One of the greatest gifts of my mother’s dementia has been this extra time with her where I’ve come to realize just how much she’s given me.
I used to recall with frustration and resentment the arguments we had when I was young and so very sure that she was set on controlling my life and holding me back. and now, as I raise my own young adult son, I see her side.
Now that the drain of her daily care is delegated to the trained staff of memory lane, I have time to visit her and laugh with her and see just how much of what I love about myself came to me by way of her.
On vacations, she would suddenly shout at my father to pull the car over. She wanted him to stop because she was overcome with excitement at seeing the orchard of orange trees in Florida. She slipped under the fence, picked a few stolen oranges, and shared them with juice running down her elbows. It is clear to me that my sense of adventure is hers.
I see now that we grow up together.
As my son readies himself to move out and begin his new life next week, I reflect on my parenting. In his younger years, I put on my face of ‘everything’s perfect’ to teach him grace and compassion. And in later years, I stripped it all away to teach him courage and resolve.
Just like my mother, I’ve done my best, making it up as I went along.
My promise to my sons is this simple gift – honest love, no locks or keys, the door is always open to this safe place that is your home.