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 who loves (and writes) about adventure, health and fitness in your 50s and, though she misses her kid, is enjoying the next chapter of her life.

Read more posts by Karen

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