Keep Smiling with Rosie Preston: A daughter’s tribute to her mother

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By Rosie Preston

Often times after getting settled into bed, I allow my mind to go back in time to a certain age or year, and the memories will start to flow. These are a few memories I pay tribute to my mother on this special Mother’s Day.

Had I any idea that life would feel like the blink of an eye, I certainly would have appreciated my mother more. I think it’s taken life’s experience and living to be the eldest of the family that has given me the chance to be thankful for the years I could visit my mom at the nursing home. I’d like to share a few situations with you. Some of them may not sound like it would be something to smile about, but my mother had a great sense of humor!

Several years ago, my mother was put into a hospice program, and we didn’t think she had much time before her life on this earth ended. I walked into her room one day and she was lying there as still as could be. I immediately thought it was the end. I fell on top of her and held her and sobbed. This is what my mother did – she opened one eye and said, “You thought I was dead, didn’t you?” She then laughed about her prank! That was only one of the times that she almost gave me a bit of her own memories. By the way, she lived about seven years longer than was expected from that day she pranked me!

There were other days I’ll always remember. I walked into her room and we began sharing about my sisters and family members. My mother looked at me, gave me a big grin and asked, “Do you remember how much you used to get in trouble because you would try to get me to change my mind?”

She then she looked at me and said, “Most of those arguments we had when you thought you were grown, were started by you!”

I’d never heard that explained before!

Oh my, my mother was the one laughing about that, because during my teenage years I’m sure that I thought I knew everything. Maybe I should have kept my mouth shut and respected my mom’s decision to let me go somewhere (or not) for a night with a friend instead of turning my wishes into a verbal war. In today’s world, I understand the fear she must have had about her eldest daughter trying to grow up as soon as possible. But I did not. I would cry and accuse her of not loving me, or she would let me go wherever I wanted.

Shortly before my mother passed away on August 29, 2020, she asked, “Rosie, how did you know where to find me? How long have I been here?” I always told her she had been there only a few days which seemed to settle her.

But there was another day that still makes me smile. I walked into her room and she said, “Rosie, I’m so glad you are here! I’ve been calling out for you! You’ve got to do something! These ladies are trying to take my puppies! I want to keep them with me!” She was telling the truth, as the nursing home’s employees told me it was all they could do to keep her from sliding out of bed as she screamed my name! Mother was remembering a Collie we had for years when I was young. Lady always had a huge number litter of puppies, at least eight every few months. I knew my mother was talking about all the puppies we had to give away. So I walked out of her room while assuring her I would explain to the ladies to let her keep her puppies. She never mentioned it again.

I learned so much during the time my mother was a resident in different nursing homes. She was taken care of by strangers who did things for money what I would have done for love. But after taking care of her for a while after my dad died, I knew I could not do it anymore. I was exhausted. It still saddens me beyond belief. I was a regular watchdog for my mother, so the last six months that I could not visit her were terrible, because I knew the COVID-19 had attacked the nursing home patients and employees.

There were many heartaches I faced while trying to be there to protect her from anything that was not being done or from the neglect she had endured by some employees there. I often wondered how the home’s residents made it without a family member or loved one keeping an eye on them. There were many good employees, however, and the others just seemed to drift away. Usually, my mother had kind and caring nurses and aides to whom I will always remain grateful.

It’s now been over a year since the COVID-19 sent waves of sickness throughout the entire building, just as it did in all cities and states across the United States. I see people on the news talking about the same issues we faced, which was the pain of not getting to be there for our family members and having them dying alone.

Even though I miss my mother with all my heart, I would not bring her back. We often talked of heaven, and my mother was always winning Biblical Trivia games when she could still go to the recreation room every day. She knew her Bible, and I’m thankful for all those years she took me and my sisters to church. It has given me a roller coaster ride of questioning what is true and what may have been prevalent during the time the Bible was written several hundred years after the crucifixion.

On this Mother’s Day weekend, if weather permits, I’ve cut several branches off my pink rose bushes to root. They are now ready to be planted at my family’s tombstone. I will plant one of my rose bushes on each side. I’m not stopping there. Grandparents, aunts and my dad and mom’s families are buried there and will have roses planted for them.

Please give your mother as much love as you possibly can during her life, so after she passes, you will have peace along with the grief in knowing you did the best you could to take care of her.

My way of praying does not coincide with the way others may choose to pray. I pray every morning and it covers the entire day for me, my family and my loved ones.  At night, I always pray again. There is no absolute way to pray, but my wish is that you will start to pray and begin to see the many blessings surrounding you every day. Just talk to God as if you are talking to a friend!

Keep smiling, Rosie

P.S. Please feel free to share your life stories with me at rosie.preston@yahoo.com

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