My mother used to love strawberry malts. It was a thrill for me to drop in to see her and surprise her with her favorite refreshment.
In her later years, both my mom and dad lived in a life-care retirement center. Partially due to the stress of my mom’s Alzheimer’s condition, my dad became ill and was unable to care for her anymore. They lived in separate rooms, yet were together as much as they could be. They loved each other so much. Hand-in-hand, those silver-haired lovers would stroll the halls, visiting their friends; passing out love. They were the ‘romantics’ of the retirement center.
When I realized that her condition was worsening, I wrote her a letter of acknowledgment. I told her how much I loved her. I apologized for my orneriness when I was growing up. I told her that she was a great mother and I was proud to be her son. I told her things I had wanted to say for a long time and had been too stubborn to say until I realized she may or may not be in a position to comprehend the love behind the words. It was a detailed letter of love and of completion. My dad told me that she often would spend many hours reading and re-reading that letter.
It saddened me to know that my mom no longer knew I was her son. She would often ask, “Now, what was your name?” and I would proudly reply that my name was Larry and I was her son. She would smile and reach for my hand. I wish I could once again experience that special touch.
On one of my visits, I stopped by the local malt shop and bought her and my father a strawberry malt. I stopped by her room first, re-introduced myself to her, chatted for a few minutes and took the other strawberry malt to my dad’s room.
By the time I returned, she had almost finished the malt. She had laid down on the bed for a rest. She was awake. We both smiled when she saw me come into the room.
Without a word, I pulled a chair close to the bed and reached over to hold her hand. It was a Divine connection. I silently affirmed thoughts about my love for her. In the quiet I could feel the magic of our unconditional love even though I knew she was quite unaware of who was holding her hand. Or was she holding my hand?
After about 10 minutes, I felt her give my hand a tender squeeze. . . three squeezes. They were brief and instantly I knew what she was saying without having to hear any words.
The miracle of unconditional love is nurtured by the power of the Divine and our own imagination.
I couldn’t believe it! Even though she could no longer express her innermost thoughts like she used to, no words were necessary. It was as though she came back for a brief moment!
Many years ago when my father and she were dating, she had invented this very special way of telling my dad, “I love you!” while they were sitting in church. He would softly give her hand two squeezes to say, “Me too!”
I gave her hand two soft squeezes. She turned her head and gave me a loving smile I shall never forget. Her countenance radiated love.
I remembered her expressions of unconditional love for my father, our family, and her countless friends. Her love continues to profoundly influence my life.
Another eight to ten minutes went by. No words were spoken.
Suddenly she turned to me and quietly spoke these words. “It’s important to have someone who loves you.”
I wept. They were tears of joy. I gave her a warm and tender hug, told her how very much I loved her and left.
My mother passed away shortly after that.
Very few words were spoken that day; those she spoke were words of gold. I will always treasure those special moments.
As seen in “Chicken Soup for the Soul”, reprinted here with permission.