Some children's books offer remarkable wisdom within the beautifully illustrated pages. My own collection is vast, yet only one book spoke to me when trying to do what I've never done before, and in the midst of among the most heartbreaking moment of my life.
I chose, The Velveteen Rabbit. In brief, I take from this book the thoughts that when one is sincerely loved, they are beautiful. Secondly, that circumstances change. And lastly, Love always carries on.
I include an excerpt from this beautiful book, followed by my now endless thoughts of my Mom.
"Real isn't how you are made," said The Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you when a child loves you for a long long time, not just to play with, but really loves you, then you become Real."
"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.
"Sometimes, " said The Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."
"Does it happen all at once," said The Skin Horse." "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand. "
"I suppose you are Real, said The Rabbit." And then he wished he had not said it, for though The Skin Horse might be sensitive. But The Skin Horse only smiled.
"The boys' Uncle made me Real," he said. "That was a great many years ago. But once you are Real, you can't become unreal again. It lasts always."
The day Mom had the stroke, I received a call from her apartment manager, and made a mad dash to Abington Hospital. I was terrified. I had no idea what would see, feel...I was, terrified.
Mom looked especially small. She was just staring towards the window. I came closer, and as usual, put my face right in front of her own, and said, Gimme those lips!
She smiled a very fearful half smile, and kissed me. At that point, she still was not aware she'd a stroke. She did have a car accident.
Her doctor came in and explained to us that she suffered a hemorrhagic stroke. He did not tell her what she could or could not do , nor any prognosis. I believe that was wise.
On our way to Abramson for rehabilitation, I reminded her that she's no stranger to working out. I reminded her that like herself, I enjoyed a lifetime of daily exercise. Just this time, Mom, you'll be working harder than ever before. Her response? I'm ready! She was always such a brave, little fighter.
My thoughts immediately jumped back to Michelle and I seated on the floor in front of our black and white tv. Each week, just after Mom entered the room, she turned the channel to Jack Lalaine. I'll bet many women remember calisthenics with Jack. Michelle and I always tried to do exactly what Mom was doing, lifting our little legs, finding situps so hard, and wondering if we would ever be able to exercise as well as our Mom! I spent a lifetime admiring and following in my Mother's footsteps about taking care of myself and always staying active, to this day.
It was in Abramson, at least five days a week, Mom and I began our odyssey of discovering how far she could push her body, as well as an odyssey of learning about each other. Finally, opening the secrets Mom always held so deep. Lifelong fears.
Each day we grew ever closer, exploring memories with our family all together. She shared such loving stories of how she met Dad on a blind date. How Dad took her from a difficult life to one filled with humor and always Love. Love.
After a while, I convinced Mom to try some activities. Naturally her preference was mahjong! Unfortunately, mahjong was offered infrequently. She admitted she believed she couldn't do any other activities. She believed she had no talent!! I set out to prove her wrong.
The day we both explored flower arranging, her creation was so absolutely gorgeous that staff placed it on the center table in the main living room!! I was so excited. I asked her how she felt about her creation, her newfound talent for flower arranging. She looked at me, her blue eyes opened so wide, and with an enormous tilted smile on her proud, beautiful face. She was finally proud of herself, at 90 years of age!!
Mom chose our next activity. A writing course. It was clear she chose the activity for me! I was so moved. Such a selfless act!
However, just a short time into the group, Mom realized she had much to add. She began sharing stories which made her peers laugh and remember. Wow! Mom felt proud. She found a voice. I was beaming!!
I will always be grateful and filled with joy for the very special and deeply loving and insightful experience with my Mom. I'll also never forget something else she said to me.
We found ourselves frequently laughing and remembering together. We worked out previous difficulties. Mom said something to me I'll hold close to my heart forever and ever.
"Deb, you are so much like Daddy. You are your Father's daughter. " I shared with Mom that I have never received a better compliment in my entire life!
My Mom became "Real." And since she is loved by a "child" she will live forever. I wish my Mother never had to suffer such a devastating stroke. Yet, even she agreed, it was the stroke that helped to further open her heart, her mind, her inner strength, and dispel lifelong fears.
It's just that now, how do I accept only such beautiful and enriching memories with my dearest Mother I never before imagined possible, to the depth we achieved together? I love you, Mom. Your "little twinnies"will always love. I miss you, Daddy, and My Michelle.