According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, a mother is:
a : a female parent
b (1): a woman in authority
b (2) : an old or elderly woman
I don’t dispute any of these definitions. In fact, my own identity applies to all three of these. However, these also apply to my sisters Audry Balli and Donna Tarlton. All three of us are mothers, grandmothers, and elderly, authoritative women who are currently caring for our own mother.
That is the strangest role of all, caring for the parent who took care of us for so long. It seems like just the other day when Mom was holding my hand while I cried because I was worried about my daughter’s first birth. We have prayed together, laughed together, cried together, and yes, even sang songs together (we love the Gaithers).
She was my biggest fan as I wrote little stories as a child on carefully folded scraps of paper and encouraged my every endeavor. The only time we had an issue was when I went into teaching instead of writing. “She’s not a teacher,” she told my husband as we discussed it over dinner one evening. However teaching, unlike my writing career, has paid the bills, put children through college, paid off a house and several cars, and taken care of multiple emergencies that arose through the years. Mom was right though, I don’t think I was ever meant to be a teacher. But there have been moments in my life where teaching has made it all worthwhile and actually given me something to write about.
Now, as the light dims in her eyes, I still love our moments together and have grown to accept the glue that has bound three girls together once again for a common cause – our Mom.
My mother has provided us a map for displaying “maternal tenderness or affection” (thank you Merriam- Webster) to every person she meets and has given us a clear path to follow. Now, as her time nears, she is teaching us how to die with grace and dignity.
Thank you, Mom, for being such a wonderful mother.