My mom spent a lifetime caring for me; I spent 25 years caring for her
Mom was always well-dressed, as women were in the '60s.

My mom spent a lifetime caring for me; I spent 25 years caring for her

DOG DAZE - Kathy Moran (The Philippine Star) - November 19, 2019 - 12:00am

I grew up as the sixth child in a family of seven. For the first three years of my life, I was the youngest.

As a young child I was the baby of sorts, and the obvious fact to me was that our first house was built for eight, not nine.

So you can imagine that as a child I played the role of the cutest

The bunsos: The author, Kathy Moran, with her youngest brother Hans, dad Henry and mom Edita

got away with a lot of things because I was good at it.


Just Like Mom

I remember that because my mom was a mother and housewife, she wanted my older and only sister to become like her. But I was the one who snuck out while she was teaching us how to cook as well as she did. My obedient sister stayed and listened. So today, she is the good cook, while I… well.

My mom wanted us to learn to play the piano, sew, and watch over the kids like her. I didn’t do well at those, either. My sister and I had piano lessons but when our piano teacher came, I would feign sickness or hide. But, as mothers are, my mom seemed resigned to accept me for who I was, even if that meant I was different from her.

As I got older, mom would encourage me to do what I set my eyes on because I think she knew I could.

A promise

When my father passed in 1995, knowing the closeness of the bond between my parents, I promised my dying dad that I would take care of mom like he did.

The last 25 years of my life have not been easy, but they have not been hard, either. Interesting, is what I would call them.

The last five years with mommy were the most challenging for me because she was changing and so was I. As she became older and more dependent on me, I became more of the parent that I felt she needed to have.

“Kathy, what are we going to do?” would be a common question from her when something was not right with her other children.

This last year was the hardest for me. Mom had changed in ways I could never have imagined and she seemed to need me more, both physically and otherwise. I needed to become more and more the parent and she became more and more the one who needed a parent.

On Oct. 23, her helpers and I noticed a change in her breathing. I called one of her doctors and asked him to guide me step by step as to what I must do to help her get better.

I was a tough parent when I was with my mom, never letting my emotions get the better of me.

But on Oct. 23, at 2:40 p.m., I learned one last lesson from mom that will stay with me forever.

As her breath and the oxygen content in her body was quickly deteriorating, I held her arm, and whispered to her to breathe as I attached the oxygen contraption to her nose. As I did this, I prayed aloud so she could hear me. And it seems she did, as her oxygen level normalized for a few seconds.

I whispered to her,”Don’t worry about us, we will be fine.”

As soon as I said this, her oxygen began to dip further and somehow I knew she was slipping into the next life.

Then I whispered, “If there are people calling you to go with them, go. Don’t worry about us; we will be fine. Go towards the light.”

As I look back, I realized it was a line I had often heard in movies about people transitioning to the next life. And sure enough, I saw her oxygen level dip for the last time, even if the oxygen apparatus  was still attached to her.

As I look back on those final eight to 10 minutes of her life, I realize that she wanted to teach me one last lesson. She had suffered so much in the last month, but even if she was in pain, she did not want to let go until I said I would be fine. She wanted to hear it from me, I guess, and would not leave me until she knew I would be okay.

That was what mom was in my life: the person who was there when I was too weak to know I needed her.

Today, I look for Mom, not because I spent a lot of my time caring for her, but because she spent her lifetime waiting for me to be ready to go out on my own.

In the time since my mother passed I have had to cope with my grief, and sadly, it has not been easy. I was supposed to be ready when my mother passed from pneumonia. I was supposed to be ready to say goodbye. After all, she was in her late 80s and had been ill for the past month. Her health had been rapidly declining before my eyes, and we brought her home from the hospital so she could pass in the comforts of her home. My family and I knew the end was coming— we were supposed to be ready.

But I was not.

For those of you like me who are coping with the loss of a loved one, here are eight tips that are helping me through it:

1. Don’t expect to be ready for the natural order of things — that parents pass before their kids. I wasn’t and you won’t be.

2. Never let anyone belittle the loss, make you feel guilty for grieving deeply, or hurry you through your grief. You are entitled to feel all of grief’s intricacies and intensity.

3. Be kind to yourself. Grieving for a parent, like all grief, can be exhausting emotionally, physically and spiritually.

4. The work of grief takes time; the process must not be hurried. And it is never entirely over.

5. Even as an adult, don’t be surprised by feelings of abandonment and uncertainty that you experience.

6. Believe in the power of prayer. My two older brothers have reminded me that my parents always believed in prayer. So, I always remember to say a prayer that mommy and daddy may continue to guide us, their kids, from above.

7. Grief does not end. Rather, grief comes and goes. And then it comes again.

8. Seek out support from others who’ve been there: a friend who cares, or a professional who can help guide you through the work of grief.


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