I'M GONNA CREAM YOUR ONIONS
A Mother to the Power of Three
We called her Mom-Mom-Mom, or Mom³.
Mabel (don't you just love that name?) was my husband's grandmother, and his generation called her Mom-Mom. Naturally, she became Mom-Mom-Mom or Mom³ to our children.
Mom³ passed away this week, and our whole family is grieving the loss. Mother's Day will be more difficult this year. I actually have to return the card I bought to send to her. We "lost" her before we could sign and mail it.
We Lost Her
Truthfully, we lost Mom³ a while ago. She was almost ninety-seven years old, and she started to experience the effects of dementia.
Dementia is a cruel thief. Dementia steals a part of you and your family that you can never get back. You can't chase the thief down, punish him, and recover your valuable memories.
You can't even be compensated for your losses. You just have to deal with the new reality, and as one of my insightful Storytellers once told me, you have to learn how to live in her world. It's painful for everyone.
What She Forgot
Mom³ forgot some of our names. She forgot where we lived. She forgot the answer to the last question she asked.
She forgot where she had been and where her room was located. She actually believed the nurses kept bringing her back to the wrong room. Nothing and no one could convince her.
Although she knew she liked certain foods, she forgot what she had for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
You have to learn to live in her world.
- Linda Angle
What Could She Remember?
When we'd see Mom³, she could still remember some facts. She remembered my husband, and she called him by his childhood name, Ricky—no one else calls him Ricky these days.
She remembered that she "wanted that little boy." That was a key reason why my mother-in-law married my husband's father when my husband was a toddler.
She remembered playing cards—Bridge, Spite and Malice, and Trash—with my husband, and she remembered the required "work weekends" at her house.
She was a teacher for part of her life, so when prompted, Mom³ remembered the book report that she and Pop³ forced my husband to write before they would take him to the amusement park during summer vacation.
And she remembered her "threat" to get little Ricky to obey: I'm gonna cream your onions!
Whenever I heard her say that phrase to my children, she said it with a smile and a laugh. They would giggle and run. They didn't even know what their onions were, but they knew they didn't want them creamed.
Most importantly, Mom³ remembered the love she had for little Ricky. And that's exactly what my husband needed her to remember.
If you could only remember one thing, wouldn't remembering your love for someone be a blessing?
If you could only remember one thing,
wouldn't remembering your love for someone be a blessing?
- Michelle Beckman
Before It Was Too Late
We live about four hundred miles from Mom³'s retirement community, and we don't have the opportunity to visit often. By the grace of God's plan, my husband and my daughter were in the area for an annual event over the weekend.
Even though I was in another state, I could hear Mom³ saying, "You come see me one more time, Ricky, or I'm gonna cream your onions!"
So Ricky took a detour and said his goodbyes before it was too late. Unfortunately, Mom³ was technically unresponsive, but he still felt that she knew he was there and who he was. The next day she passed away.
Should I Have Selected a Different Photo?
As I sat down to write this memorial post, I knew I had to choose a photo for the header of the page. I could have selected a formal photo when Mom³ was primped and ready to pose. I could have used a photo from her younger, more vibrant days— but I didn't.
I chose a photo of Mom³ in her curlers playing card with two of her "boys" in my kitchen. I chose a second photo of her making great-grandmother-goo-goo sounds to connect with my infant daughter during our annual beach vacation.
That's how I'll always remember Mom³ . . . as a mom to the power of three who loved her children, her grandchildren, and her great-grandchildren more than life itself. We lost a library and a Legacy of Love this week. Even though she couldn't remember me, I will remember her, and she will be missed.
Share your stories often. Save your life story forever. You won't regret it.
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