Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mom, Nurse....and Woman?

I had an amazing conversation with someone yesterday who knew my mom from a different standing than I did. She worked with my mom and she saw the professional side of her. As she began telling me stories about the woman she worked was hard to mesh that professional woman with the woman I called "Mom!" It was especially hard when she told about how if Mom was ever upset about something at work that she would lay it out on the table, clear the air and then never bring it up again. Apparently at work....Mom felt that once something was discussed...then enough had been said on the subject. After need to beat a dead horse....Right?  REALLY???? My mother? The woman who was like a pit bull on crack when I pissed her off? The woman who could give someone the silent treatment for days and who grounded me for LIFE not once or even twice...but THREE separate times? That's right everyone.....I am a 50 year old woman....and by all rights I am still grounded. Where was this "work" mom when I missed curfew? I would hear about curfew violations for days. So this was the other side of Mom.

Funny how as kids we often don't see our parents as humans with actual lives. To us they go from being the smartest people in the world when we are very the dumbest people in the world when we are in our teens.....and then back to the smartest people in the world when we finally get old enough to appreciate all their hard work, sacrifice and life experience. It is then that there comes a day when you realize that 1)Mom's can actually put curses on you and at least one of your off-spring is living proof of that, 2) You were oh so wrong each and every time you said....."I will never say those things to my kids,"....... as you open your mouth and your mother's words fall out, and finally 3) You as a parent can only hope to be half the parent your mom was and because of said aren't even close.

I remember when my mom went back to work after all those years of being a stay at home mom. She had literally devoted her entire life to my brother and I, and quite honestly......I thought that is what all mom's did. It was a total shock when she went back to work and she had a life outside the house with responsibilities and schedules that didn't include us. I was grown but still living at home and my brother was in high school and yet we were like two little kids whose mom forgot to pick them up from daycare. It was culture shock for us to find out that Mom had a life outside of us and that she liked it. In fact....I am pretty sure there were days she would much rather have been at work than at home. Eventually though....I saw some positive changes in my mom. I had always thought she was a Wonder Woman of sorts, but now I saw a quiet confidence in her. She liked what she did (she was a psych nurse) and from all accounts.....she was damn good at it. Going back after so many first she was met with quite a bit of resentment as well as the attitude that she wasn't quite good enough. Mom was a two year, old school RN and she was thrown amongst a bunch of younger degree RN's. It wasn't too long though, before Mom would put her practical experience up against their "book learning" and when push came to shove......Mom's experience won out. After Mom died, a nurse she had worked with took me aside and told me what a great nurse she had been. She said Mom's patient care was above and beyond anyone elses and apparently no one could "take down" or calm a patient like Mom. The nurse went on to tell me that if a patient started to get wound up or go off the little 60+ year old mom would face them head on while all the degree nurses would basically be lined up, hiding behind her. Experience vs. book learning....Go Mom!

Before Mom quit working due to her health, she was a well loved and very well respected nurse by both doctors and other nurses at the hospital. That was not to say she didn't butt heads with them when she felt something was wrong. It was usually over patient care, she was usually right and often she won those battles. I was told that the nurses and hospital staff knew she had their backs and the doctors knew their patients were in good hands with Mom. The patients also loved her. She would go out of her way to make a rough experience as easy as possible for those who found themselves in her care. She would wear bright colored clothing and she had a pair of earrings for just about every day of the year. Seldom would you ever catch her wearing the same pair of earrings twice in the same season. She also preferred to wear her hair grey. I would say "Mom....why don't you color your hair?" By this time her hair was a shimmering grey. She would always say "No!" She kept her hair grey because her patients identified with her as a grandmotherly type figure and thus treated her that way showing her greater respect and often less aggression because of her perceived age. It takes a pretty cold hearted person to hit their grandma...and Mom was counting on that!

When Mom died, most of those she had worked with attended her funeral. She had made some amazing friends in this work life of hers and the church was filled with nurses and doctors who like us....were grieving her loss. It was a time of great sadness for me....but also a time when I learned so much about the woman I had never gotten to really know.

What I find strange is, that as a mom and I talked a lot. We would have conversations that lasted hours and I really thought because of this that I knew my mom. On reflection though, those conversations often were about life when she was young, her family and when I got older.......a lot about ME! Seldom though were those conversations ever about her....her thoughts, her feelings or what made her happy. After she died, I realized that there was so much about her that I never knew. I knew the mom.....her co-workers knew the nurse, but I don't think any of us ever really knew the woman. Even today I will think of something about her and suddenly realize.....I don't have the answers to so many questions. She was a complex woman, who was stubborn to the core. She had a laugh that was contagious....... which always seemed to be a problem in church, but she also hid so much from the world. She had a poker face that revealed nothing and often she refused to show her hand.

So in yesterdays conversation......while I was learning so much new information about my mom and trying desperately to grasp every syllable so that I could ponder it later, she said something that I have heard several times recently. She said....."You look so much like your mom." No one realizes just how that makes me feel. To be honest, I always thought my mom was beautiful and I never saw myself looking like her. In fact growing up......I never really looked like any of my family. I always felt like the odd girl out and I would wonder how my pretty mom could have given birth to such an odd me. About a month ago though, I glanced in the mirror and the reflection staring back caught me off guard. For a second, I didn't see me....I saw my mom. It was the first time I ever saw the resemblance. I won't lie....there were some tears. If what they say is true and I am starting to look like her, then I am both grateful and honored.

I guess yesterday's conversation was fitting, as today is Mother's Day. I want to wish my mother and all the mother's in heaven......a very Happy Mother's Day..... and to all you mom's still giving it your best shot every day here on earth......I wish each and every one of you.....a truly wonderful and happy day. Happy Mother's Day!!!!!!

In Remembrance of Mary Jane Doughtery Jacques


Anonymous said...

Pretty lady. Lovely blog.

Anonymous said...

Your mom was an amazing woman and so are you! I love this blog! Happy Mothers Day!

MarniJ said...

This blog is wonderful and brought tears to my eyes. What a lucky girl you were to have such an amazing influence in your life. Happy Mothers Day to you Lisa.....your Mother is looking down on you smiling with pride!

Lindbro said...

Great blog Lisa. Again, I share so many things in common with you. I, too, never knew the real person who my Mother was. I've learned a great deal from the diaries she kept as an adult and only from a few pages that I've read because I couldn't read more. The one thing I do know is that I was a great disappointment to her. I didn't learn to cook or crochet or embroidery nor did I ever want to wear frilly dresses. My biggest fault was hating every minute of the damnable piano that I was forced to play for 8 years before she finally gave up on me. Nope, I wanted to be outside, on the horse or in the farrowing barn or watching the de-horning process - JUST BE OUTSIDE (like a farm BOY).
Jackie had a cousin who had the same 2-year nurse's training that your Mother had and if my memory serves me well, something happened in her personal life and she wasn't able to finish by a short length of time. Although it cost her promotions, the doctors did not care...they asked for her time and time again as did many patients. She, too, was a wonderful nurse.