Today my mother had surgery. Maybe I shouldn’t tell you that, after all she’s very private about her affairs, but I don’t think she’ll mind.
The surgery was done at an outpatient surgical center located about twenty minutes from her house, which is located about 2,000 miles from my house. I just came downstairs from helping her drink a cup of water through a straw. You see, there were a few other people who could have, and would have, taken her today, but I was the one who got to do it.
My mother knew this surgery was coming and she consulted with more than one doctor, both in her home state and mine (where she spends time each winter). Ultimately she felt most comfortable with the doctor who did today’s procedure, so she scheduled it for my fall break. I love visiting my childhood home and family and friends, but this time I kept my calendar clear. This time it’s all about Mom (although I did manage to squeeze in a quick visit with a wonderful friend last night).
This is really the first time I’ve been able to care for my mother in the ways that she’s cared for me numerous times over the years. She was there when I was in my twenties and told her not to come when I got my tonsils out. I was so glad that she didn’t listen. She was there when my son was rushed off to the NICU right after birth. She knew he would be alright, and he was. She was there when my marriage fell apart and I wasn’t sure what to do. She listened and put me in touch with someone who helped me form a plan, then she helped me put that plan into place.
I know my mother hates being dependent on anyone, so to me that makes it even more of a privilege to be here for her, even if she doesn’t need much.
I’m reminded of the time my grandmother had her gall bladder removed. She was a widow and lived alone. After her surgery she came to our house to recover. She slept in my little girl bedroom with the pink shag carpet and eyelet curtains, and I slept on the hide-a-bed in my mom’s study under an old army blanket. My mom put a small tv in my room for her, and together we watched Bobby Vinton. I’m glad my mom was there for her, too.
Mothers and daughters take care of each other, but when things go according to plan, mothers do the heavy lifting. They wouldn’t have it any other way.