Yet abuse is not the only thief of a person’s time on this earth. I recently learned my beloved mother has a brain tumor. It is quite large, and while benign, comes with consequences.
Good-Bye, Mom…Hello, Mom?
Despite the abuse in my childhood, and the issues it has caused, my mother and I were close until a couple years ago. We know now that her tumor was then beginning to cause symptoms. We also know that the damage to my mother’s brain from the tumor means that she will never recover to “herself”.
It is surreal. I have to accept, much as I hate to, that the role model of my childhood—the woman who buffered the worst of the abuse, encouraged my education and self-confidence—is not going to return. She’s gone. She can’t return. Yet there she lies, in front of me, alive and speaking and in no danger of imminent death.
No More Lilacs
My mother’s favorite scent was always lilacs. A bush in bloom could draw her from fifty paces away, and a bundle of the soft pale purple blooms always made her smile.
She also loved vanilla, and lavender, and lemon, but lilacs were the flower whose scent she most enjoyed.
The tumor has killed her olfactory nerve. My mother, whose life was full of excited examination of the perfumes of Nature, is gone.
Because of the tumor’s size and position, my mother’s optic nerves are endangered.
A woman who read books constantly, who loved colorful posters and paintings, delighted in visiting art museums, will be fortunate to keep her eyesight at all. What remains of it may still qualify her as legally blind in at least one eye, or suffering severe sensitivity to light.
My mother, who loved bright sunny days, may not be able to go outside in such weather again.
“Quite a Personality”
One thing people agree upon about my mother is that she is “quite a personality”. Co-workers found her quick of wit and quick to help. Neighbors liked to wave and smile and chat with her. Everyone found her kind, and if ever an animal needed help, she helped. Anyone in trouble was treated kindly, and she never let me forget that compassion was for compassion’s sake, since we all need it.
Since the tumor began manifesting symptoms—though we did not know it then—she became more and more dour. Her humor became hostility. Anger at anyone became hostile treatment of me, which was rather awkward, since I housed her until six months ago. She became prone to loud angry cursing, to such an extent that neighbors complained.
Whatever the result of treatment, the tumor’s effects on my mother’s brain mean that her personality will remain at least somewhat altered. It is unlikely anyone will meet the charitable, giving, gentle mother of my past. They will see an unsmiling recluse, and that is the mother I now must learn to know.
Only Memory Remains
It is ironic that I am grateful for a good memory. I have railed against it, so often, because it meant I remembered the abuse. It gave me nightmares. I had no escape from the ruthless hounding of past voices telling me I earned the pain, deserved it.
Now, only memory allows me the mother who did so much to save me. Her tumor robs her of much, and I grieve on her behalf, but I cannot help being selfish. I have lost still more of my past, and it is the part I cherished most: The parent who loved me.
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images courtesy openclipartvectors, pixel2013, heblo and geralt, via Pixabay