Above is my Uncle Paul and my mother with my older brother and myself squeezed in between. All I know about their relationship is that they didn't grow up knowing each other, he found out about and located her when they were adults. I only know this bit because I heard the two of them talking when I was about 11 or 12.
I posted this old photo because today is the day that my younger brother will meet with the neurologist and sign papers to have her taken off life support.
For all the trouble we have had between us there are some things I have to give my mother credit for.
She made some poor choices in her life but she also made some good choices.
She chose to divorce my father and do the best she could to remove us kids from a bad situation.
She chose several years later to marry my dad and take us to Arkansas. This was one of the best decisions she ever made for us.
I can honestly say that because of my mother I know how to cook, clean and balance a check book. I also know how to make a dollar stretch when times are tough.
I went to beauty school after high school because when I was 12 my mother started urging me to go, mostly because I was cutting and coloring her hair when I was 12. Even though I haven't used that skill to support my family it has came in handy over the years ( hence my own daughters have good childhood photos )
Over the course of my childhood I can not count the number of people that have staid with us. Some for long periods, sime for short stents until they had enough money to get back out on their own.
Anyone who ever staid with us may have been required to work and contribute financially but no one ever had to live on the street or go without food as long as my mother had a home. No matter what your relationship was, you could fall out with her on Monday and move in on Tuesday so long as you were willing to pay rent and do some manual labor.
Over the years she became very involved in volunteering at food banks and clothing programs through her church. I never knew what drove her in this aspect, but I know that doing this has affected my brother ( Kelly ). He currently volunteeres at a food bank and will be working there this morning before going to sign the papers at the hospital.
And she chose to adopt two disabled children. No matter what her reasoning was I love those two kids to bits. When they were little people thought they were my children. Even my first husband questioned me a lot because he thought I had the kids at a young age so my parents had adopted them. This was not the case but my sibling bond with both of them was strong, especially with my sister. After about 15 years of not seeing each other, earlier this week when I went to see them it was like I had hugged sister just the day before.
Earlier this week I read a blog where this person was questioning various decisions they had made over the years. Not regretting her choices but more wondering if her choices had of been different how would that have affected her life today.
Knowing the writer of that blog I have no doubt that the choices she made were good ones. I see it in her life, her marriage and her children. You can't expect anyone to make perfect choices all of the time. But when someone puts their heart into the life they build and the family they raise, the good choices will reflect in their lives. That is not to say their won't be bumps along the way or corrections to be made later, but as a whole, making the right choices in life is a difficult task and if we manage to make the right choices 90% of the time and our life reflects that, then there is no need to second guess yourself.
It is very much the same with my brother making decisions about my mother's care, the siblings that we love so much and the life that is still ahead of us.
Ten years ago I didn't trust my brother to make a half way decent choice about what underware to put on let alone the fait of our mother's medical care or the future of our siblings. But it seems that a few years ago he made a choice that changed his life in the best way possible. I know it wasn't easy and I know he had his reasons for the bad choices he made in the past.
We discussed these bad choices a lot recently. He evenunderstood why I didn't want him to go to last summer's family reunion. Even though he was clean at the time I had no way of knowing that. I had heard he was clean so many times when it was simply not true. He talked about how He would tell you on he was clean while he was litterally getting high at the moment he was saying it. But I find it very important to recognize how far one good choice ( to get clean ) can go to outweigh years of bad choices.
Which brings me back to my mother. She may have made poor choices during her life, but she also made some good choices as well. And today, on the day that my brother will make the decision and sign the papers that will end our mother's suffering, I want to focus on the good decisions and hard choices that the made in her life.