Being still with Mom

First slide

Last weekend, as my neighbors braved sub-zero temperatures and shoveled out from Northern Virginia's latest snow storm, my husband and I flew to Florida. For the first time in nearly 30 years of marriage, we were without children - unencumbered by car seats, multiple suitcases or the need for a constant source of amusement and/or snacks. But our destination wasn't Disney World or sunny beaches; we were going to visit my 80-something mother.

I had all sorts of planned activities for us: shopping, lunching, going through old photos. I had decided that this would be a great opportunity for me to "give back" to her by taking her out.

Nothing of what I had planned happened.

Although she moves around her house quite well with her walker, her favorite activity is sitting in a big blue chair in the kitchen while watching television. I discovered that she can do this for hours on end.

She loved having me sit with her and talk, TV blaring in the background. We covered quite a bit of ground, discussing everything from family matters to the latest presidential debates. As my husband worked around her house, repairing all sorts of things that had broken and were forgotten, she and I passed the hours. I rediscovered what a fascinating, intelligent woman she was - and still is.

Meals were the highlight of our trip, and the anticipation of the next meal was almost more exciting than the one currently being shared. As a special gift for Valentine's Day, my husband woke early and made her home fries and a four-egg omelette for breakfast, setting the table with beautiful place settings and a dozen red roses. I'll never forget the look on her face when she saw it.

So, that wonderful man did it again the following morning. By her smile, you would have thought we'd taken her to dine at the Ritz.

There were times when she and I sat together in silence, just looking out at her dock over the Indian River. I thought about how my children virtually grew up on that dock during every vacation, fishing from morning until evening and searching for manatees and dolphins. Now, they are grown up, and the noise of children squealing and splashing has been replaced by the silent lapping of the river on the dock posts.

"It's so peaceful," my mom said. "I don't ever want to leave here."

I can't blame her. Despite everything I had planned to do, wanted to do, thought should be done during our visit, just sitting and listening to the quiet was exactly what she wanted to do - and what I needed, too.

I went there on a mission to "take care" of my mom for a few days. But, it turns out, she took care of me by slowing me down and letting me simply be with her.

Witko can be reached at mwitko@catholicherald.com.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2016