After a 15-year hiatus, my mother is coming to California to visit me.
During the many years she was caring for my father, who had Parkinson’s disease, my mother could not bring herself to leave his side. But now that he’s gone, she is ready to make the journey from New Hampshire.
For the past few days I’ve been thinking about her visit. What do I want her to experience?
Certainly, I want her to see some obvious changes since the last time she visited, like the new home we moved into four years ago and our little cocker spaniel, Rolo.
And of course, I would like her to come to my workplace. I’ve planned for her to visit Senior Concerns and meet our board and staff and our participants. I’d like for her to feel firsthand the amazing care and support we give to seniors and caregivers in our community.
Not only will she see what I’ve devoted the past 15 years of my life to, but she’ll see the place where I’ve gained a lot of the knowledge I’ve used in helping my parents navigate getting older.
I plan to have us visit with several of my friends. Besides allowing her to put a face to a name when we have our early morning telephone chats each day, I’d like for her to see a few of the kind, generous-of-heart friends who bring me joy and comfort.
My mother exemplifies such great values herself that I want her to see that those same values are important to me and to the people I choose as friends.
I’d also like to treat her to some special experiences that she wouldn’t get at home, like a boat cruise on Westlake Lake, some wonderful meals at our favorite restaurants and some of my home-cooked dinners.
But in thinking more deeply about her visit, what do I want my mother to feel in her heart when she returns home? Life is uncertain, and who knows, at her age, if she will ever be able to make the cross-country trip again.
Here are my thoughts:
I want her to feel especially proud of me for becoming a person of character, a valued worker, and a good wife and homemaker.
I want her to feel that she needn’t worry about me, that even though my husband and I don’t have children, I have a village to help me through any challenge.
I want her to feel that I am happy, that my life is full of meaningful work, great friendships and a beautiful community.
And most importantly, I want her to feel loved, that she is the most important woman in the world to me.
That’s a tall order for a twoweek trip, but it will be the longest time we’ve spent together as adults—ever.
Not too long ago, I applied for a sabbatical grant from the California Wellness Foundation. That grant would have paid my salary for three months while I went to do something totally unrelated to work. I proposed spending that time with my mother.
What a gift that would have been. So many of my friends who have lost their mothers carry the wish of just a few more hours with them.
While I did not get that grant, it is a true blessing that I will soon have two weeks to spend with the woman who has raised, guided and inspired me.