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Having a mom, being a mom, seeing a mom

My mom, Evelyn Dignam, turned 100 in August. Dad died 27 years ago, and mom moved near our family 25 years ago.

Until age 97 she was independent, could keep up with me and was full of life. A few falls later, we moved her into our home in July of 2019. I've always felt loved and respected by my mom and I've looked up to my mom. That's what is hard about living with a shell of the woman she used to be.

These days her short-term memory is very poor. Questions and conversations are limited and repetitive. This once vital person sits in a chair with the TV on only as noise in the room with her eyes closed and often falling asleep for short periods of time. She fears being alone, so we have caregivers to allow both my husband, James and myself to have freedom to do the what we need to do.

In March we thought we were going to lose her after what seemed to be a small stroke. She experienced hallucinations, talking to ghosts and other things that seem to be a transition from life. However, she rallied from the worst of that and she is clear that she wants to be alive. We have many moments of confusion, things like asking when we are leaving to go home, where does she sleep, etc. It's challenging at best, but the fact that I still have my mom is something that I recognize is a gift. Not many people at my age can say that their mom is still alive. So, Happy Mother's Day, Mom. I'm glad you can hear me say it.

The greatest joys in my life are my two children, Tim and Caitlyn. They are both in their 30s now and certainly very independent of us. I loved the chapter of our lives that included watching them develop and grow. We had many travels, experiences and joys. We had some trying times during the teen years, but we got through that and love thrived.

Children are certainly a gift from God. Seeing them now as adults and knowing they can stand on their own two feet, makes me feel that somehow we did something right. Of course, I had a good example of how to make your children feel love, respected and secure. Supporting the kids when they were hurt, making them own up to and be responsible for mistakes and acknowledging their accomplishments so that home was always a safe place where they could be themselves but accept guidance and consequences were things I learned from my mom.

Now, I have the joy of watching my daughter, Caitlyn, be a mom. I get to see her shower her two little girls with love while setting boundaries and guidelines. She is actually better trained for it. She majored in psychology but later returned to school for her teaching credential. I've seen her in the classroom and was impressed by her ability to maintain control, her caring attitude toward her students and their success overall. But, seeing my daughter as a mom is again a gift that keeps on giving. I find myself impressed by her patience, her clear communication, the way she responds to bad behavior and suggests corrections. I see her creating a home life for her kids where they can feel secure and thrive. It makes me joyous.

Happy Mother's Day to all mothers. May the day bring you many wonderful memories of your mother, being a mother and perhaps seeing a mother.