This I Believe

Dianne - Palos Heights, Illinois
Entered on June 8, 2006
Age Group: 65+
Themes: family

This I believe… there is an almost mystical bond shared by women, particularly in one’s own family, which spans the generations. I’ve felt it during family crises, especially when someone in my family was close to birth… or death. I felt it a few years ago when my mother was seriously ill.

My mother laid her head on my shoulder that day. It happened very naturally. She laid her head on my shoulder and nestled into me almost like a baby as we sat together in the parlor of the nursing home. She said she was very tired and hoped I didn’t mind.

I was somewhat surprised. She’d never done anything like that before. However, the last few weeks, since she became ill, had held many surprises for me — a real roller coaster of emotion, from fear, to sadness, to relief, and even joy at times. Each day I’d just been taking it as it came and trying to manage.

Sitting there in the unfamiliar surroundings of the nursing home with my mom leaning against me and my arm tentatively around her, my mind traveled back 30 years or more. Memories of times I’d held my baby daughters or my son as they cuddled into me when they were tired or feeling “petty”, as we called it in the family, passed before my eyes.

Bemused, but content, I sat there seeing these connections of the passing years. Going back further, I thought mom probably held me much like this when I was young. It felt familiar, yet strange. We weren’t in our right places. My mother, who was vulnerable now, was leaning on me as I’d leaned on her many times throughout my life. The responsibility felt heavy, but I knew it was her turn.

Wondering what she was feeling, I asked her if she were comfortable. She said she was. That was all. So we continued to sit there, my mom and I, not saying anything, but sharing some deep bond that tied us together.

But as we sat there, I began to understand. This covenant, which I felt this day, was not only between us two. It was more than that. Within our tacit embrace were the connections of the generations, past, future and beyond. It was as if one generation were touching the next, as mom and I were touching, with an unspoken message — continue.

Somehow, my grandmother and her mother were there too, now, as were my children and their children. We were all together this day, in this room, enclosed in a mysterious timeless circle. A sweet sadness began to fill me, for what I had, for what I would lose and for what would some day be.

Feeling like a link in a chain of family memories and events, and smiling to myself, I thought this is the way life is. It just goes on….