Mum always had her back to us.
This wasn’t deliberate. She was just always busy doing something.
Whether the dishes, the laundry, the floor sweeping, the yard tending, the endless sewing……this was a woman who valued staying on task, until the work was done.
Or, at least, this was how we came to understand her.
In the weeks leading the swift decline from the glioblastoma which took her life, I would modify that conclusion.
Mum had always been a dreamer. A child of the Great Depression, she loved imagining what life would be like outside of the constraints of the reality dealt to her. And, she would indulge these fantasies, with her hands to the plow.
Reaching the end of her life so abruptly, the diagnosis roaring in a rush after vague symptoms not observed by anyone but Dad (whose comprehension of their import were never translated), I imagined that everything Mum had figured she would eventually do would now come sharply into the focus of regret. There was clearly no more time left, to go to France or England. Time would soon be replaced by eternity, and the scope of a state minus any literal framework seemed far removed from anything she could grasp with the view she had learned to accept as vastly finite. Far more appealing to simply ride out on the wings of unrealized dreams.
Like my mother before me, I stood at the kitchen sink this morning, scrubbing away at the countertop beneath the strainer tray, getting down to the stuck on grit neglected for so many months. As I worked, I could see and feel her, doing the very same. Even on Mother’s Day, Mum would gather the bones of her arthritic body, rise up out of bed, the Sunday dinner already prepared the night before, get dressed, wake the rest of us, place the beef roast in the oven, and scurry us all off in the car to Morning Worship, Dad walking alone the two and a half blocks to our mutual destination. Upon our return, the cards and potted plant gifted to her following dinner she would – after a brief, precious nap – resume her work, scrubbing the sink, wiping the stove of its drippings.
On Mother’s Day, to our mother being acknowledged was secondary; she, head of her own household, embodying both commitment and self sacrifice, had already determined that this day, like every other, was her own to spend exactly as she deemed important. And, that she did, to the glory of God, until her final breath and beyond.
Back to work.
Copyright 5/14/23 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author, Betty’s Daughter, whose name appears above this line. Please, share via blog link, exclusively and, if you quote, please cite the source. Thank you. Happy Mother’s Day, Mothers!