Lessons From Mom And A Life Well Lived
I went to the nursing home yesterday to visit my Mom. My Mom is Russian, my Dad Belgium. Mom is 86. After surviving WWII and working for the United Nations finding homes for refuges, they moved to Canada. Then after a few years they adopted my brother and then me a few years later at 24 months old.
Now, after living in the same house for over fifty years she is in a nursing home. I did not have a particularly warm and openly loving relationship with my parents. It was a strict household and even my friends were afraid of my mom with her heavy Russian accent and piercing dark look. The most important lesson I figured out later in life is that my parents cared an awful lot. They had their own way of showing love. Sometimes we get frustrated with our parents and their unreasonable rules and push for us to conform to society’s standards. But all they really wanted for me was to have a good life and grow up to be a good man. I think they succeeded.
Now I am putting a few things aside to help my Dad look after Mom. I am making sure that the orderlies follow her eating habits. I asked them to put the table and chairs in her room that are missing. I visit as much as possible. My Dad thinks that I can be a bit demanding. I can, but in a nice way.
A nursing home is not a good way for someone to live out their final days. They are away from their home, family and pets. But this is the best care we can find at the moment. My Dad cannot look after her 24/7. We do not know how much longer she has on this earth. I thought she would be gone after a few phone calls I received these past months. Some days it’s really hard to think about life and the end.
Now I put away a few of my own needs and concentrate on my families. I will not accept anything less than the best care for my Mom.
I think back to my childhood and the huge backyard garden, fresh veggies and fruit, home cooked meals every day, my bed done every morning and my Dad helping me out financially in my younger years. I think back to our picnics by the lake and my Mom and I listening to one of my Dads million stories.
I was one of the lucky ones in life. I’ve had parents that lived through frightening times, understood sacrifice, discipline and dished out tough love. I’m tougher for it.
I’m off to the nursing home now. I will see if she ate breakfast, if she is comfortable. If she is sleeping I will just sit beside her and chat with my Dad.
This isn’t a sad story or ending. It is a story about life. It is filled with many extraordinary memories. It is about a life well lived. It is about two people that came to another country after a terrible war, adopted two sons and loved life and loved them the best way they could.
I’m incredibly lucky to have been a part of it.
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