this (visiting) life
I visit my mother at least once a week to find out if she needs anything done around the house. She suffers from arthritis, so my visits usually start with a rundown of all her aches and pains.
I recently noticed how much smaller and frailer she looks. I sometimes wish she could again be that robust woman I remember as a child.
My mother still lives in the family home that she and my father bought 50 years ago, even though it has been 15 years since he passed away. (His landscaping projects survive, but in a state of disrepair.)
For me, every nook and cranny holds memories and, when I visit, my mother and I like to sit on the bench my father built under the mango tree in the back yard and reminisce.
During a recent visit as we sat and sipped our coffees, I asked if she remembered what the state of the house was when they first moved in.
With that question, her eyes lit up with excitement as the memories of the hardships she endured and overcame in those early years flooded back.
“You know, when we came here there was no washing machine, there was only a copper cauldron and I had to fill it up with a bucket from that tap over there,” she said.
“Not only that, but I had to search for firewood around the neighbourhood to heat up the water.
“The house had no proper flooring and in the winter the cold wind would rush in through the floor boards,” she continued, with growing enthusiasm.”
My mother was on a roll now and I listened with amazement.
“And there were many rats back then and snakes; in fact, when we finally took out the old oven, there was a rat’s nest in the door.”
When she had finished, I praised her for making such a great home for us, and said that I didn’t think many people today would have the patience to put up with such primitive conditions or the endurance to spend years making small improvements.
I told her that she and Dad made a home that was filled with wonderful memories.
I used to think of my visits to my mother as a chore because she always had a list of jobs she wanted done, but now I look forward to doing things for her because she did so much more for us by making this house a great home, and always doing her best to make us happy and feel secure.
Looking at her face, beaming with pride, her aches and pains seemed temporarily forgotten as she was transported by her memories back into the young energetic body she once had.
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