Do you know the nagging type of mothers? Those that call you nine times every day? Well, my mom. Until October 2008, and for many years, my mom used to call me almost obsessively. When she’d be in Hadar shopping, she’d call to check if I needed any underwear, if my daughter needed socks, there’s a sale on children’s clothes, a new facial cream in SuperPharm. She’d call from the supermarket to check if I needed anything. Sometimes, she’d call to ask me to pick her up after an evening shift at the hospital, to drop her off at a belly dancing lesson, or to take her to a music session at the beach. She’d also give me several hundreds of shekels every month, behind my father’s back. For no reason. Yup, I had the most nagging type of mother there is, until October 2008.
In October 2008, when she was only 56 years old, while planning a trip to Egypt to an advanced belly dancing course, and a trip to some meditation ashram in India, a woman full of life, who danced some eight hours a week, who took Michelle, my daughter, on day trips, everything suddenly stopped. She suffered a massive CVA (stroke), which left her with the right side of her body paralyzed, as well as with severe aphasia (ability to comprehend and formulate language). From a lively, active, independent woman, she became – overnight – physically dependent on others in almost all daily activities. A woman without a voice of her own. And thus, all of a sudden, the phone went silent. Suddenly, the thing I most missed was her nagging in the middle of the day. No more phone calls about underwear or socks. The phone just didn’t ring anymore.
My family and I have gone through a long process in those eight years. Today, my friends ask me how can I be so optimistic all the time, and where do I get the strength and the patience to care for my mother three times a week with a smile? I won’t say it’s been easy. I won’t say I haven’t cried myself to sleep during the first two years. I won’t say my heart hasn’t been shattered into a thousand pieces every day all over again. But at some point, we need to start healing, and to start paying attention to what we do have, and not to what has been lost. And what we do have is a loving family. What we do have is a father that takes care of my mother with a dedication I have never seen in my life. My mother’s CVA has taught us to be a more loving, united, and caring family. But it has also taught me other things. I was 33 years old when it happened, just at the beginning of my professional career, and a single mother, running around from here to there, caught in the fast track to achievements and professional recognition. My mother’s CVA has taught me to slow down the pace of life, to stop and let myself be delighted at the smallest things life has to offer.
But most important of all, I have had the privilege to get to know Emilia. Emilia, who had always been defined in her role as “mother.” We tend to know our mothers and see them only in that role. I started getting to know Emilia, a woman in her own right, her childhood secrets, her desires, her laugh, the woman she is.
This article first appeared in Hebrew in PoliticallyCorret
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