Last week's visit with my mother ended in a lesson about love, caring, and the human touch - all experienced in a Springsteen sort of way.
Anyone who knows me well knows of my struggles with my parental units. Abuse. Alcoholism. Mental illness. The culmination of a lifetime of hard work and therapy brings Acceptance, and with acceptance comes love. Or, perhaps it is the other way around.
.....I braved traffic and lines to get my mom a bagel stick stuffed with lox cream cheese. I had forgotten it was the day of Kingston's St. Patrick's Day Parade, and the roads and plaza were packed with the traffic from floats and people. As I crawled along I wondered if I should have not bothered. Besides, she would not know what she was missing if I just showed up with the flowers.
But something told me to forget about time and the crowds, and pick it up for her. I figured it must get pretty boring eating all that nursing home food.
She was thrilled that I was there, and seemed not to care that I had not visited in a month and was joyful that I was there now. I handed her the bagel stick, and her eyes opened wide. In spite of missing teeth- the bridge is just too painful, she enjoyed each bite with gusto and delight.
I set the flowers in a vase by the window. Pink carnations, her favorite. We spent an hour looking at magazines together, she occasionally handing me a catalog of furniture that she thought I'd like, a recipe. An article. A photograph.
I went over to her nightstand to put on some hand lotion. She tried to give it to me to take home.
I refused it. But something made me stop. And something made me wonder how long it had been since someone had touched her with love.
"Mom, give me your hands, I am going to give you a hand massage". She leaned back on her pillow and closed her eyes, smiling as I massaged her hands, her arms. I had never touched my mother like that before, and I told her how young and smooth her skin was. She smiled, and through her missing teeth, I saw her heart. Through her almost 80 years I still saw youth. Through the lips that cannot talk, I heard her whisper about love.
I stayed much longer than I usually do. I was basking in a comfort that I had never felt before.
And I was grateful for that Sunday morning, grateful that I didn't stay in bed, grateful for the trip to the Bagel Shop. Most of all, grateful for that Sunday morning lesson of a lifetime. A lesson of love.