Things I Love About Visiting My Mom

Image by Ron Leishman

I’m in my early 50’s now and I live about 2 hours away from my Mom in another city & I just got back from visiting her for 4 wonderful days.

Visiting her about 4–6 times a year now as she approaches the octogenarian age range is something I’m trying to make sure I don’t ever take for granted.

While she is ageing, she is still able, healthy & I’m glad she can read this & appreciate how much I love her. So I wanted to write this to make sure that she fully understands all of the things I love about visiting her from my viewpoint.

I think I’m a good son, but I do feel like as Mom gets older I should spend more time closer to her. Help her out more. But she’s an independent self-sufficient person for the most part & always has been. I mostly enjoy visiting her because it always feels like a 2, 3 or 4-day warm hug. And you never know how many of those you might have left together.

I know that when I arrive she will have the spare room / TV room futon & bed sheets made up for me — or for anyone who visits her for that matter. She’ll have the feather pillows taken out of the closet for me too. The futon is always made up with sturdy solid dark blue sheets with red & white trim that were made so well that she inherited them from her brother, my uncle who lived in America & who died in 1972. These are strong, well-made sheets. I do feel like I should make up the bed for myself when I get there, but I love her all the more for doing it special for me.

To me, my personal hotel room is always just right. Like a hotel, I manage to have my own bathroom in this apartment as well. My big, white fluffy towel is washed and waiting for me there. Lots of little soaps & shampoos she’s confiscated from other hotels in her travels sit there in an attractive little basket. Mom’s special touches for MY hotel suite!

I arrive now at Mom’s with a sturdy collapsible wagon full of my own travel stuff each time I visit to help my bad knees. It was a great gift courtesy of my sister & her hubby. It is packed with a duffle bag, laptop backpack, CPAP breathing machine bag, my dog’s stuff (blankets, food, toys, pee pads), maybe bags of gifts if it is near Christmas or birthdays & even a bag of laundry she told me to bring ‘cuz my own washer is dead right now. That’s the kind of Mom you want, right? That extra touch. “Bring your laundry”. She’s always thinking of ways to help me out.

Greeting Mom is such a treat. It’s a 2-step process because along with me is my 5-pound Yorkshire terrier bundle of love, Shana.

Shana in the passenger seat carrier basket en route to Mom’s!

She invariably gets the first cuddle & kisses from Mom as I take off my shoes & jacket — as it should be. Cute, adorable Shana is the star wherever we go — also, as it should be. I cannot tell you how much I love the interactions between Shana & my Mom during our visits. The cute, wonderful joy and happiness I see in Mom — and Shana — are priceless.

As I said, Shana is the star attraction where ever I go with her anyway these days. I have long ago resigned myself to my rightful position of chauffeur / valet / butler / bodyguard. And if I show up somewhere without Shana, the reception is rarely the same joy as when Shana walks in first. The question is usually: “Hey? Where’s Shana?” But I’ve accepted my place the pecking order. Besides, Shana IS very, very cute and I get to spend the most time with her after all.

For me, the welcome greeting where I’m wrapping my arms fully & tightly around my Mom is like a… Well it’s what you always wanted it to feel like. And I’m sure I hug her a little longer each time.

Mom is usually always wearing her slippers. Sometimes nice, big, fluffy, furry gift-given or store-bought warm ones, but more often than not, ones she once knitted for herself. The long lost gift of knitting she learned from her mother, my dear grandmother who I loved so much as a child.

I like that she wears warm flannel pajamas most of the morning — or all day if she doesn’t have to go out — with a comfortable, soft open sweater. You want your Mom to always be comfortable in her retirement years. She’s pretty comfy like that.

Mom has a wonderful, warm condo apartment that is very well-kept, clean & stylish with some new furniture, wonderful antique items & very original art & family photos throughout.

Mom is a very smart cookie, but is fully willing to admit she needs help with new technology. If it takes too long for someone to fix her computer-related issue, she manages or works around it. No problem. For now. But she is definitely one old-school person who has jumped into the new technology fearlessly with an i-Phone, i-Pad & laptop among other things. The “How do I do this…” questions to her 3 adult children & now her grown nephews come soon after on different issues right after we present her with the new technology item — often as a gift. I think my sister is the primary tech-support person Mom calls but we all get our share. When I visit, she often has a few current bothersome technology questions ready for me to help her with once I’ve been properly fed and taken care of for about a day. It’s a good trade-off or quid-pro-quo as far as I can see.

I like to find some really interesting Art-house or film-festival-award-winning small independent movies to take her to or watch on the Apple TV now or one of our laptops. Maybe even on DVD. I think she really enjoys that. Plus I know she hates raunchy, violent or noisy movies. This time we saw a few at home and one in the theatre. I never went to movies much with her since way back when we all went as a family as young kids. But it is still a very enjoyable thing we do together now. Somehow, even as a full grown adult, if an intimate or sex scene pops up in a movie I still get that “Whoa Jeez!” reaction or worry in my head ‘cuz, after all, I’m with MY MOM fercrissakes!

Mom has strong opinions about many things, but she can be persuaded to think otherwise if presented with the right information. For now, she eats only organic if at all possible. Her digestion has been problematic for a while and it seems to help. Pesticides and GMO’s are the enemy — as are added chemicals to foods. They’re gonna kill us all. She’s probably right, but I have difficulty trying to convince her that all of the people working at the chemical making companies are just trying to kill us. However, I imagine if I had to spend a year in her shoes with her now many painful & debilitating conditions, I may have the exact same opinions.

I love her passion for righteous issues. The same passion that made her such a devoted and beloved social worker by her clients for most of her working life. These clients she had who were placed in nursing homes just loved my Mom. These folks had very little money but always rewarded my mother at Christmastime with a gift they likely could not afford. For me that says volumes about who my Mom is.

One thing I’m really happy about is that even though Mom can wear herself out easily due to one of her various health conditions and may need to stay home and quiet in bed more than normal some days, she will NOT let that beat her. She is as active in her retirement as anyone is. She has lunch dates going into the next month with a whole variety of friends, family & old acquaintances.

Mom will still drive up into the local higher ski-hill areas north of the city to find a free, natural clean water-filling station location set-up to fill up her glass water jugs for any uses like coffee, soups, ice cubes, mixing with frozen juice or just drinking water. City water doesn’t sit well with her stomach and has too many chemicals for her liking. The funny thing is these fancy glass jugs she uses look like old-school moonshine jugs. When these jugs are full of water, they definitely look like pure, clear, moonshine.

Mom sees her doctors, dentist and whoever else with regularity, goes to the local community centre hot-water therapy pool for stretching lessons, goes for a hot-stone therapeutic massage once a month, mixes & bottles her own wine in her recycled wine bottles at a local wine-making business and hauls it home to her storage locker.

I love being there to “help” Mom haul stuff from the trunk of her car in the parking garage to the downstairs locker area or back up the elevator to the apartment if she needs it. Though, living on her own she manages pretty well without me.

Mom’s Grocery Cart: Mom has one of the most beat-up, barely surviving, hanger-wire, collapsible 2-wheel, sidewalk grocery carts & I think she found it in the garbage/recycling area of her building. That way she can use it and still leave it out in the open behind her car in the basement parking area and because it was already essentially a freebie from the trash heap, who’s gonna steal it, right? Exactly. Very smart! That beat up, piece of weak thin wire & probably twist-ties on two wobbly plastic wheels has served her VERY well for quite a while now.

As we all know, everything your Mom makes for you still tastes better than anything you could make for yourself, right? When I’m visiting for a few days, we don’t get up too early in the mornings, but if I get up first, she’ll hear me anyway and come out of her room to the kitchen to start the coffee before I can and shoo me outside with my poor little Shana who needs to go for a walk and do her morning business. Once in a blue moon I’ll get to make the coffee. As you would expect from this love letter here, the coffee my Mom makes is the best tasting coffee in the world. Probably because I am sitting in the sunlit living room area drinking the coffee with my Mom. The coffee is also accompanied by the best tasting organic orange juice (even from frozen concentrate!). At least to me, in that setting, there is nothing that tastes better.

When it’s sunny, and we sit there with our juice & coffee, chatting about what’s new and basically gossiping, Shana always finds a warm sunny place to lay down inside or out on the balcony.

Shana Finds her Morning Ray of Sunshine

Soon, she will find her way up onto Mom’s loveseat with her and either burrows into the super soft blanket bunched up on the loveseat after turning 3 times and maybe digging like she’s tunneling underground a bit. But eventually Shana will spend some time right on Mom’s lap — for maximum awareness to Mom that she needs to be petted. And she will let out a little yelp or 2 if you dare stop petting her. That’s my little princess.

Shana in her favourite spot — on Mom’s lap.

But if there is one moment or memory that I love more than anything, it is enjoying the time she spends adoring and interacting with my dear dog, Shana. Mom’s voice goes up like we do when speaking to young children or pets & she just has a ball. If I could bottle the happiness I see & feel when that happens, I would do it in a heartbeat. If there is any gift I would love to give more of to my Mom, that would be it. Time together with Shana.

Mom is very generous. She taught that as a firm principle in all of us. She will always try to pay a restaurant bill if we are out as a family or if it’s just the 2 of us. One of the things about Mom I love is that if we are going out for breakfast or brunch, A: She will bring a small bottle of real maple syrup in her purse in case we have french toast or pancakes. Mostly because she has firmly decided that table syrup just won’t do. B: Any bacon that is served with her meal must be crispy bacon. Not near crispy, but CRISPY or it’s going back. We as her kids try to reinforce that fact with the server so they fully understand. Because if the bacon is not cooked to the point of crumbling into it’s molecular origins & then backed off jussst a bit, it will likely be sent back to the kitchen for that last cooking blast.

She loves and treats her children & grandchildren generously and fairly — especially now as her grand kids are young working men who need to learn to pay their own way a bit more. My brother & sister live in the same city as Mom. If their families are out of town, she will gladly come by their houses to check up on the cat, dog, water the plants & flowers and stay over if need be to keep an eye on the nephews when they were younger. It’s a joy for her to do these things. Infrequently, I have needed to pay for a large expense and Mom has always offered to help me pay for it, and I in turn set up repayments with some interest involved — because if I’m going to need to borrow money, why not give my business to the Bank of Mom, right?

Supper at Mom’s is always special in little ways. We eat at the antique dining room table we’ve had in the family forever. Casual to formal-looking place-mats and cotton napkins adorn the table with a nice tablecloth. Often an embroidered or lace table cloth on top of a linen or cotton one. Fancy but not too fancy. Mom also loves her candles and we will always eat by candle-light. I don’t drink much wine myself but a nice glass of Mom’s tasty wine always goes well with supper. It just feels right.

Inevitably, packing all my stuff back up in my wagon to head back home is quite the job these days. I’m pretty sure I always leave something behind somewhere, and it will give Mom a good excuse to email me the same day or following day to see how I managed to get home and ask if I needed the thing I forgot.

But before leaving Mom’s to head home, she ALWAYS sends me back with a care package of home made food. No questions. If we have some leftover pizza from the greatest-local-pizza-place-on-the-face-of-the-earth, she wraps it up for me. Her homemade muffins? I get a bunch. Homemade chicken broth or her pasta sauce frozen in mason jars? I get those too. It’s just wonderful. After Christmas, I’ll get a variety tin full of homemade fudge — maple & chocolate, cinnamon brown sugar pastries called Nun’s farts (directly from the French-Canadian treat, literally “Pètes des sœurs”), homemade mincemeat tarts & homemade butter tarts with pecans. It is just a buffet of the most delicious hand-made treats from my Mom. AND sometimes many of these treats make it all the way back home to my place! The 2-hour drive back with that much temptation nearby is too much to handle. It’s always much smarter if I put them in the trunk.

Hugging Mom a few more seconds, heck, a full minute more before I get in the car to go home has never been a more important moment in time to me since the last time I hugged her before I left.

Then I wave to her through whichever car window is facing her as I back out & turn to go, smile as I drive away & say a silent “I love you, Mom.”

I feel a bit sad to go, of course, but I do look forward to my next visit and relive these wonderful experiences again.

Thanks Mom.

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