“Honor your father and mother so that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.” ~Exodus 20:12
Honor….1. regard with great respect; value, prize cherish; 2. To fulfill (an obligation) or keep (an agreement). Parents are so valued in the eyes of God that He specifically included them in the Commandments given to Moses on Mt. Sinai…that we should bestow them honor. The first definition is easy for me however the second one becomes more challenging with advancing age.
I find myself a bit melancholy this Mother’s Day. My mom turned 87 last month and to borrow a line from Bilbo Baggins, age it seems has finally caught up with her. She has aged so much in the last two years; at times it even seems like I notice changes from day to day….like a beautiful ice sculpture slowly melting in cold sunlight.
It is a strange space to reside, watching your parent age and walking that path beside them. That steady fingers that I held when taking my first steps, now tremble while holding a pen to write a check. The hands so strong that held mine tightly while crossing a street, now weak, bony, and always cold. The strong woman with the energy to work full time, looked after the needs of seven children and maintain a large house now tires easily walking from room to room. My mom has given so much and now she asks for so little; companionship, share a meal, laugh and listen. I will do my best to honor those requests.
When you become the caregiver of a parent the nature of your relationship changes dramatically. Our relationship changed in the fall of 2017 when she was diagnosed with lung cancer and I became her health advocate. She recovered completely from her cancer and the experience bonded us in a special way. Since that time, she has come to depend on my more and more; we have become more than just mother and daughter…we have become friends.
She still lives in her own home…currently by herself; and I visit 4-5 times a week and visit for 5-6 hours each time. We do puzzles, watch old tv shows but mostly I listen….I listen to stories that I have heard countless times before, I listen to regrets she’s had, I listen to memories of her childhood, I listen to the complicated relationship she had with her own mother. When her mood grows dark and stormy from thoughts of her past, I try to bring light and joy back to her present. It can be a hard role to play…but nothing of true value comes easy.
I endeavor to honor her wish that she stays in her own home until the end. Not knowing what that end may entail could place me in a difficult position and having to make difficult decisions. By the grace of God, I pray I will make good decisions for her and give her the honor that she is due, for she is a child of God too.
This was not the Mother’s Day post I had intended to write…but hopefully it is just as honoring. I love you mom, Happy Mother’s Day!