...when my Mom is gone. I know it's morbid and weird to talk about (or so Greg tells me, ha ha) when she's still so young and healthy, with her demise nowhere in sight... but I'm trying to learn from other people's life experiences and appreciate time spent with loved ones now, and relish each moment as a treasure, and know its value IN that moment. Everyone who's lost a parent says "Treasure your parents while you still have them." And I try to do just that.
Mom was here this weekend. She comes and spends the weekend once every few months of so, and it's always a good time. She feels very at-home, and we very much enjoy having her. Samantha and Jackson love having her here, and we always have more laughs than sleep, more food than stress, and it's just always "good times".
Saturday night, she and I made chinese food. Understand that Mom's chinese food is legendary, and revered as better than ANY restaurant by family and friends far and wide. Many-a-person has been converted from the "eww, I don't eat chinese" camp, to the "WOW, if it's as good as Karen's, I'll eat it any day!" camp by her beef and broccoli, her s-n-s chicken, her fried rice, and her eggrolls. Just trust me, the white lady can cook some chinese food, seriously.
Mom and I work well together in the kitchen, and we had a fun time. Greg wrangled both the kids to bed (bless your heart, dear) and so Mom and I really had time to focus on the cooking experience, with M*A*S*H playing in the background, of course.
As we stood reviewing the recipe at-hand, Mom did her trademark "finger sliding along the words" move, and suddenly a wave of emotion overcame me as I read over her shoulder. Those hands. I will miss her hands. And specifically, that finger.
Since childhood I have been fascinated by Mom's hands. I remember sitting with her, feeling the hardness of her rounded fingernail tips, which were always so white no matter what. Looking back I know that she NEVER had a manicure but they always looked perfect. Touching the rings on her fingers and pulling them up and down her fingers ... I remember the softness of her skin and the shape of her knuckles (which now have slightly smaller knuckle-twins in my own hands).
And now as I stood watching her, I was reminded that when she's really concentrating on something she's reading, she underlines the words with her fingertip as she reads them aloud, narrating what's to come, and shifts her weight slightly from one hip to the other. When she's done, a slight sweep of the page with her hand, and she's off to complete Step # Whatever. So simple, so seemingly insignificant, but she's been reading directions that way my whole life - the directions on the Easter egg dye kit...the directions on the new toy Santa brought...seed packages in the garden...Medication instructions in the middle of the night (the finger really had to work at 3 am)...
Seems so silly to say that I'll miss how she reads recipes out loud. But it's true. And I'll never look at that recipe again without remembering that. I guess it's just representative of how engrained she is in my life, and how much she is a part of me. I'll never watch M*A*S*H without thinking of her, I'll never take for granted how hard nurses' aides work, I'll never eat beef and broccoli in a restaurant (too disappointing, trust me), I'll never play Patty Cake with without hearing her sing it to Samantha and Jackson in my head, and I'll never forget that the finger on that hand. That hand, the hand that fed me, clothed me, swatted my butt, tied my shoes, helped me put on my graduation cap... the hand that walked me down the aisle at my wedding, held the camera while my first-born child came into the world, and held my hand when we buried Gram, held the cords on my son's ICU monitors, and that read the recipe in my kitchen on June 16, 2007.
So I am blogging about it, because I really can't even talk about it out loud without tears, and like I said, it's nowhere in sight. Even now, sitting here typing, I am choked up and overwhelmed. She's not sick, and her only arthritis in her thumbs is inconvenient but not debilitating. She watches her cholesterol, tries to walk regularly, eats her Cheerios, and works hard every day. Mom will most likely be with us for years to come, and while I do not usually dwell on what life with be like without her (mostly b/c it's too painful), this weekend had moments of sadness when I was struck by what a HUGE part of my life she is. I am so blessed by her. We all are. Surely heaven will be better and the world will be more empty when she goes. And I am afraid my heart will be forever broken when I touch those hands for the last time, folded to rest at last, when we say goodbye. God help me when that day comes.