Seven and a half years ago, my mother lost her battle with COPD. She had been sick all of my adult life, managing to hang on through my wedding and pregnancy. After refusing my offer to postpone, she passed away on the evening we held Liam’s blessing.
The transition of being someone whose mother was sick, whose mother had just passed, and someone who lost their mother years ago was a difficult one. Liam doesn’t remember anything about his nana. I make myself remember the sound of her voice.
In a recent interview, Prince William discussed his mother, stating that he was fairly certain that his late mother would have been a grandmother who drove him nuts, the type who would stop by at bathtime, get the kids wired, and leave. I love that he admitted that he didn’t always look at his mother with rose-colored glasses; deceased parents aren’t always perfect. It makes me wonder about the relationship Liam would have had with my mom. She loved kids. I know Liam would have loved her. Being 1,500 miles away, they wouldn’t see each other as often as they’d like, but I know she would’ve talked to him as much as they could. When she was sick, she used to listen to him take bottles, happy and content just to hear the slurping noise.
Whenever I have to tell someone that my mom passed away when Liam was four months old, I always get a sympathetic, “poor baby” look. There are always three follow-up questions:
“How old was she?” (58)
“Was she sick?” (Yes, she had COPD and was on dialysis.)
“Did she smoke?”
When I confirm this, there is always a knowing sigh, almost in relief, as if to say “that explains everything.”
Yes, my mom smoked. Yes, she knew it was bad for her. Yes, she tried to quit, once managing to go almost a year without a cigarette. She struggled with depression, most of which went under-diagnosed and mostly untreated. After her death, I learned that things about her childhood that she never disclosed, reminding me that she was much stronger than I realized. She was the person who would do anything for anyone. She was the mom all of my friends when to when they had issues with their own mothers or boyfriends. While she was sometimes simple and naive, she found the best in everyone.
There are many debates about healthcare costs and how much the companies should pay for people who do not take care of themselves. I totally understand the need for that argument. That being said the fact that my mom smoked doesn’t make losing her any easier for those who knew and loved her.