Tuesday, December 4, 2012

lessons i learned from my mother ~ the value of family

The one thing my sister wanted was a little sister. She was eight years old, so maybe when she put in her request with our parents, she failed to specify what kind of little sister she wanted.

She wanted the frilly, baby-doll toting, sweet-talking kind of little sister, and instead she got the dinky-car driving, dirt-loving, motorcycle-rider-wannabe kind of sister.

As we grew up, she liked me less and less. Sadly, the feeling was pretty much mutual.

When I was thirteen, and living alone with Mom, she got cancer. The cancer came and went and finally became terminal when I was eighteen. Mom was given six months to live.

(wow, it's weird to even write that, all these years later)

Mom didn't want to die in the hospital. She didn't want to be alone. And so I dropped out of university and went home to care for her. Heather, my sister, took a leave of absence from her work (she lived a few thousand miles away from us) to take care of her, too.

My sister thought I was selfish, immature, a "bad girl" and totally unreliable and unfeeling.

I thought Heather was a prude, stuck-up, a goody-two-shoes and totally out of touch.

For six weeks we lived in a small apartment and cared for our dying mother. We cared for her every need ~ fed her, washed her, gave her medication. Hospice came to help once day. A nurse came once a day. Her coworkers and friends brought meals.

But all the rest of the time it was just us, watching our mom fade away.

Heather would break down and cry whenever Mom called her by a different name.

I wouldn't cry at all.

I could sit and talk with Mom, going along with whatever reality she was living at that moment.

Heather couldn't bear to see how far Mom had fallen.

We discovered that where she was weak I was strong and where I was weak, she was strong.

We discovered we could love each other.

Now, twenty-five years later, we do love each other. We are the best of friends. We are family.

Mom did that. She brought us together. Taught us that differences can be set aside, in fact differences help us fit together. She showed me the value of family.

37 comments:

  1. The value of family - absolutely priceless. Thank you so much for sharing this journey with us Ali - to be reminded of the importance of those things we can take for granted is greatly appreciated.

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  2. I will admit it-- I cried as I read this because it is eerily familiar. My mom died of cancer two years ago. During her illness, my sister and I yelled more than we talked. Towards the end, we pulled it together. Afterwards, we got each other through. Now, I can't go through most days without her.

    Beautifully written. Thank you for sharing this.

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  3. I love this SO VERY MUCH!!! I truly believe we receive gifts from everyone in our lives...even when the things we are going through are very difficult at the time.

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  4. Nothing like a small sobfest with my morning cup of Joe.. What a beautiful, sad story. Thank you for sharing this. THANK YOU

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  5. Glad that your family experience is a good one. Mine is, too, but there's a quite a few that could be a better support to each other. Glad your mom was able to make that happen for you. :)

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  6. Great post, Ali. it's true about families, and while I'm so sad your mom died, I'm so happy you have your sister to be close to.

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  8. Isn't it amazing what good things can come out of the worst circumstances?

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  9. Crying! And so happy for you and your sister...I think I'll go text mine now.

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  10. I remember meeting her at your launch for Desolation. She's just as warm and friendly as you are. And I also loved your stories of how much you'd laugh when you got together. It's a beautiful thing that your mom brought you two together, even through tragedy. Maybe, especially through tragedy.

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