Last week, I had the opportunity to surprise my 88-year-old mother in Lubbock, Texas, with a long overdue visit. I had a meeting in Arizona earlier in that week so Pamela and I decided to delay our return home and stop in Texas.
Traveling to Lubbock is no easy feat, but we made it happen. It had been two and one-half years since I last saw my mother, which was actually the last time that she traveled out of Lubbock. We attended a family wedding and she traveled with my younger sister, who swore that it was the last time that they would travel together. My octogenarian mother has lost her filter; pretty much what she thinks she says, which can get quite interesting on a good day. Two and a half years is far too much time, but my schedule and the challenges in traveling to Lubbock make it very difficult to visit.
I do talk with my mother at least once a week, which seems more than sufficient until I see it in print in front of me. (Yikes, note to self, call your mother more frequently.) My mother has always been very tough from as far back as I can remember. She is a very nice person until you cross her or make her do something that she doesn’t want to do. Not many people get thrown out of the hospital, but last year she did. She was difficult, somewhat abusive, non-compliant and a real challenge to the point that her doctors said, "There isn’t much that we can do for you if you aren’t going to listen." My sister asked her, “What if you were in Barry’s hospital?” Her response, “Well, I sure as hell wouldn’t act like this!”
Quite frankly, I didn’t know what to expect with the visit nor did Pamela. Pamela is now the heavy when my mother has a medical emergency and doesn’t want to go to the hospital. So Pamela gets to assess her via the telephone, photographs or Skype and has to threaten my mother that if she isn’t compliant, she will have to go the hospital. So far, we’ve been lucky with this approach, but it won’t last forever. Pamela thought that she might not be welcomed as a result. To make a long story short, we arrived and rang the bell. She was surprised to see me and shocked to see Pamela.
All in all, she was absolutely thrilled that we came for a visit. It was time very well spent for everyone, even with six inches of snow (the most that Lubbock has seen in a very long time). We were able to run some errands for her, take her dog to the vet and have the dog groomed. We assessed the house and were able to have some much needed upgrades to her kitchen done. We took her to dinner and she was absolutely delightful throughout the visit.
Although we are already planning our next visit for later this year, saying good-bye was very difficult. Seeing this frail, elderly woman who still lives by herself in a neighborhood that has changed for the worst over the last 36 years was more emotional for me than I expected. What was more of a duty visit became a much cherished time that we were able to spend with my mother. As I was pulling out of her driveway and seeing her standing there waving goodbye, I was holding back tears and saying to myself that she deserves better from her only son. See you soon, Mom.