Love … What is love?
Love is to love someone for who they are, who they were, and who they will be.
My 92 year old mom wants to get married again!
And, if that’s not enough of a shocker, the guy she wants to marry is … me!
Yes, you heard it right. I repeat, my 92 year old mom wants to marry yours truly.
When I tuck her in bed at night, she will hug me with all her might and say, “You are the bestest (her word, and I love it) boy in the whole wide world! I just love you! I love you so much. I just really love you! I am going to be so happy when I wake up in the morning and see you. It’s going to be fun! I want to be with you forever. I sure do want to marry you! ”
My answer is always the same. I tell her I want to be with her forever, too.
The part I keep to myself is that I don’t want to do it the way she is imagining.
The other part I keep to myself is the expression that appears on my face when this topic comes up. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry or both.
Am I looking at mom or am I looking at the future? Who doesn’t want everlasting love?
I know how much she has, does and will always love me. Her thoughts are unfiltered, spontaneous and are the purest expressions of love you could imagine. To suggest to her otherwise would be worst thing anyone could do. Mom deserves her dignity and protecting it is my responsibility.
And, I must admit, I admire her determination.
She has always been my role model, mentor, friend, parent, champion, cheerleader, conscience, leader … inspiration. And, dementia has not taken that which is deep within her away. She may not know how to verbally communicate it, but her feelings run deep and are loud and clear. We have always been a mutual admiration society. We always will be.
In the morning when I wake her up, she hugs me. I ask if she had some great dreams and, you guessed it, she says all of her dreams are about me.
Who wouldn’t want to wake up someone who says, “You are kind, you know everything, you know what you are doing, you know where you are going, you make everybody feel good, your never, ever, ever say dirty words, you are funny and you know how to tell jokes.”
When I take her to or pick her up from adult day care, she tells anybody within earshot that I am her man and that we are going to get married. “Ain’t that right,” she’ll ask me and all I know to say is, “we’ll see, mom … we’ll see.”
So, this particular morning was no exception. I had been out of town for the weekend doing a keynote speech and workshop on leadership. Whenever I come back from being out of town, mom is beside herself to see me. When she hugs me, she won’t let go and all she does is tell me how much she loves me, that I am her man (or boy) and that she will never, ever, ever let me go, again.
If truth be told, I get just as excited about seeing her every morning and especially after being gone for a few days. I adore feeling her warmth and getting caught up in her excitement and love. I hug back and think to myself, I never, ever, ever want to let go of moments like this.
That’s when it comes. Right when I am caught in her spell. At the top of her voice, mom exclaims, “I just want to marry you, I want you to be mine. You are my man and I want you to be with me forever. That’s it!”
I honestly feel like she is going to pull an engagement ring out of her pocket and slip it on my finger. Thank goodness, that hasn’t happened! Somehow the idea of eating Raisin Bran and slurping orange juice through a straw captures mom’s attention and takes the focus and heat off of me … at least for the time being.
I wish she could just marry the Raisin Bran and orange juice and be done with it, but then she would be a 92 year old bigamist, and considering what she would be wed to, it would probably go all the way to the Supreme Court!
By now I have learned that I cannot predict when or how the subject of marriage pops up. Recently, mom told me she wanted to marry me and be with me forever. After I told her (again) I loved her and wanted to be with her forever, too, she added a new twist.
“Great!” she said. “You can just tell that Fred Laughon to go jump in a lake! I want to be with you.”
Fred Laughon was mom’s husband and my father. Dad passed away in 2002. He never had great hearing, so I hope for dad’s sake, his spirit is hard of hearing, too. And, in case you are wondering about their relationship … it was the best! That’s a book, TV series, and movie franchise all to itself, but that’s another story for another time.
I must tell you, I am a happily married man, with an incredible sidekick, work partner and constant companion. She is beautiful from the inside out. Melissa, if you are reading this, believe me, you are in no danger of being jilted!
Mom loves Melissa, too. But, every now and then she will describe her as, “your girl,” meaning mine. And, when mom does this, I know what will follow. She tells me that she is just going to pack up and leave, because she knows Melissa and I just want to be alone and not be bothered with her being around.
If that doesn’t sound like teenage jealousy, I don’t know what does. The Supremes sang it best, “Love, love, love, makes you do foolish things”.
The really foolish part is that I take the bait every time and explain that Melissa and I want to be with her and her alone. That she is the center of our universe, etc., when all I really need to do is suggest some vanilla pudding or a chocolate cookie. Oh well, life’s lessons don’t always come easy.
I can just hear me saying in situations like this, “Hey mom, why don’t you marry the vanilla pudding and throw in a chocolate cookie to boot! Yeah, if you love them, why don’t you marry them?”
Today, on the early morning drive to her adult daycare, I was totally caught off guard when mom squeezed my arm and told me she didn’t think it would be a good idea for us to get married.
As I looked up in the sky to silently say thank you, thank you, thank you, a million times thank you to any and everybody that might be listening, mom calmly continued, “I just don’t want any more children.”
All I could muster was, “Mom, would you love a chocolate cookie?” I always keep a few in the car for treats.
Mom didn’t hear me because she was counting headlights on cars as they whizzed past and was already up to eleven.