My Mother and Me - A lesson about Pain and Aging
I wrote this essay because i am compelled to write it as tribute to my mother.
My mother is 89 years old.Short Filipino woman who gave up everything for her children and my father..I have 4 sisters ,me and my dad.My mother never finished high school and never went to college because my grandparents were too poor to send her to school for higher education.She got married to my dad when she was 22 years old and had my eldest sister when she was 23 years old.She never had a professional career but the career she took on was a lot more meaningful ,challenging and rewarding than any other career I can think of ,in the professional world.She raised 5 daughters as Good decent human beings and loved my father even after 56 years of marriage. If that is not enough challenge for a career, I don't know what is.
My dad was an engineering student when he married my mom and so ,times were hard financially. My mother was a genius when it comes to family economics.She will go to the market and barter with the food vendors for her services in exchange for food.She offers washing clothes ,or sew a pair of children's underwear (she was very good in sewing children's underwear) or exchange eggs from her chicken coop for a kilo of meat,vegetables or fruit. Yes, we did have chicken coops when we were growing.My mother raised chickens for our own consumption.
I am now taking care of my mom as she is old,frail and thin.Recently ,she fell and broke her ribs as she was taking a shower. She was rushed by the ambulance to the hospital.The doctors took x-rays ,CT scans, lab work,procedures I am too familiar with and had taken them very lightly as I work in the hospital for a living.As the ER nurse wheeled my mom to undergo different medical procedures,the reality of our fragile lives hit me.I sat in th ER waiting room conferring with the nurses ,doctors ,respiratory therapists and other medical personnel.My mother was in extreme excruciating pain and cried with pain everytime she moves.This really breaks me.How I wish, i will just suffer the pain for my mother.She is old and frail and pain tolerance for her is definitely a struggle .I am much younger and I can definitely handle extreme pain more than her. Her pain brings back childhood memories when she masterfully doctored me and my sisters whenever we were sick with a flu or hurt ourselves playing in the schoolyard or were afraid to sleep at night for fear of the ghosts that we were told exist under our mosquito nets where we slept.Those were very memorable times.
How ironic it is that reversal of roles can happen so quickly .Years of unconditional sacrifice by my mother as she raised us up ,never complaining ,never expecting anything , is the greatest love of all. Now at 89 years old,no longer able to perform the roles she once did for me and my sisters I am challenged ,as a daughter and as a human being, to perform the same roles. My greatest hope and fear is how to return the same or more love to my aging mother. She is a very tough act to follow and I have doubts if I can surpass or replicate the sacrifice and love I was showered by her as a child growing up and into my adulthood.As i sat in the waiting room of the ER ,memories of my childhood and the different phases of my life before adulthood came crawling into my mind. I sat as calm as a clam reminiscing the past and how the past shaped me as a person.My mother is a religious person and always reminded us to make the sign of the cross properly. As a child, this was not my favorite chore but miracles seemed to happen as I reluctantly performed this chore.
The lessons learned about patience,forgiveness,sympathy and kindness -qualities that my mother exemplified ,lived and practiced by example all her life were attributes that i can only thank my mother for. She always reminded me and my sisters that nobody is ever a bad person,and to always remember that the same person who hurt you is also a person like me and you ,who,deep inside is also hurting ,feeling the same sadness, the same pain,the same struggles and instead of getting mad or even plotting revenge , small or big,Kill them with love.That part never left me -THE KILL THEM WITH LOVE PART.That was the favorite lesson my mother taught me. This reminds me of a phrase i read from a self help book: I may not agree with you and you hurt me but I still love you.
My fondest hope is to carry on the legacy of my mother- very simple human being but full of wisdom ,courage and strength that empowered her to surmount the winds and climb up to the clouds no matter what circumstances come her way.
I love you ,MOTHER-my hero. And that may never be enough.