I sat on the love-seat with Mom yesterday, after her shower. We talked and sang songs as we waited for Dad and my youngest brother to get back from grocery shopping. I held Mom’s soft, wrinkled hand and she leaned up against my arm.
I told Mom, “Today is your son’s birthday. He was your first baby boy.”
“You named him Ricky Ray.”
Mom smiled and repeated, “Ricky Ray.”
“He was cute and had brown eyes and brown hair and he made you smile and laugh.”
We chatted more, and though Mom could name both of her parents and all nine of her siblings, she seemed to have no memories of her own babies.
I helped Dad with some things in his office, checking on Mom periodically. I found Mom had dumped a take-out glass of Coke upside down on Dad’s chair. Thankfully it still had the lid on it, and was mostly just ice.
Then I found Mom tearing into a box of granola bars and eating them. A little later I discovered she’d taken the pump out of the bathroom soap dispenser and brought it and her toothbrush into the living room. I told Dad, “Mom is kind of like a busy toddler these days; only she’s taller and can reach more.” He nodded in agreement.
Dad and I finished our tasks and sat in the living room a bit. I asked him what time of day Ricky was born and Dad said in the middle of the night. And I pictured Mom and Dad, in their early twenties, driving to the hospital late at night excited and nervous about the birth of their first child.
I can picture them holding him, marveling at his perfection, and elated to have a healthy son. Their own precious baby. Their first born. Oh what joy he gave them! What charm he had!
And today Ricky Ray is more than twice the age Mom and Dad were when he was born. But Mom doesn’t know who he is. She doesn’t even remember that he, or any of her children, exists. Somehow that indestructible bond between mother and child seems to have been erased.
And it brings to mind my own children and their growing independence. One son is getting married soon, another is talking of moving out. Our youngest daughter is graduating. The days of cuddling and swing sets and scolding and kissing owies have faded away long ago.
And more and more the task of motherhood is to trust my children to God as they journey out strong and brave on their own adventures. And I watch and pray and cheer them on from the sidelines, with a heart full of love and tender memories.
My babies don’t need cuddling anymore. But my mama does. So I will sit close to her whenever I can and hold her wrinkled hand every chance I get. I will tell her I love her, even though she no longer knows who I am. I will hug her close while she is with us.
Because someday I know, she too will fade away. And then my task will be to trust her to God. And I will know then that she is standing strong and brave once more in the very presence of Jesus. And I can picture her praying and cheering on her children from there. And then her heart will once more be full of love and overflowing with tender memories.