87: Mother-Daughter Connection

87: Mother-Daughter Connection

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Best Mom Ever!

Mother-Daughter Connection

When I tell you I love you I don’t say it out of habit or to make conversation. I say it to remind you that you are the best thing that ever happened to me.

~Author Unknown

When I awoke on that dreary, rainy Monday morning in August, it never occurred to me that in a few hours the day would turn completely dark. My husband had taken a vacation day, and my younger son asked if we could go shopping for a newly released video game.

After my son found his game, I proposed we stop for lunch and eat in the ShopRite café area. No one knew why I made this suggestion; it was at least a half-hour drive from where we were, and the rain was coming down in buckets. My husband wasn’t enthused with my idea, but went along with it anyway. For some reason I felt drawn to make that stop at ShopRite.

As we were walking around ShopRite deciding what to eat, we ran into my parents. I didn’t know they would be there. The five of us found what we wanted for lunch and sat together as we ate. My mother shared a story about something she watched on television, and then rested her head on my shoulder. I placed my arm around her and asked, “Ma, are you tired?” She didn’t respond, so in a louder tone I asked again; there was still no response. Keeping my left arm around her, I turned and with my right hand tapped her gently on the face and began screaming, “Ma! Ma!” Hysterical, I yelled across the table to my husband, “Call 911!”

The ambulance came and I rode in the passenger seat while my husband followed behind with my father and son. Now I knew why I had felt compelled to go out of our way to have lunch at ShopRite.

As my mother was fighting to stay alive in the back of the vehicle, my mind was racing faster than the ambulance. Did I tell her enough how much I loved her? Would there be another chance to tell her? Why was I short with her on the phone yesterday? So what if she had already told me that story once before, I should’ve listened without complaining.

By the time the ambulance reached the hospital, my mother was semi-conscious but her vital signs were poor. In my purse, I carried her list of medications so I gave them to the emergency room nurse and then filled out all the paperwork while the staff tended to my mother. She had a series of tests scheduled, including blood tests, a CT scan, and an EKG.

My mother appeared so fragile and uncertain of her surroundings. It was hard to see her hooked up to all those devices and intravenous lines. Was her life flashing through her mind like a family video?

I know what I was remembering — all the times she cared for me. The time she drove me to the hospital for a tetanus shot after I rode my bicycle into a rusty wheelbarrow, and the many times she brought me trays of ginger ale and cherry Jell-O when I was sick with mumps, measles, stomach viruses, and so much more.

I thought about how she would walk my sister and me to school when we didn’t have a car, then walk across town to work, and then walk back to pick us up at 3:00. If she was tired, she never let on. After school, she made us homemade eggnog with milk, chocolate syrup and whole eggs. She baked the best cinnamon coffee cake from scratch. I wondered if I had ever told her that.

So many memories of her sacrifices were racing through my mind. So many occasions when she took care of us and put us first. I wished I could have displayed even more gratitude than I had as a child, but of course children don’t think ahead that way.

After undergoing tests, and receiving continuous care, Mom appeared fully conscious, but no diagnosis or prognosis was offered about her condition. She had to stay the night for further observation and monitoring of her heart. When told this, Mom began shaking like a young child afraid of being left alone in the dark. I asked the nurse if I could stay with my mother overnight, and was given the okay.

That night the roles were reversed; I was the one by my mother’s bedside, nurturing and caring for her. We joked and I told my mother, “This wasn’t how I planned a girls’ night out.” I sat up straight with my legs stretched across another chair watching my mother sleep through the night. The next morning my mother thanked me. She explained how at first she was afraid of dying during the night, but with me by her side, she knew she would live to see another day. She had additional tests scheduled, and it was concluded that Mom needed a pacemaker.

That was six years ago, and my mother is still with us. I talk with her every day and we make plans for lunch, doctor and hair appointments, walks in the park, shopping, or just going for a bran muffin and decaf tea. It’s not what we do that’s important, it’s that we do it together.

I don’t know what guided me to that ShopRite six years ago — God, a guardian angel, sixth sense, gut feeling or intuition — perhaps they’re all the same thing. What matters is that we got our second chance, and I am enjoying every day of it with my mother.

~Valerie Testa Almquist

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