I'm writing my second installment of my personal photography project as it coincides with Mother's Day. I'll look back at this time with my parents and remember the gestures. My memories of loved ones always replay in a panoply of simple gestures and it won't be any different with my mom and dad.
Today is Mother's Day and while everyone is celebrating at restaurants or having a family feast at home, my family will spend it in my dad's hospital room. It's his second hospital stint in two weeks which have been emotionally intense. It's the beginning of a journey many have taken and endured.
Since my dad's illness two years ago I've watched my mom in her full-time, twenty-four-hour caregiver role. Her gestures while caring for my dad tell a narrative of a deep, abiding devotion to the man she vowed to love in sickness and in health. Her commitment is conveyed through every diaper change; her homecooked meals speak of fortification; her sleepless nights reveal concern; her loyalty expressed in his washed laundry; her hope evident in the meticulous way she dispersed his medication; her fidelity communicated each time she's broken down and cried.
In the past two weeks, she's ridden in one ambulance too many and slept nightly on uncomfortable hospital sofas. Her heart's been crushed at being told her husband of 49 years is nearing the end: cancer is spreading, renal failure with fluid retention, etc. More than watching my dad's suffering, my mom's fear of being left alone is the most excruciating to bear. I know her kids, grandkids, and great-grandkid will be incapable of filling the vast absence my dad will leave behind. Will surrounding her with love, support and patience be enough?
When I look back on this particular Mother's Day I'll remember how my mom defined motherhood not through her maternal ministrations but by her true character as a woman who loves deeply and selflessly.
For those of you who have lost your mom I send a prayer of honor for her. To all the moms who are living, loving, caring, giving, nurturing, working, protecting, comforting, and doing her thing I salute all of you!
To my Mom, I know today isn't a happy one for you but we all love you. Happy Mother's Day!
(You can read my first installment of my personal project: Hands of a Caregiver.)