I look over at my mom occupying the passenger seat as I drive her to the appointment. Her emotions seem tangible, and that frown she's wearing, it makes my heart sink.
"No one bothered to ask me, to ask us, what we thought, and what we wanted," she says in a tone and volume she hasn't used with me in who knows how long.
I try to reassure her. "Mom, I did talk to both of you." But as the words depart from my mouth, they seem empty. Because I know that in her mind, it isn't true. There is nothing I can say except, "You are right, Mom. You should be consulted on these decisions."
Her spunky disposition, that lively spirit I can trace back to my earliest memories, it's still there. And slowly, in the midst of many trials and errors, I am learning. Music ~ songs dating back to her era ~ they seem to soothe her. I reach for a CD and fill the car with melodies from the forties. Instantly, the tension subsides, and I hear her voice chiming the lyrics she sang in her twenties. Her body begins to sway to the beat, hands tapping on her lap. The rest of the ride is a joyful one for mom, reliving memories I know nothing about.
Loving someone through this chapter in life, it's downright painful at times. "You need thicker skin," I hear. It's true. But how to grow thicker skin, yet hold on to the compassion and tenderness, is tricky.
Tomorrow will be more of the same ~ moments, when she's smiling, content. Others when she wrestles with confusion, muddled memories, and the agitation that accompanies both. Her, wanting so desperately to maintain control of her life and her surroundings. Faced with the harsh fact that those years are behind her. And me, trying to figure all this out. Loving her and caring for her in ways that keep her dignity in tact.
Memories flash before me, the years when I was a handful and my mom had her own share of moments when she felt inadequate, wondering if she was doing it right. Still, she did her best and loved me through it all. Does she deserve any less?
Love isn't always easy or pretty.
"Come on, sing along," she prods me with that feisty expression she wears so well. And I join in, grateful for the memories she still holds tightly in her mind, and for the ones we are making here in the car. Side by side, swaying to the music.