Please Look After Mom

Day 11 – The Last Book I Read

So, it seems I got my days all mixed up!  Today is actually Day 11 of my 31 Day Blog Challenge – don’t judge me… lol

Today’s topic is the last book I read.  Let me preface this by saying that I have been an avid reader all my life.  I love fiction, primarily, and human interest stories are my favorite.  I love reading about people and how they live their lives, the choices they make, their relationships – I am fascinated by our humanity.  I have a secondary love of historical fiction.  In school, Literature and History were my best and favorite subjects, so I guess this is no surprise.

In the last year, I have had great trouble reading, however.  I have been working on some things in my life and they have diminished my ability to relax and lose myself in a story.  I am sure it is temporary and so I don’t stress about it.  The very annoying fact that I have hit that magic age where your up-close vision starts to go is another factor.  It’s actually difficult to read some fonts. (uggh)

download (3)Anyway – having said all of that, the last book I read – as in FINISHED – was last year.  But it was one of my top reads ever – its called Please Look After Mom, by Korean author, Kyung-Sook Shin.   The book is a beautiful story about mothers and their role in the family.  It shows that the mother is almost always the center and foundation of the family.  The one who usually tries to teach the children the most important life lessons, the one who is always there, the one who loves, forgives and fights for the family the hardest.  And it talks about how the mother is often the one most taken for granted.  Ignored.  Discounted.  All that love, emotional turmoil and effort for such little reward and recognition…

It is a story that talks about regret.  About realizing far too late who the person really was, why they did the things they did – and all that they did for you.  It is a story that reminds those of us who are blessed enough to have Moms still living, that we should not let that regret flood into our lives – that we should change the way things are before it is too late to change the way things were.

That we should make the time to get to know our Moms.  Ask them questions about their lives, their childhood, their past relationships, their thoughts, their reasons – about their now.  We should spend as much time as possible caring for them, loving on them and talking to them.  Let go of any slights or hurts – what will they matter, really, when they’re gone?   We should make the most of all the time we have left.

 Because when it’s too late – it is, sadly, simply too late…

I wept as I read this poignant story.  It is beautifully written and opens a window into the Korean culture – the food, the streets, the way of life.  It opens a window into the Korean family and, specifically, this one, who was just going about making a life – and forgetting as they went, about Mom.

It makes me think about my own mother.  She lives in Jamaica, so, sadly, I don’t have the luxury of seeing her every day.  She raised seven children – that’s a lot of kids, right?

Like all of us, she has her strengths and her weaknesses as a person.  Like most women – she has her strengths and weaknesses as a mother.   Yet I can tell you unequivocally that I have seen the definition of ‘a mother’s love’ in my Mom.  She has shown us what it is to love, sacrifice for, dream for, hope for,  keep making an effort for, input in, build up, encourage and support her children.  And she has never given up on any of us.

When the chips have been down for any of us, she has always been there.   She may be sad, she may feel angry, she may feel fear, she may feel frustrated… She may be tough on us sometimes.  She may be any manner or mix of things at any one time.  But I have seen her do things for us and give us things that have proven a love so deep, so complete, so self-sacrificing, that it leaves me speechless.

At times, when she is being her most difficult -scratch that – independent ;-), I have been annoyed with her, frustrated by her, resentful of her even…  She has hurt my feelings.  She has been tough on me.

But she loves me…  She loves me truly.  No matter what she has said to me on any day – I can honestly say I have never doubted her love for me.

When my sister was in a tragic car accident that left her with disabilities, my parents took her in from her husband, who couldn’t handle it.  My sister was difficult to care for and to live with.  But they did it.  When my Dad passed away, my Mom made it clear that despite her own age, fears, limitations and reduced ability to do everything, she was never going to put my sister in a home.  She determined that she would care for her until she died.  And she did.

It was hard on her.  It was really difficult for her.  But she did it.  She wanted to do it.  She would do it for any of us, she says.  And I know it’s true.

Now, she is older.  She is showing more signs of that old dragon – age.  She is still very independent, and I use that word to describe her atitude more than her means, lol. But she has slowed down a lot.  She is less clear about facts and details.  She may not remember my name immediately, some days – but she can usually tell me what day of the week each of my six siblings and I were born on.  She doesn’t hear so well anymore, so talking on the phone, something she used to LOVE, is something that is a little frustrating for her – and for me, to be honest, because she can’t hear what I’m saying.

You know, I made the decision to move to the United States for a better life.  A better opportunity.  And living here has been wonderful to and for me.  But I miss my mother.

She was born and raised in Jamaica and has lived there her whole life.  She wants to die there.  It is her home.  She has made it clear she doesn’t want to live here.

So it means I am not there day to day.  Not there month to month.   To see her.  Talk to her.  Hear her stories and her thoughts. To take care of her. To laugh with her on good days and to hold her hand on bad days.

We, my brothers, sister and I, we will suffer one day for this ‘better life’.   We do our best, don’t get me wrong.  We do our best to care for her, love on her, talk to her and provide the best we can for her – from a distance, mostly.  We can’t be there all the time.  And it is what children do – as they should.  Grow up, move out, make a life for themselves and their own families.  I think any parent wants that for their child.

But we will suffer one day for making our lives and finding our way – while ‘forgetting’ about our Mom.

I recommend this book as an amazing read.  

And  I really recommend the lesson as one we all want to learn…

Now, before it is too late….

A good woman is hard to find, and worth far more than diamonds. Her husband trusts her without reserve, and never has reason to regret it. Never spiteful, she treats him generously all her life long. She shops around for the best yarns and cottons, and enjoys knitting and sewing. She’s like a trading ship that sails to faraway places and brings back exotic surprises. She’s up before dawn, preparing breakfast for her family and organizing her day. She looks over a field and buys it, then, with money she’s put aside, plants a garden. First thing in the morning, she dresses for work, rolls up her sleeves, eager to get started. She senses the worth of her work, is in no hurry to call it quits for the day. She’s skilled in the crafts of home and hearth, diligent in homemaking. She’s quick to assist anyone in need, reaches out to help the poor. She doesn’t worry about her family when it snows; their winter clothes are all mended and ready to wear. She makes her own clothing, and dresses in colorful linens and silks. Her husband is greatly respected when he deliberates with the city fathers. She designs gowns and sells them, brings the sweaters she knits to the dress shops. Her clothes are well-made and elegant, and she always faces tomorrow with a smile. When she speaks she has something worthwhile to say, and she always says it kindly. She keeps an eye on everyone in her household, and keeps them all busy and productive. Her children respect and bless her; her husband joins in with words of praise: “Many women have done wonderful things, but you’ve outclassed them all!” Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades. The woman to be admired and praised is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-God. Give her everything she deserves! Festoon her life with praises!

Proverbs 31: 26-31 MSG

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