Senses Cultural honors and celebrates our Mothers . We also l honor Fathers, Sisters, Grandparents Aunts who play the same loving roles as Mothers. Sense Cultural is proud to celebrate the mother in all of us—the family, courage, the resiliency, the hard work, the forgiveness, love and peace –that mothers signify.
HAPPY MOTHERS DAY
ALL OF US AT SENSES
Please read author Robert Clark Young tribute to his beloved Mother. Then submit your own story about your Mothers at our website.
My Greatest Advocate
by Robert Clark Young
My mother was the greatest advocate I’ve ever had. I could tell any number of stories from my youth. Here are a few: how she helped me find forty adjectives out of the dictionary in fourth grade, because I was afraid the nun would beat me if I didn’t complete the homework assignment; how she helped me carve my Pinewood Derby race cars, according to my designs, when I was in the Webelos branch of the Boy Scouts, winning me best car design for Pack 961 in 1970 and 1971, and how she kept the cars and the trophies on her living-room mantle forever, and how they are still here, in the room where I am typing these words; how she got me my first paid publication, when I was twenty-two, when she was serving as the dining hostess at the Burger King in Chula Vista, and she met an editor for San Diego Magazine, as well as Jerry G. Bishop, a local talk show personality and owner of a Greek restaurant—and she told both of them that I wanted to be a writer, and she arranged for me to write a profile of the celeb and his restaurant for the magazine.
When my first novel, One of the Guys, was published by HarperCollins in 1999, she used her extensive Avon route to sell copies. The publisher had shipped me fifty promotional hardcovers, which retailed at $24 apiece. My mom sold them all. She not only sold them to her Avon customers, but to all of the salesmen at the dealership where my dad had bought five Buicks since 1976. My mom told the salesmen, “All of you have to buy a copy of my son’s book, or I won’t let my husband buy another car.” They quickly agreed. She sold books to all of the waiters and waitresses at my parents’ favorite restaurants. She sold books to all of my parents’ friends and their families. She sold one to the security guard who stood in the parking lot at my parents’ bank.
When I would visit home, cash money would be waiting. If my mother sold ten copies, she would hand me $240. If she sold twenty, she’d hand me $480.
My New York publicist was astonished when I told him that my mother had quickly sold all fifty copies in the neighborhood and wanted more. He asked me, “How is that possible for an old lady on an Avon route?”
“You don’t know my mom,” I said.
My life changed with a phone call on July 30, 2008. My mother, 500 miles away, had suffered a stroke that permanently garbled her speech. I left my home, my relationship and my friends—“temporarily”—to help my father care for her.
I had no background whatsoever in eldercare or geriatrics. Like so many millions of Americans my age, I was thrust into a life of eldercare. My father and I developed an ad hoc routine for caring for my mom. Every day, for weeks, we did all of this together:
Get her up in the morning—Give her a shower—Get her dressed—Fix her breakfast—Give her medications—Take her to the bathroom—Brush her teeth—Make her bed—Do the laundry—Do the shopping—Fix her lunch—Brush her teeth—Prepare her for her nap—Try to interest her in TV—Wheel her around the neighborhood—Take her to the bathroom—Fix her dinner—Give her more medications—Take her to the bathroom—Brush her teeth—Get her into her pajamas—Put her to bed—Get up in the middle of the night—Take her to the bathroom—Tuck her back into bed—Try to get some sleep of our own.
She required twenty-four-hour supervision, because she liked to get up when she wasn’t being watched and start walking around the house. There was the danger that she might fall or escape from the house and walk around the neighborhood and get struck by a car.
My dad and I had to sleep, of course, so we couldn’t watch her all the time. But we arranged to sleep in shifts, so that I was up most of the night, tending to my mom when she needed me. It also helped that my dad would usually wake up if my mom tried to get out of bed.
After four months of this, my dad, straining from these burdens, but keeping silent about his cares, suffered a stroke even more devastating than my mom’s. He was paralyzed on the right side. Now instead of caring for one infirm parent, I had two of them.
I cared for my mother for a total of 45 months. We lost her in May, 2012. I continue to care at home for my father on a daily basis.
I have lost my greatest advocate. But I feel gratified that when she needed me the most, I was able to be her advocate.
In this month of May, two years since we lost my mom, and on our second Mother’s Day without her, her beloved roses continue to bloom in our yard.