Through the window, I see my brother-in-law's SUV pull up in front of the house. Several younger men gather to help maneuver my mother down from her seat and into the waiting wheelchair.
For a moment exhaustion pinches her face from the three-hour road trip and constant struggle to breathe, but then I see that familiar smile bloom wide, right to the edge of joyful laughter, so contagious that everyone around her smiles, too.
She said she wouldn't miss her grandson's wedding, and by golly, she made it.
I sigh in relief. Maybe she didn't have doubts about her attendance, but I sure did. Eight months ago, for reasons that still haven't been clearly diagnosed, her muscle strength and balance disappeared. Walking was already a challenge because of her asthma, but now she couldn't even stand without support.
At first she fought it, believing she just needed to push herself to build up her strength. She accepted the wheelchair as a temporary accessory, but if you turned your back for a second, she would jump up and try to walk. Upon waking in the morning, she would automatically head down the long hallway, alone and unassisted, to the bathroom.
Consequently, she fell. A lot. I witnessed a few of the falls myself, including one in the middle of the night when she took my dad down on top of her in the bathroom (he tried to stop her fall) and we subsequently spent the night in the emergency room.
I'm not sure how many other falls there were. She and Daddy tried to keep them secret.
"Mama, stop trying to walk without help. You don't want to miss the wedding, do you?"
She didn't. But it still took a few reminders before she started behaving and playing it safe, using the wheelchair to go down the hall and letting Daddy hover nearby when she needed to stand.
It's been a tough transition for all of us. Mama has always been the caregiver, so strong she makes the Steel Magnolias look like a bunch of wilting lilies. She's the Serenity Prayer and "where there's a will, there's a way" all rolled up in one, put into action. When something needed to be done, she just did it, without any whining or woe-is-me-ing.
She spent sleepless nights nursing us through the usual and not-so-usual childhood illnesses and injuries...encephalitis, whooping cough, dislocated hips. Later, in her forties, Mama maneuvered my quadriplegic brother's six-foot-frame in and out of his wheelchair, despite her petite size. And just a few years ago, in her late 70's, she took care of my older sister following her hip surgery.
Mama was with me to welcome my firstborn into the world, watched him while I worked and his dad went to school, and attended every special event of his life. There was no way in hell she'd miss his wedding, even if it meant relying on others for a change and accepting life in a wheelchair...at least for a little while.
God, grant me the serenity...
In honor of Mother's Day, Generation Fabulous asked us to talk about that other fabulous generation - our mothers. Whether we like it or not, and whether we knew them or not, our mothers helped shape us into the women we are today. I realize I'm blessed with an amazing mother and the chance to know her through the eyes of an adult, and I'm happy I got to share a little bit about her with you. To read more mom stories, go HERE.
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