August 14, 2009

August 14, 2009
Happy Birthday Mom

Today would have been my mother's 75th birthday. Mom passed away shortly after my birthday in 2003 after a lengthy illness.

It is still an odd feeling to know the one person who was in my life from the very beginning is no longer around. Unfortunately, I was out of the country and unreachable when Mom was admitted to the hospital the last time. I have been dealing with guilt about not being able to make it to her bedside since 2003 because being there for her was a promise I had made years beforehand.

See my Mom (and Dad) were always in my corner. Even when I am sure it caused them problems about having a gay son with AIDS in the 80s, she was always my biggest fan. Mom even ended up helping start a PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) chapter in her small conservative southern town of Pensacola, Florida.

I am sure Mom had to endure many instances after people knew I was HIV positive of having to stand up for me because of other people's ignorance and hate. Now this was in a time when most of my friends were disowned by their parents. Cast aside like just some piece of human trash and not their child. So I think you can understand while I think both of my parent are pretty remarkable.

It was amazing my mother was able to be alive as long as she did. But then she had an iron will about things when she set her mind to something. Even though she had three major strokes and too many mini-strokes to count, she was determined to live to see her 50th wedding anniversary. Luckily, she not only lived to see her 50th wedding anniversary but a couple of months longer. Mom told me the week after their anniversary it was one of the most special days in her life.

Now I know my Mom is in a better place. She was in constant pain for the last several years of her life. In fact, Dad had to take care of her twenty four hours a day for most of the last three years of her life after her last bad stroke. The last one was devastating and her speech was so slurred you could not understand her.

But true to herself, she fought back until for the most part she could control bodily functions and you could understand her when she spoke. Now the strokes did leave permanent damage. Mom would sometimes repeat the same story several times during the same visit or phone conversation. I look back and smile now thinking about those calls. I would listen to the same story over and over just to have the chance to hear her voice one more time.

One of my last visits home before Mom passed I noticed she was following Dad around the house constantly. Finally Dad asked her what she was doing after she had run into him several times. (By this time Mom was legally blind with only slight peripheral vision.) Mom turned to Dad and said she wanted to spend every second she had left with them man of her dreams. I could not help bursting into tears when I heard this and walked into another room. But that is the kind of love my parent's shared. While they had their arguments and problems like any couple, you knew they would always work things out and be together forever.

So for those of you reading this, who still have a mother who is still alive; I hope you call your Mom and tell her you love her. You don't have to wait until Mother's Day ya know.

I know I would give anything to be able to call and hear my Mom's voice again. But I guess that is something you really do not think about until after your loved one is gone.

Until we meet again; here's wishing you health, hope and happiness.

big bear hug,

Daddy Dab