Girl's Get Together
I know you struggled with alcoholism and depression when we were kids. I will never forget those dark times. I can’t forget the words that were said. When I was growing up, I wished sometimes that I had a different mother. When you quit drinking, you became an amazing mom. At the age of 22, I felt that you finally became a mother to all of us.
I remember visiting you at the rehabilitation center. All eight of us were with you. You asked us to forgive you. I nodded, but I didn't forgive you. Not at that time anyway. After a while I forgave you, but I never told you that. After you quit drinking, you would tell us how proud you were of us. You told us that you wanted to make up for lost time. You wanted all of us, me, you and all of my sisters to get together at least twice a year since we lived in different States. We ended up naming our vacations, "Girls Get Together"
I cherished the "Girls Get Together" we had. I love sitting in a hot tub, cooking or playing bingo with you and my sisters. You would try and give me money after I lost playing bingo even though you didn't have much. I would refuse of course because I was financially ok. I remember one time after bingo when you insisted to give me money. Later I found a twenty-dollar bill in my coat pocket that I knew I didn't have before. I know you gave it to me. You were a woman who had so little but gave so much.
The most thing that I loved about our "Girls Get together", was how we would stay up all night talking. We would talk about anything. I loved your stories mom about how you and dad met, our family trips, and how great our holidays together. I was so focused on the bad things when I was growing up that I had forgotten about the good times. One of my childhood memories of you when you were cooking fried chicken and making potato salad while listening to Elvis. When the song "You Ain't Nothin' but a Hound Dog" played, you took my hand and started dancing with me. When I hear that song today mom, it makes me smile because I would think of that moment and how happy I was dancing with you. You would smile whenever you listened to his music. You would tell us how he was your favorite singer and saw him in concert.
I remember when the doctor told you that you had COPD. You quit smoking then, but the doctor told you it was too late. The damage to your lungs was irreversible. You had to be on inhalers and steroids for a long time. It made me sad when you struggled to breathe.
I cried the day you called us from the hospital because you fell. You said you were walking to the bathroom and couldn't feel your legs. The doctor said the steroids you were taking made your bones weak and that you had sustained a compression fracture. He said that you would never be able to walk again because you severed your spinal cord in your low back. You told him he was wrong and that you would walk again.
I felt it was hopeless that you would walk because when you were in the nursing home, and they had to Hoyer lift you to the chair or put you on a bedpan when you needed to urinate. You insisted to the staff and the doctor at the nursing home to have them try to get you to walk. The doctor finally agreed to have you work with physical therapy and occupational therapy. After 5 months you were able to walk with a walker. I was so proud of you because you did prove that doctor wrong. You were the strongest woman I had ever known
I was so happy when you were able to get your own apartment and live alone in an assisted living facility. You were so happy. All of us girls were happy for you. However, your lungs never really improved. Each time you caught a cold, your lungs became worse. I remember the day you said to me that you didn't understand why your lungs couldn't heal even though you had quit smoking five years before.
I cried when you decided to receive hospice care. I felt better after speaking with one of my sisters who was a hospice nurse because I knew that they could make you comfortable with the time you had left in your life. The nurses gave you morphine when you were struggling to breath. I could tell it made you feel better and less anxious.
The last time I spent with you was the summer of 2014. I wondered if it was our last "Girls Get Together". We all went to Minnesota and spent time at a lake. I woke up one morning on that vacation and saw you reading a book by the lake. I saw you sitting there, and you looked so peaceful. I knew you loved to read. I thought to myself, "You are not dying, you are enjoying the rest of your life."
We stayed at that lake for an entire week. I have had many summer vacations. I went to the Bahamas, Mexico and to Florida, but I have to admit, this was the best summer vacation that I ever had. The last night we were there, we made a fire by the lake. We were singing and I looked over at you. You were smiling and had a tear in your eye. You looked so happy. I wonder mom if you knew that this would be the last time you saw us. Did you know that it would be our last "Girls Get Together."? When we were driving home after our vacation, you made us promise that after you died that me and my sisters would still have our "Girls Get Together" without you.
Mom, I want to let you know that we kept our promise. We all get together at least twice a year. We play bingo together and sit in hot tubs. We cook together and at times we will cook fried chicken and make potato salad while listening to Elvis. My favorite is us staying up at night talking. Most of our stories are about you. I feel like when me and my sisters get together that you are still with us.
I told you before you died how much I loved you, but I never told you that I forgive you. I know now that alcoholism is a disease that can be treated. I am thankful for the staff at the rehab center that helped you quit drinking. I am grateful for the support that they provided throughout your life. After you quit drinking alcohol, you became the most wonderful person. It was then, you became an amazing mom.
The most important thing that I want to say is this: I FORGIVE YOU AND I LOVE YOU MOM.
I wrote a poem about our last days together. I entered this poem into the Summer Sonnet. I didn't win, but I know you would love it and would be proud.
Memories of you will last forever,
you laughed even though you were very ill.
The summer of twenty-fourteen I treasure,
that moment in time I wished could stay still.
While singing together I saw you smile
Your beautiful big blue eyes cried a tear.
I wished your days on earth could be awhile,
but you left the end of summer that year.
The summer of twenty-fourteen my mother died.
Those cherished memories no one can take.
It was the summer her eight children cried,
It was the summer we had by the lake.
Our loving kind hearted mom is not gone,
because in her children's hearts, she lives on.
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