I didn’t know the last time I talked to my Mom that it would be the last time.
I can remember everything we talked about because, after she died, I found a note tucked in her calendar – her “brain” she used to call it. The note was a list of things to talk to me about, so she wouldn’t forget.
Now I won’t forget either.
She asked me about our recent trip to New Jersey.
It had been awful! Pouring rain and stuck in traffic for HOURS with a 4 month old baby girl that wanted to be nursed every one hundred and twenty minutes…
…on the dot.
Hard to do with the baby safely strapped into the back seat facing away from the parents trying so hard to soothe her crying. Desperate, I finally jumped into the back seat…
…did I mention we were STOPPED IN TRAFFIC?
I nursed her while the windows steamed up because of the pouring rain. Sweat and tears were running down my face and from under my arms and my huge swollen, aching breasts, because it was a sweltering, rainy day in July and we were…
…did I mention?
Mom told me she was glad that I was nursing my daughter and “hanging in there” as it had been a painful, awkward process at first…not at all like the beautiful, perfectly coiffed, slender, woman on the cover of Modern Maternity magazine. She was holding her nursing child gently in her arms, beaming with that glow of motherly ‘bonding’.
Yet another thing we sweaty, straggly, tired, real women can feel like we are failing at.
It’s “natural” – so why does it hurt? Why doesn’t the baby “get” it? Why does it take practice? Why does it involve stacks of pillows, lying awkwardly on your side, or sitting awkwardly in a chair with arms at just the right height. Why does it require being stared at in the Women’s room of the department store because it seems vaguely, (or completely), disgusting to those who have never done it or seen it.
Which seemed to be most of the American women that I encountered.
My Mom said that when she had her babies, the doctor said that formula was “better than mother’s milk. Scientifically formulated to provide all the nutrition that baby needs.” She said that in her day, she just went to sleep and when she woke up, she had a beautiful new baby.
In those first days when she was there helping me with her new granddaughter, she would look at me nursing my daughter and there was a wistful look on her face…a regret…maybe a feeling that “Science” had let her down. In spite of my complaints and discomfort, I had to agree with her.
The last time I talked with my Mom, I didn’t know it would be the last time. I thank God that when she had come to the end of her list of things to talk about, she said,
“I guess that’s all I have to say…but I don’t want to hang up just yet.”
I’m thankful, because on that day, instead of giving her the list of stuff I had to go do, and because her granddaughter was sleeping peacefully, and because I hadn’t talked to her for a few days, and because I loved her so much, I said,
“then let’s not hang up yet.”
I don’t remember what we talked about then.
It wasn’t on her list for me to find…
…two weeks later…
…after she died.
I just remember that I will be grateful all my life, that I sat down and let that conversation flow between us, that I felt that close connection with my Mom who was so far away.
She gave me a parting gift without me knowing it…
…and I hope I gave her one as well…
…we didn’t know.