My Inner Worlds
Today my mother enters a new year, and I’d like to say a new beginning. But for her that won’t happen. Mom’s diagnosis of Alzheimers was officially made over three years ago, but her mental ability declined well before the doctor’s announcement. I remember a family gathering the summer of 2013 when I knew my mother was no longer inhabiting the body of the woman standing before me. I shared a sip of my beer with her as we made small talk in the kitchen. She almost fell backward..from one sip. My mind whispered, “This isn’t Mom. This is some sweet old lady, and Mom is gone.”
I love my mom. We didn’t always agree, but I’d say a lot of parents and children experience that phenomenon. The kids in my church and neighborhood adored her. Mom nurtured those who lacked a stable home, she fed the hungry and was known for her homemade chocolate chip cookies, and she played the piano every single year in the local elementary school so kids would have a music education. Many of my teachers from second grade through senior year of high school told Mom she was amazing and how they wished more parents were as involved as she was. Each of those teachers had a Webb child in their class almost every year for six years (we have a big family).
As a gift to Mom, who can no longer remember, I would like to share the incredibly selfless things she did for me as I grew up in a home with seven children.
First of all, I was born at home and Mom almost died. She presented the scissors used to cut my umbilical cord on each of my birthdays, sometimes getting quite emotional. When she was pregnant with me, she just knew she was carrying a little Sarah and named me before she and Dad knew my gender.
When I was 15, I got sick. We didn’t go to doctors for religious reasons, and I experienced illness for a year before it became a fad in my church to see a homeopathic doctor who treated our minister’s deathly-ill little girl. Dad and Mom drove me the two hours to his mountain office and our lives changed. My treatment, besides taking mega vitamins and homeopathic remedies, included a drastic change to my eating. No sugar, no caffeine, no wheat, no dairy, with several fruits and vegetables taken off the approved dietary plan. Mom prepared special meals for me for an entire year without complaining. She already cooked and baked everything from scratch for the family, now she cooked and baked twice per meal because her Budgie was not well. (She also gave me a nickname early in my life, and it’s stuck in our family’s lingo.)
When I was 17, I got sick again. Repeat the above paragraph. When I was 19…yep, you guessed it. Sick. This time, though, the dietary changes were extreme. Fresh juice for every meal and snack for six out of seven days. My mom became a juicing machine. She scoured all the grocery stores for fruits and vegetables in a time when juicing wasn’t popular. Her budget was limited, and eating a fresh foods diet strained the family resources. I felt bad for the added expense, but somehow Mom made it all happen.
Now that I’m once again changing my eating choices due to a desire for a healthier body and for ethical considerations, I am appalled at all the work I face in making my meals. I’m having to consider what to cut out of my life so I can have time to cook, and go to yoga, and write, oh yeah…and work the day job. The love that will probably dwindle into fond memories is reading, a pastime that has served me since my awkward teen years when a story was more comfortable than socializing. Mom didn’t have the luxury of reading until most of the kids left for college. Then she became a voracious reader, keeping reams of notes on her favorite epic fantasy series because the plots and characters became too intertwined for even the author to track without an assistant. I think somewhere my dad still has those notes.
I wish I could juice Mom back to health and well-being, as she did for me years ago. Instead, I’ll keep the memories alive until I no longer can.
Happy birthday, Mom.