I’ve seen things on social media which suggest that, as I watched my mother age, I’d be more likely to remember her as she was when she was young. Or at the very least, I’ll remember her as she was when I was young. When I consider this, after having had her with me for her last 6-years, I don’t see it that way. I’ve mostly forgotten my mother in her youth — the mother of my youth.
As she aged, and as her physical and cognitive abilities lessened, the images of my mother in her youth faded over time, giving way to the more indelible imprints of my mother as she was in her decline. This is not a bad thing. Five years from now or even 20, I’m sure I won’t think too much of or remember too well the mother of my youth, but I’ll always remember my aged mom.
When I think of her then, as she was when she was young compared to how I saw her these past 6-years, it’s been a tale of two women. The mother of my youth could hike, swim, stay up late, and prepare a holiday feast for 12 in less than 3-hours, but there was yet to be that earned dignity which defined her at the end.
As her steps became unsteady, as her voice began to quiver and as her hands more resembled parched road maps with coffee stains on them, the wisdom, the experience, and survivalism that came with those added up to the dignity I’ll choose to remember her with.
This is a good reminder that, as bright and capable as I may feel today, I’ve yet to pay my real dues. The dues I speak of are not the dues of career, of parenthood, or of middle-age responsibilities — I’ve done all that and so did my mom.
The real dues my mother paid — those she paid in her final years, are the most important dues of all. Those were the dues of having it all — and of having it all slowly slip away. Yet each day, despite her physical and cognitive decline, she woke with the intentions of living, loving, and being there for anyone who needed her. I’m not sure it’s in me to be that unbridled.
I’m grateful that I’ll remember my mother as person who fell asleep on the sofa each day by 3pm, who heated up a Stouffer’s corn soufflé for dinner rather than attempt to make one from scratch, who often called me by my brother’s name, and who asked me the same damned questions and offered the same stories again and again.
That person — the mother who graced this house with dignity etched onto her aging face and skin, is the mother that reminds me daily, even in the vacuum of her absence, I’ll be more like her in the not too distant future than the me I am today.
And it’s that mother, not the mother of my youth, who reminds me it’s a fool’s task to pursue perpetual youth, and that the only dignity which matters is the dignity that comes only from letting go of youth and letting go of all those things that, as time proves to us all, never mattered much to begin with.
This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb
This week by the numbers…
Bikes Ridden: 6
Mph Avg: 14.0
Seat Time: 16 hours 36 minutes
Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along this week. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like 👍🏻 and a share. Oh, and there’s this from Spoon. Enjoy…!