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Rediscovering My Mother

Rediscovering My Mother

 
By:  Laura Wilson February 23, 2021

I had never heard of my mom referred to as “Miss Terry”. There I was, sitting in her new apartment when the nurse came in and asked, “Miss Terry, are you ready for your medicines?” I could not believe my ears. My mom, Theresa, was always well-dressed and well-spoken, and certainly would not have entertained a professional calling her “Miss Terry”. My mother most certainly would have corrected the nurse. I stayed silent, watched the interaction between my beloved, wonderful mother and her nurse, and began pondering this turn of events.

On a lovely Michigan fall day in 2018, I received a phone call that changed the trajectory of my life. I am number 7 of 8 children, and the youngest girl, yet I always took on the role of caregiver for my parents. After my father went to be with the Lord in 2017, my 86 year old mom still continued on with her busy life. The retired geriatric nurse with 25+ grandkids was still planning funeral luncheons at church, organizing fund raisers for the county baby pantry, volunteering, socializing, and being her all-around fun-loving and generous self.

Terry came to a screeching halt that September. She fell nearly 15 feet backward down an embankment and landed head-first on to the corner of a sharp stone stair. After a trip via Med-Flight to the hospital and discussions with various specialists, the verdict was clear: my mom sustained a traumatic brain injury and irreversible brain damage. Enter Miss Terry.

After several months of hospitalization and rehabilitation, it came time for my mom to move into assisted living hundreds of miles away from her home and two miles away from me. My heart broke for her as she grieved over the loss of her home, her dog, her independence, her friends, her church community, her former life, and her mind.

My mom, who was so independent and the pillar of strength for our family and her community, was sitting like a helpless child, confused at her new surroundings. She kept asking me when she could go home, when could she see her dog, when could she see her friends, when could she drive? I sat with her many hours explaining what had happened to her. Yet, the brilliant nurse’s eyes glazed over with incomprehension of my hollow words. I wanted my mom back, too. I did not want this “Miss Terry”. I wanted MY MOM back as much as she did.

Over the past few years, Miss Terry has grown on me. As one of many children in the family and living away from my parents for my entire adult life, I have been blessed to have spent more time with Miss Terry than I ever did with Theresa. We share the same quirky sense of humor and have an incredible soft spot in our hearts for the underprivileged and the less fortunate.

Miss Terry is less pretentious and more open than Theresa. I have heard beautiful and painful stories about her childhood and family. I have learned of her unbelievably strong love of my father, and her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. I am not sure I would have heard those from Theresa.

Due to COVID19 restrictions, I hosted a drive by birthday party for my mom’s 89th birthday in December. We sang “Happy Birthday” outside, and spread 6 feet apart with masks on, as we watched this beautiful woman glow in the spotlight. She was given a gift of puzzle books, coloring books, crayons, and markers to help keep her occupied during these lonely months of the COVID19 quarantine, to which she replied, “Who do you think I am? A two year old? Give these to great-grand kids who will enjoy them. That will be a better gift to me.”

For a glimmering moment, my mom returned and God filled my heart with hope and love. “'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” Jeremiah 29:11.

Photo Credits 
https://unsplash.com/photos/dtgSAJVSqv8
https://unsplash.com/photos/Ag2zS3iB9hU
https://unsplash.com/photos/rKL0dtScWpY
https://unsplash.com/photos/TtmCQskf6xs


About the Author Laura WilsonLaura Wilson lives in Michigan and teaches at a Catholic school. She strives to achieve an average and “normal” life. Although she is not always successful, she knows that God has better and definitely more exciting plans than she could ever dream up.


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