by Kevin Burton
My mother is running her victory lap with a walker.
Victory laps are supposed to be slower than the race itself, right? So there you go, it’s a chance to celebrate.
And make no mistake this is victory in Jesus, as the song says.
You’ll pardon her if there isn’t so much waving. She mostly needs both hands on the walker to keep moving steady as she goes.
Mom says she doesn’t care anything about Mother’s Day. We make it a point to honor her every day. We’re not waiting for a greeting card company to tell us when to show the love.
But it is Mother’s Day and we want to reinforce what we say and do every day. So we have made some modest plans to go see her at the assisted living facility today.
We don’t have gifts for her specific to Mother’s Day except a card. Every time we visit, we take something that will make her life easier. Mostly this is food, as we’re constantly encouraging her to eat more. Mother’s Day is usually about family and food, low-key and comfortable.
My mother is getting very close to being 88 years old. Of course you never know at any age when this Mother’s Day will be the last one. But something about 87, 88 keeps the thought in your mind.
We’ve been talking about the old days and some of our recent memories, doing so on tape. I’ve been doing what I do best, interviewing, drawing out the color and the memories of days gone by.
I had the same idea when my father was very sick with prostate cancer, to record his thoughts, but we didn’t follow up on it.
Mom struggles to remember sometimes (hey so do I!), but I think that’s as much from the red recording light being on as from the advanced years. She does a great job telling the stories. One memory triggers a small flood of others. This is our new Thursday routine. We limit the recording to about 30 to 45 minutes each week to keep from overtaxing her.
I’ve already learned some things in these sessions. For example, when Mom was in elementary school her mother and father sent her from Texas to stay for a year with her grandparents in Wichita. I’ve never heard her mention that before.
Of course we are doing this recording because once she dies, her memories are gone from us forever. We don’t talk about this on our Thursdays together. But when I tell her I need the bathroom it isn’t always because it’s a bathroom. Sometimes I am retreating to shed a tear or two.
Mom pushes the envelope toward the active side. On a recent weekday she made the longish walk to the front of her building to get the mail, then on the way back went past her apartment to get a cheeseburger from the dining room. When she feels good enough she prays for the strength to do such things.
“I asked the Lord to let me do these thing and I did them,” she said.
I thank my mother often for using the walker. If she were to fall and break a bone, her quality of life would be severely curtailed at least in the short run.
Assisted living represents an admission that immediate medical attention and increasing assistance with activities of daily living are essential. She doesn’t love being there, we don’t love having her there. But this is also part of her victory lap.
Mom has been able to name and honor the name of Jesus in a place where that name is used more as a swear word. She complains sometimes, but more and more is able to reflect.
There is a beat up red suitcase I use to take things to Mom. My briefcase with the tape recorder is inside on Thursdays, along with whatever else I have. It doesn’t look like much, but it helps us along her victory lap.
The message today is seize the day, Mother’s Day, any day. A mother’s love is like no other. Your mother is with you only so long. Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed.