because she couldn’t comprehend or help me. Hard for me because she couldn’t comprehend or help me.
Up until maybe six months ago, I still told Mama my problems and concerns. I’d look her in the eye, and she’d look back (something she hardly ever does now.) She pretended she understood what I was saying. I pretended she understood what I was saying. I felt a little better. She felt a little better. It’s all very pitiful, isn’t it?
Anyway, back to Hallmark. My eyes roamed the pretty pastel cards with flowers on them, the ones with people on them. Wonder which one wouldn’t make me cry? But one caught my eye. A young girl with short blond hair peered from the corner of a card.
That child looked just like me and just like my daughter, for that matter! I couldn’t believe it. I picked it up, read the sentiment. Something about trying on Mom’s high heeled shoes. I did that! Every little girl has done that. But it didn’t really matter what the card said, it was the card I was buying. Somehow, it cheered me up knowing how excited my daughter would be to see the card because I knew she’d get it.
I’ll give Mama that card on Mother’s Day. She won’t recognize how much the child on the card looks like Anna and me, and I’ll probably cry again.
But I’ll give her a hug and a kiss anyway because she’s my mama, and I love her like no one else.

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