My Mother Has Little Memory of Our Past, But I Do

In my mother’s eyes.

I see her past. The one she told me about when I was a child, and the one I came to understand as a woman. I see the poverty she described living in as a little girl and the strength that comes to those who made it through.

I see the years we spent — just the two of us — hoping she would find love again. I see the years when love finally arrived and the memories of our blended family.

mom and daughter
The author and her mom. (via Karen Hall)

I see her in the car driving me to the orthodontist and taking me window shopping after to cheer me up because I “looked so ugly,” and reminding me that I was beautiful despite the headgear and glasses.

I see the shyness she fought her entire life to overcome, and I hear the laughter she shared with those who knew her. I see her standing in the kitchen making jam with the blackberries I picked that morning.

I see her listening to me practice the piano and beaming with pride when I told her I would be graduating from college with honors. I see her brag to others about “her girls” even when her youngest was driving her crazy.

I see her standing beside me when the ultrasound showed a baby boy would grace our family and waiting all night for the little prince to make his debut.

I see her holding my hair back while I threw up on the day my divorce was final and reminding me that despite the pain…” this too shall pass.”

I see her loving my father until he died and her memory of him diminishing a little more every day. I see her loving us — all of us — with every ounce of her being.

I see her.

I see her present. The state of the in-between. I see her in a space where the days drift seamlessly into one another, and the hours sometimes go painstakingly slow. A space where one foot is in reality and the other in a land far, far away — only this is not a fairytale, and there is no fairy godmother to wave her magic wand to bring my mother back to me.

I see her face light up with pride over her latest coloring project or an intricate drawing she just finished for one of her girls. I see her frantically search for the phone when it rings and fumble as she tries to remember how to answer it.

I see how much she misses us, even though the moments are fleeting, and soon she is floating away again into the depths of Alzheimer’s.

I see her become quiet and distant in the moments the words she desperately wants to say escape her. I see her become angry and combative when she cannot remember how to button her shirt. And I see her smile and hear her laugh on the good days when we talk about things from days long gone.

I see her.

Though my mother’s eyes…

I see her future. And it scares me. I see the journey she is on, and it is the same one we watched her step-father take long ago. I see her taking daily steps toward the edge of a chasm from which she will never return.

And it scares me. Not because my child or I may take the same journey one day, but because I see myself now as her mother, and it is my job and, most of all, my honor to protect her from what lies ahead, even if the path is dark.

I see her spirited soul fighting for her independence. I see her gracious heart fighting for her family. I see her fighting for me — our brave, proud, strong, beautiful mother.

I see her.
I see her.

Through my mother’s eyes, I see her.

More to Read:

My Day Always Started With a Call to My Mom: Who Do I Call Now?

About Karen Hall

Karen is an Austin-based writer and high school English teacher who loves (and writes about) life, love, fitness and adventure in your 50s.

Read more posts by Karen

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