Thursday, January 30, 2014

January 30 - My Mom

A quick little diversion from my normal posts. This is my Mom. She lives in Seattle and I live in Texas. This picture was taken last Christmas, shortly after her 92nd birthday. Being in no condition to travel, I wasn’t there. I have not seen her since last April and shortly thereafter I began my journey into topical steroid withdrawal.

My Mom lives in a memory care facility and suffers from the final stages of dementia. She has recently had a couple TIA’s, known as “mini strokes” but has recovered . She knows who I am when I call, and although much of the conversation makes little sense, the message that she loves me comes through loud and clear. I believe she understands that the love goes both ways. I have tried to explain to her what is happening to me, but she does not understand other than realizing I am trying to get well enough to make a trip to see her.

I have an unusual relationship with my Mom in that when I went through a divorce in 1999 I moved in with her for a couple years. As humiliating as it can be to be a 40-something guy living with his mom, she was the silver lining in a dark cloud. We became best friends. In one of our last lucid conversations, she explained that was a very special time for her.

Although my divorce agreement had a provision that neither parent could move more than 50 miles away from each other for our children’s sake, 10 years ago my ex-wife sued me to get legal permission to move to Texas with my two daughters. She won, and that is why I live in Texas. Fortunately, I have an awesome and supportive wife and stepdaughter that supported the move, and we have made lemonade from lemons. The hardest part by far has been living so far away from my Mom and siblings.

I bring this all up because throughout my adult life, my Mom has occasionally told me something that at the time sounded like an insult, but only now, going through TSW, do I appreciate it for what it was.

She told me that I would be hard to pick out in a crowd… that I was so… normal.

Nothing would make me happier than to be a normal, average guy that blends in with the crowd. That would be fabulous, and when I get there again, which I will, I will embrace it as sweetly as I do my Mom.


  1. Dave,
    As I read your post about your Mom I have tears streaming down my face. I don't understand the withdrawals from the steroid creams, I've never had to deal with something like this, but I can so relate to your situation with your Mom. I know how hard it is to be away from them when they are going through tough times. I know my Mom understood even if she couldn't remember things, and I bet your Mom understands. She knows what an awesome son, father, brother and friend you are. I remember when we would ask Mom if she understood and sometimes she did and other times, there was the deer in the headlights look. I pray that you are able to get through this ordeal and head to Seattle to see your Mom. I will say this, if the Lord takes her home before you can make it back to see her, then please know that it is ok. Your Mom and family will understand. I made the choice not to go back, after watching my Dad pass, I knew I couldn't do that with Mom. I was amazed that everyone understood and didn't pass judgment, it was the right choice for me. Whatever is the right choice for you, your family will understand. I am so thankful to a dear friend who called me while sitting with Mom right before she passed. As we were saying our good-byes, she held the phone up to my Mom's ear and I got to say so much to her one last time before she took her journey to be with my Dad and her precious Lord. Even then, she understood!! I don't know if I've helped or not, but just wanted to share my heart. Get well soon, my friend!! Take Care!! Love, Becky

    1. You have helped, Becky, and I really appreciate it. I just got off the phone with my Mom, and she actually understood why I am not yet able to come see her. Lot's of love from Texas!

  2. Heartbreaking post Dave, I challenge anyone not to read this and cry.

    As a fellow TSW sufferer I totally get the part about wanting to be normal and blend in.

    Sounds like your mom shared a pearl of wisdom there. Treasure it.

    Dementia is so cruel, taking away the ones we love so dearly. The photo is beautiful and she looks like a classy lady. You have been blessed to have such a good relationship with her over the years. Treasure your memories. X

  3. Dave, our story's are so similar. I divorced about 8 years ago and went to live with my mom as well. Her husband, my step dad, had terminal lung cancer and was in his last days. My mom had the exact same thing and had about 2-3 months to live but still was managing to take care of him and get around like a normal person. I remember so many times how I fruitlessly tried to get her to stop drinking Coke and eating sugary foods. She was only 67 and we were very close since we were only 16 years apart in age and I was her first born. Since I was a late teen and old enough to get out of the East coast and back to the NW where I was born we talked daily on the phone for decades and only saw each other twice in all those years. I was too busy trying to make my way in life and didn't have my priorities straight.

    Anyway, when I divorced my wife and went to live with my mom in Virginia I was in the middle of a year long grueling treatment for Hep C. I was battling for my own life at the time and even with the couple months I spent with her I still didn't take the opportunity to say the things I wanted, or wished I had said. Two weeks before her husband passed I left to move back to Oregon and start a new life. I knew he was just days away from passing, he was at home, not in a hospice. My mom and sister drove me to the airport and walked with me towards my gate. We said our goodbyes and as I walked away I looked back and saw in my mom's face an expression I will never ever forget. It was an expression of extreme emotional pain from the knowledge she would never see me again. It was written so painfully all over her face I almost broke down on the spot. It caught me off guard. I think I was in part denial about her condition and probably too focused on my own.

    But I knew, I had watched her make plans and prepare for not only the upcoming death of her husband, but also for her own death. It was heart breaking. Anyway, we did get to talk many more times over the phone for a couple months before she succumbed to the cancer and gave up. Even in those conversations I was focused on myself and not on her. I feel so ashamed. Life is full of regrets and all we can do is the best we know how and learn to forgive ourselves. It is in the forgiving of ourselves that gives us strength to carry on and help others.

    1. Dan, thanks for sharing. Your last sentence is wise indeed and will be added to my quotes database.