A thousand small hopes, a thousand big dreams. What of them now? What dreams did my mother leave unfulfilled? What small hopes? That she could have one more Christmas. That she could have one more drive through the desert with me and spend one more summer at the coast. That she could sit on her beloved beach one more time and hear the waves crash and watch the children run squealing from the cold surf lapping at their ankles boiling finally into thick foam and disappearing into the sand leaving a faint white bubbled line.
I know my mother wished she had traveled more both in the country and outside it. She said this fall as we were watching some show on television I can’t remember what triggered this but she said..I’ll never see France but you can travel there. I got on my phone right away and looked up travel to France and sent away for a request for information. I had had too much wine and I thought maybe I should just go and take her there this summer. I’ve taken her so many times on road trips to California with her oxygen and potties and adult diapers and all of it. What is a little trip to France. Even though I’m 30,000 dollars in debt and what if she should need medical care and what if we are on the street and she just can’t walk another step and I have to convince a taxi to drive her a block like my friend Lynn did with her mother.
I received email for weeks from the eager travel agent. “Let me show you France! I can plan the trip of a lifetime”. But I would see her sitting falling asleep in her chair and barely able to stay awake all day. I would see the ribs in her back and see her labored breathing. I saw her become skin and bones. I knew we would likely not see another summer together. I hoped that we would see Christmas.
What other hopes did she have what other dreams that I didn’t even ask about. Did she ever want another child? Did she wish she had stayed home with us when we were little in stead of working. Did she ever love my father? Did she regret not going to college. Did she love anyone that she never got to be with? Did she hope for her pain to stop or diminish?
I’ve been thinking about lives you see and all the things that are gone once they end. No more sunsets, no more sunrise. No more being angry with your friends. No more anything. I’m 61 years old and I spent the last 10 1/2 taking care of my mother. I wouldn’t have had it any other way. But it didn’t start that way. My friend Tim remarked that not many people would set aside 10 years of their life to take care of their mother. Did I do that? Set aside my life? I thought so at first. I thought it would be over in a few years.
But then I settled in and it was my life. My mother told me over the kitchen table when I was 8 or so that we were best friends and I always thought so. But it wasn’t until we lived together as adults that this became fully realized. And I know its true now because I miss her so.