Can I sail through the changing ocean tides?
Can I handle the seasons of my life?
~ Fleetwood Mac
My mother celebrated her 68th Mother's Day today. She wasn't aware of it, but that doesn't change the fact.
How fortunate am I, a Medicare-eligible senior citizen, to have my mother still. She is now frail, no longer mobile or cognizant of current reality. But somehow, she is there. My siblings and I all see occasional flashes of her feisty personality and unique humor, and those moments remind us that Mom remains Mom--even at nearly one hundred years of age.
There are many life lessons to be learned in this final phase of our lives as her children. These are lessons of patience, of sacrifice, of continuously adjusting to the tiring length and challenging contours of a very long goodbye. There are lessons, too, of gratitude, of love, and of realization that a long life leads down a hard and demanding road that summons us to be stronger than we had imagined we were or ever could be. We find that we can do it, for our mother's sake. Only she, and God, know how many times she had to be strong for each one of us.
Her parents died in quick succession in their mid-seventies, when my mother was in her forties and raising a young family. I'm sure her grief was much harder for her to bear than we ever guessed, but she never wavered. She carried on and cared for us. My mother handled the seasons of her life with quiet, prayerful, steely purpose. She forged a road map through hardship for all of her children to follow.
Although the circumstances are very different for my siblings and I, it's our turn to do the same for her. We need to see her through her final season, knowing this is simply what Mom would do.
And for one more year, I get to whisper a "Happy Mother's Day" prayer across the miles to my Mom. Gratitude. It may be the very best lesson of all.