Pat St. Pierre started her freelance writing while in high school. She has published fiction, nonfiction, and poetry for both adults and children. Her third poetry book “Full Circle” has been published by Kelsay Books. Her writings can be found both online and in print. Some of her work can be found at: Fiction 365, Friday Flash Fiction, 50 word story, Silver Boomer Books. Kids Imagination Train, A Long Story Short, etc. She is also a freelance photographer whose photos have been on the covers and included in such places as: Front Porch Review, Boston Literary Review, 4 Ties Literary Review, Ramshackle Review, Peacock Journal, Our Day’s Encounter, etc. Her blog is www.pstpierre.wordpress.com.
Treasures from My Mother
Recently my mother passed away. I am one of the fortunate ones to have had my mother in my life until my golden years.
The last six or seven years of her life my mother had dementia. I am grateful that it wasn’t Alzheimer’s and that she knew her children and grandchildren right up until her death.
But during these years, I missed the mother she once was. Although she still tried to give advice she wasn’t the feisty woman of before. Not that I wanted her that way but during her remaining years she was a lot quieter. I think she reflected on her life and knew that the end was drawing near.
Although she did have her share of illnesses and hospital stays during the last few years, I’m thankful that I didn’t have to watch her waste away from a debilitating illness. She was a diabetic, she was hypertensive, she had CHF, she had a colostomy, she had an irregular heart beat and she was on oxygen 24/7. During the last four years of her life, she developed mirsa (a staph infection) while in the hospital and the prognosis was not very good. A huge ulcer developed that looked as though it might not heal. Fortunately it did. The last two years of her life she had fallen several times (reason unknown) and had lengthy hospital stays. The last fall/heart attack was to be her last
I visited her every week and sometimes twice a week and even though each visit was a long one most of our conversations were superficial. Once in a while she would touch on some subject and sound like my mother of years before but usually we talked about daily routines and the weather.
Five years ago I needed her to be my mother of before. My oldest son passed away and when I told her about his death I wanted to bury my head in her lap and have her hold me. But that did not happen. She was the one who needed me and yet I needed her so desperately. During the following months and years, there were so many times I would be grieving and crying on the way to her home. When I entered the door I had to put on a fake façade and pretend the world was right with me.
Although her death is still recent, my mind has begun to think about my own eventual end. I have thought about all the areas in my own life that I would like to change. I don’t want to leave my sons with boxes and boxes of useless items. I cherish the notes my mother left on each item that she had stored away and I also realize that she grew up in the days of the depression and every item was kept in case it was needed some day. In my mother’s case she even kept replacement parts to old coffee pots, irons, blenders, etc. I don’t want to burden my sons with that kind of clutter. Recently I have looked around my house, garage, and attic and I seem to see a carbon copy of my mother in me. Not that I keep replacement parts but I seem to be keeping so many items that I really can do without. I have to force myself to let go of these meaningless items. How many sheets, towels, coffee pots, dishes, etc. do I really need? Of course, not many. That is one lesson I have learned from losing my mother.
I also know that I want to grow old and be near my children. I don’t want to be hundreds of miles away and only hear their voices. As we age and our minds become slower we carry the images of our loved ones but their physical present, I believe, is important for our comfort and happiness.
My mother loved to save recipes. She never made so many of those delightful findings but she still put them away to be used at a later date and time. Amongst her many recipe clippings I found a stapled 3 page story that someone had written. There was a note attached that read, “For Patty to read”. Curiosity enhanced my interest and so I sat down and read the story. The author had written a children’s short story. My mother was constantly encouraging me to write. This little gem brought tears to my eyes. It was as though so many years prior to her death she knew I would find this and once again her words of encouragement were alive to me.
Hidden among her canceled checks and receipts were little treasures that were tucked away for many years. It was as though as was trying to say these precious little pieces of paper were considered very valuable to her. There were so many little notes and things that she had saved from her grandchildren. Things that I had completely forgotten about. One of those precious items was a Christmas list from my oldest son written when he was seven. On the list to his Nana were three items: a hammer, screws and a saw. Another was a dated note from my mother that said my youngest son had delivered a rose to her and left it on her kitchen table because she wasn’t home. And yet another treasure was a large drawing one of my sons had made when he was in Kindergarten. The rolled up drawing was tucked away in the basement in one of her cooking pots. An unusual place but so nice to find it.
So, I’ve made a decision that no I don’t want to be a person who saves duplicate and broken items like my mother did. But yes I definitely want to follow in her footsteps. I’d like to think about the expressions on my sons’ and grandsons’ faces when they search through my belongings and find things that they never expected to find. Perhaps I’ll make them each a memory box and place items in there that I’ve already saved. Or maybe, just like my mother, I’ll let them find little notes and precious items tucked away. I can just hear their voices when they say “these are treasures from my mother”.