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Seriously – I Cried Today

Seriously – I Cried Today

by Gina Valley

No, this isn’t a funny post.  I know that, as my youngest daughter says, “Mom, you tell the jokes,” so you expect funny when you stop by.  I’m honored to get to make you laugh, but I’m not going to do that today.

I had a different post planned for today.  One that I hope will make you laugh.Humor Funny Parenting Moms Dads Kids children Family Life love caring sad crying Parkinson’s’ Disease loss pajamas Christmas Mother  But, I decided to go with this one instead, partly because this is where my heart is right now, and partly because everyone has rough days.

Everyone.

I think it’s a good thing for all of us to remember.

Today was a rough day for me.

My mom has Parkinson’s disease.  She was diagnosed with it about four years ago.  It made my heart ache, but I didn’t cry.

Right away it stole her smooth gait, but everything else seemed unchanged for quite some time.  Slowly it has continued to erode her movement.  She walks with a shuffle.  She moves slowly.  She no longer greets me at the airport gate.  My dad waits alone.  That makes me sad, but it didn’t make me cry.

It sucks away her physical strength. She goes to bed earlier.  She sleeps later.  She naps daily. Her solitary walks around the lake they live on are a thing of the past.  When she told me she couldn’t go around her lake anymore it made me sad, but it didn’t make me cry.

During our last visit to their home it was too much for her to cook the big family dinners she loves to cook.  She let me do most of the cooking for the first time ever. That made me sad, but I didn’t cry.

During their recent visit to my home my dad shared with me that my mom had told him that she didn’t think she could beat the Parkinson’s.  At first she thought that with nutrition and exercise she could beat it.  But, she’d come to realize she could not.  My heart squished. I was so sad, but I didn’t cry.

When we played board games she had a little trouble following them this last time.  So, we made sure the lights were extra bright and all the pieces faced mom to make it easier for her to track what was going on.  She had me replace her as scorekeeper, too.  I was sad, but I didn’t cry.

I’m not a big crier.  Never have been.

But, today I cried.

My mom called.  An unexpected Tuesday call.  We talk on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and either Saturday or Sunday.  But, today she called.  Just to chat, she said.  Just to see how I was doing, she said.  Just to tell me how much she appreciated my visiting my great uncle, she said.

But, that’s not why she called.

My parents have 18 grandchildren.  But, many more kids, especially teens, in their small community call them “Grandpa and Grandma.”  Their home and hearts are now, as they have always been, open to anyone who needs family.

Every year since I was a child my mom has made flannel pajamas for each of her kids for Christmas.  She continued the tradition as our family grewHumor Funny Parenting Moms Dads Kids children Family Life love caring sad crying Parkinson’s’ Disease loss pajamas Christmas Mother by making them for all of her grandchildren.  Last year she made more than 25 pairs of pajamas for her grandchildren and for kids in their community who have come to know my parents as the only grandparents they have.

It’s a significant tradition in our family.  Every year we give our kids the opportunity to open one gift on Christmas Eve and they always choose the one from their grandparents because they know it’s their pajamas.  My children wake up every Christmas morning wrapped in that work of love my mom spends the better part of the year producing.

That tradition means the world to my kids.  It means the world to me.  It means the world to my mom.

And, that’s why my mom called.

She didn’t say so, but I know that’s why she called.

The last thing she said, before we exchanged “I love you’s” came out in a whisper.  She said softly, “Gina, I don’t think I can make the pajamas this year.”

Squish. I wonder if she heard my heart break.

I held it together until we were off the phone.  Then, I cried. And cried.  And cried.

I wasn’t crying over flannel pajamas or for my kids or for myself.  What killed me was that this disease has now taken a piece of my mom that she so treasured.  An irreplaceable piece.

We can wait while she walks slower so that she’s not left behind.

We can adjust our game time so she can still play.

We can cook whatever she wants however she wants it done.

But, we can’t give her back her ability to make something that made her eyes sparkle.

This terrible disease killed a little piece of my mom today.

And, that’s why I’m crying.

-gina

Has anything broken your heart? Leave me a comment and let’s talk about it.

17 Responses
  • Sheila
    June 13, 2012

    I am so sorry to hear this. You just made me cry a little. I am a sucker for tradition. My mother’s specialty was cooking mainly Sunday meals but just supper in general and I loved her cooking. She was always wanting to try new recipes and whether I liked them or not I always told her it was great. She is getting frailer too with multiple things wrong with her and she is living on borrowed time. I have missed the meals very much and the few times she does manage to make a meal (and its usually meager) I always say how much I enjoy it.

    • gina
      June 14, 2012

      Traditions seem to be so much more significant as we grow up. It’s so easy to forget as we grow up our parents are growing old.
      How wonderful that you lift up your mom!
      Thank you for sharing.

  • Daddy Knows Less
    June 13, 2012

    Crying with you.

    • gina
      June 14, 2012

      Thank you.

  • Diane
    June 13, 2012

    I am so sorry this disease has taken such a special piece away from your mom today. My heart aches with you.

    Take care, Diane

    • gina
      June 14, 2012

      Thank you, Diane.
      It’s definitely left a hole in my heart.

  • Crazed in the Kitchen
    June 13, 2012

    I’m sorry you all are going through this…

    • gina
      June 14, 2012

      Thank you. It’s tough.

  • Gina, I am so sorry that you are going through this. I know that none of the words I could give you would give you comfort, but just know that you are not alone. It is really hard watching our parents get old and sick.

    Are you a seamstress? How about you start a new tradition and make your Mom a pair of pajamas? Or you and your siblings take turns and make the pajamas each year for the family?

    • gina
      June 14, 2012

      Thank you, Jules. It really is something of a comfort to know that everyone goes through things like this, and we aren’t really alone in it.

      Although I was very much a seamstress up through high school, I haven’t done much since my kids started showing up and wanting food and clean clothes and the like 🙂 None of my siblings ever learned how to sew.

      I am considering flying up and helping her get all the details (shopping, measuring, cutting) done so she could just do the sewing. But, I need to think about it. In some ways it might be less painful for her to simply stop, rather than to have it drag out.

  • Kim Gane
    June 14, 2012

    Simply, tearfully beautiful. I’m so sorry.

    • Kim Gane
      June 14, 2012

      I wonder if you could rally other sewers in your mom’s area to honor her by making flannel pajamas for foster children. The whole family could get involved, and your mom could sit back with pride and see the evidence of the impact she’s had on the lives of your family and others, and be proud of what she started rather than feeling only the loss . I wish you all well.

      • gina
        June 15, 2012

        Thank you for your kind thoughts, Kim. I appreciated them.
        We haven’t quite decided the best way to deal with it, but yours is a great idea.
        It’s going to take some time to figure out what to do. I’ll keep you posted. Thanks again!

  • jetts31
    June 14, 2012

    I didn’t cry today either…until I read this post.

    • gina
      June 15, 2012

      Thank you, Jimmy.

  • Melissa Cleaver
    June 14, 2012

    I’m so sorry Gina for what you, your mom and your family is going through. This post was so touching and well-written that my eyes welled up with tears for you. As someone who has lost both sets of grandparents to Alzheimer’s, I know what you mean as you watch something slowly rob your loved ones of who they are and transform them into what they are not. My thoughts and prayers are definitely with you and yours today.

  • gina
    June 15, 2012

    Thank you, Melissa. I appreciate your kind thoughts and your compliment. It is so hard to watch. My dad’s mom also suffered from Parkinson’s. Having watched her deterioration makes it extra hard to watch my mom’s. I shudder to think what goes through my mom’s mind as she remembers caring for her mother-in-law while she slowly faded. I truly appreciate your thoughts and prayers!