I’m sitting here in the dark again, watching his every move in the glow of a silent tv. Finally, I’m starting to recognize the patterns, his habits, what sets him off, and that softness in his forehead when he relaxes and finds a moment of peace. He doesn’t know I’m here and begins talking in his sleep. Struggling to understand as he mumbles, I listen intently for a clue as to what’s going on in his mind. It’s only been 36 hours of constant surveillance, but in truth, I’ve been watching him for decades.
The soft, steady beep of the IV machine is starting to irritate me; it needs to be changed. Pops struggles to sleep peacefully. His mind swims in the confusion of another vivid dream brought on by the evil concoction of Parkinson’s and anesthesia. His body writhes; in his mind, he’s sticking up for the innocent, helping those who made a simple mistake, or chasing down those who have harmed others.
Even in this state, he’s always trying to serve and protect others. His eyes clench tight, and my focus is drawn to a shimmering tear gently falling down his cheek. I know that look of pain on his face. I’ve seen it more times than any father wants his son to see. It’s for those he couldn’t protect and those that have fallen in the line of duty on his watch. Placing my hand on his shoulder, I whisper, “you’re ok Pop; you’re safe. I’ll take it from here.” An ease comes over his face, his body relaxes, and my phone vibrates with another text from my Momma.
Again? It seems like she’s texting me every 20 min, my irritation grows, and then I remember. She’s not making me mad. I need to work on myself and find out what inside me is making me angry, so I call my coach. If the man lying in the hospital bed in front of me is my hero, my Momma is my SUPER-hero.
She’s had both knees replaced, her back fused, cancer battles, cartilage gone in both shoulders, bunions, hearing loss, arthritis, and she had a mini-stroke two weeks ago. Yet all she cares about is how the love of her life is doing. All the shit she’s gone through, she still thinks of others first. Ya, I’m a Momma’s boy, proud of it. For me, Mother’s Day isn’t just one day in May. It’s every dang day of the year.
I wish I had all her strength. Not the strength that comes from muscles, power, or an important title or position. She has this tremendous neverending inner strength to care, push through, overcome, get through, take it on, adjust, and pivot. Her strength is her ability to take what life throws at you, brush it off, and keep thriving. I work on myself with my coaches to get as strong as she is. It’s one of my goals.
I recorded a video last week when I took Pop in for his cancer surgery. The two hugged as they said goodbye with a kiss, and it hit me. They’ve done that for nearly 62 years, and still, some things are the same. The love you see in their eyes and smile, the way they laugh as they say, “I love you.” The pet names they have and the little ways they tease only lovers can understand. When Pop turned away to leave, I saw what I hated seeing on my Momma’s face, fear. I can’t imagine what it was like to feel that, all day, every day, he left the house to go to work.
Today it was the fear of losing him during surgery. At 83, and with his health complications, shit can happen. Back then, it was feeling the bulletproof vest under his uniform. And even though she was proud of the work he did, when shit went wrong, sometimes someone never came home. Even after Pop retired, any late-night call to the house phone would drain the color from her face. So I got rid of that dam thing and got them cell phones. It’s whatever ringtone she wants now; no more house phone ringing.
I also remember that I never saw the fear on her face until Pop turned away. She had the strength never to let him see it, the power it took to endure that alone. She never wanted him to worry about her while he was at work or during his surgery. My Momma is my SUPER-hero and a big reason I take the world on my shoulders to help others. Cause someday I want to be as strong as she is.
I see it all the time with the veterans, law enforcement, first responders, and healthcare workers I have as clients or I meet when speaking. They are so worried about serving and protecting others that they forget the strength and support they have waiting for them at home. Our strengths can come in many forms. No one form is better than another, yet when we share and rely on each other strengths, like my Momma, there’s nothing we can’t get through. Connect with Scott: https://taplink.cc/gateswellness
Happy Mother’s Day, Momma