I just have a lot to say.
April 9th, 2014 by

It’s Not about Mama

I’m not ready to talk about Mama. She’s been dead for 13 years, and I still feel like I’ve been sucker punched in the gut when I think about it.

You’re supposed to take care of your mama but not while you’re pregnant. That’s when she’s supposed to take care of you.

You’re not supposed to send your 6-year-old twin girls to spy on your mama on another aisle in the grocery store (even though they think it’s an adventure), in case she gets turned around, when she wants the independence of pushing her own buggy. She is supposed to be watching them.

You’re not supposed to hire a sitter to spend the evening with your mama while you and your husband take the kids out for pizza. Your mama is supposed to babysit, so the two of you can go out for pizza by yourselves.

The memory of the juxtaposition of your 2-year-old son’s mind exploding and your 65-year-old mama’s mind imploding nauseates you. Suddenly, you could tell the toddler a two-step command: “Go to your room and bring me your shoes,” while your mama could only now handle one at a time: “Let’s go to your room. Let’s put on your shoes.”

You don’t want to remember the exhaustion from listening to the two 1st graders read their library books to you while bathing the toddler and knowing you still have to undress your mama for bed.

You don’t want to remember the frustration of wanting a moment’s peace, because she always wanted to be beside you, and the only place she wouldn’t think to look for you was in your closet or behind the sofa in the playroom, so you would go hide there from time to time to catch your breath, and you could hear her looking for you.

You don’t want to remember the suffocation of having the weight of the whole world on your shoulders at 35 years old, because your daddy was dead, your mama was an only child, your grandmama was living with one sister (who had three elementary-aged children of her own), and your other sister was too far away for much hands-on help (and that still grieves her).

You don’t want to remember your self-pity that could temporarily blind you to the horror of your mama’s deterioration until you literally fell prostrate on the floor beside your bed and sobbed, “REMIND ME AGAIN ABOUT NOT GROWING WEARY!!!!”

You don’t want to remember her boredom and her restlessness, because she lost the ability to read and the attention span to watch a movie.

You don’t want to remember her fear of diminishing and her sorrow that she, who had taken care of everybody for so long, had become a burden at such a young age for both of you.

You don’t want to remember your anger at the Whole Awful Situation.

You don’t want to hear another person tell you how brave you were. You didn’t feel brave. You didn’t want to be brave. But she modeled bravery. So, what other choice did you have?

You don’t want to remember all the things you wish you had done differently, even though you know that she knew that you were doing the best that you could.

You wish you had been more patient with her as she struggled to find her words—at least in your heart, if maybe your impatience didn’t always show on your face.

You wish you could remember more times that you held her and let her cry and sang “Blessed Assurance” to her.

You wonder what advice she forgot to give you or simply ran out of time to tell you.

You wonder what treasured memories were stolen from you.

Even telling her grandchildren about the twinkle in her eyes and her smile that could light up the room and her laughter that was louder than your own causes a lump in your throat because of the way those things were silenced:  not snuffed out like a candle but dimmed a little every day like a gas light.

No, I can talk about Daddy all day long. But I don’t want to talk about Mama.




7 Responses to “It’s Not about Mama”
  1. todd parker says

    Celeste, from the outside looking in, I would have thought you have always lived a charmed life. How could someone who is always smiling, always on the brink of laughing out loud, and never showing a hint of frustration have had it any other way? Whatever has happened in your past has all been part of a master plan to form this incredible person we call Celeste. Thanks for letting God do his thing!

    Proud to know you!


  2. Tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat. How well I know the rollarcaster ride of the
    dz called Alzheimers, to experience you must travel too. If I had known what I know today, I feel I could handle it better and with more compassion. However “The moving finger writes and having writ, moves on, nor all your piety or wit can cancel half a line. nor all your tears wash out a word of it.” However, the good memories remain and that with faith is what fortifies you and keeps you going.

  3. Celeste,
    This is a difficult read for me because I missed out on being your close friend when you were so isolated and burdened. However, I did have the privilege of knowing the lady who possessed twinkling eyes and a smile that could light up the room. Miss Lanelle is no doubt finding ALL of the right words to tell everybody in heaven about her 3 beautiful daughters and her grands!

  4. Barbara L says

    Celeste. you will never know just how much you helped prepare me to take care of my sister. What joy it was to see you leading you children and Mom through the Church and parking lot. That is one more precious moment. When I had to take over the shopping for my sister, it was easy to take her by the hand and shop Sam’s, Belk’s and even Walmarts. She was so happy and I had the precious memory of you and your “children”. I still go and feed her bananas, chocolates and her dinner and I hug and love her because you have made the pathway easier for me. LOVE

  5. My heartaches for you at the loss of both parents at such a young age. Living away and be tied up in my own “little” world I didn’t realize that your mom had passed away until I read your blog about your dad. I’m sorry! I pray that God will comfort your heart as you think about your wonderful Mama and Dad.

  6. Robin Smith says

    Celeste, Thank you for sharing your hearts deepest sadness. I share your pain regarding your Mom. My daddy’s passing was unexpected while my mother’s, like your mom’s, was a daily battle of deterioration. Take joy in knowing she wouldn’t have traded her time with you for anything!! It was all part of God’s magnificent plan.

  7. Mandy McCoy says

    Oh how I can relate to this Cissy because of my mother. Thank you.
    Cousin Mandy

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