Like a little child who knows the mother will always be there for her when she wakes up every morning, I had thought she was never going to go anywhere. Sure she could fall sick but die? My mother? No, my brain could not comprehend this reality. I am a proud mother to a beautiful and a very active and adventurous a year and a half old boy. Although I have nothing to be proud of if I compare my parenting skills to that of my mother, I am however proud of the fact that he loves me so there must be something good that I am doing. Or maybe I am blessed by my mothers prayers to put it simply.
Nobody comes prepared with how to raise a child. I didn't either. It's not one of those things they teach you at college in
Pakistan or a course you can pay for to learn and master like driving or cooking. Motherhood is unique in its own way as Jessica Lange states: “The natural state of motherhood is unselfishness. When you become a mother you are no longer the center of your own universe. You relinquish that position to your children.”
If I recall all the sacrifices my mother has made for her children throughout her life, it makes me wonder if I will ever be like that with my own children: selfless, calm and gentle. Right now, if my son, although clearly warned a hundred times, does something he is not supposed to do, I lose it. I scold him and my voice tends to gain a decibel or two, nothing that I am proud of certainly. I remember not once when I was young and would go for the fifth or sixth time to the bathroom to vomit or for another bout of diarrhea would my mother yell or scold me. Rather, she would pat my back and tell me it is going to be alright. Just the touch of her hand would be soothing in the night when I would toss and turn in fever. I assume all mothers are alike. They have in them to be loving and nurturing but the amount of love my mother showered on me is immeasurable.
However, will it be enough to last a lifetime? I don't mean to sound ungrateful but I would have been happier getting a daily dose of my mother's love. Who wouldn't want affection and love and those warm hugs daily? All around me I see mothers adoring their children men and women well into their 30s and 40s and here I am: a motherless person longing for my mother's love. I don't look at them with sheer jealousy or hatred or an evil eye but it just signifies more and more how I will never be embraced by mother again in this world nor taste her amazingly cooked food.
Oliver Wendell Holmes' words are a comfort to my soul: “Youth fades; love droops; the leaves of friendship fall. A mother's secret love outlives them all.”
My mother had three children including me and she delivered them naturally sans the epidurals and other forms of anesthesia to subdue the pain. From what I read about natural childbirth, it is extremely painful. I, on the other hand, had a cesarean so I cannot imagine the pain she must have gone through to give birth to each one of us. I don't remember anything a little after the anesthesiologist put a mask on me in the operation theater to prepare me for the c-section. When I woke up I clearly remembered my mother was holding my hand throughout and sitting on a chair nearby although she had passed away some eight months back. Maybe I was too drowsy from the effects of anesthesia or maybe I missed my mother a lot at that time or maybe she was the last one on my mind before I went to sleep.‟ Whatever the case maybe, I know the strength and endurance my mother had, I could never be at par with it. She was a woman made of iron steel. Many tried to break her but not once did she let them have the supreme joy of destroying her inner self - strong, beautiful and warm.
I was the first one in the family to be informed about my mother's death through a phone call. I was away with my husband to a village. I remember it being a normal day bright and sunny. One would think death would bring with it thunder and lightning, a sort of a warning for the bad news to follow. But no, it was a normal bright day in April. When I heard about her death, I thought I didn't hear the person correctly. Surely, he would be mistaken. Surely, it was another
woman not my 55 year old mother. I had left my mother in a state of good health and only a couple days had passed, how could she have died? I could not think or answer that person who called me. I could only utter a helpless cry which my husband heard from the room next door. Never have I felt so lost or unsure about what to do or how to think.
Francis Thompson describes rightly with these words: “The desolation and terror of, for the first time, realizing that the mother can lose you, or you her, and your own abysmal loneliness and helplessness without her.”
The drive back to the city from the village was a quiet one. Thousand thoughts overlapped my mind. I felt numb although I was in my senses. How does one face a mother who has died? What do you say to a body that once belonged to my mother? Or do you not say anything and just sit still, tears pouring down your eyes? I remember when I reached my mother's home, her body was laying on a stand-like bed in our living room. I did not glance at her or look at all. Simply put, I was scared. Of my own mother! Of a woman who had given birth to me. Of a woman who had prayed day and night for my health. Of a woman I always remembered with a beautiful and inviting smile. Of a woman whose hugs could make all the pain go away.
Ann Taylor's words resonate in my mind: “Who ran to help me when I fell, and would some pretty story tell, or kiss
the place to make it well? My mother.”
I feel sorry for my child who has not known his grandmother's love and affection. Although my mother's pictures are up on the refrigerator in the kitchen and I often point to my son where his grandmother's picture is but he can't comprehend. Maybe he's too young or maybe he just wants to see her in real and feel her for him to know that there was a person who loved him even when he was not born yet. My mother was the first one I told when I found out I was expecting. The joy and happiness on her face upon hearing the news is something I will always cherish.
Truly, Lin Yutang has appropriately described the feelings of a mother: “Of all the rights of a woman,the greatest is to be a mother.”
This blog post was written by Sana Rehan Butt, a past professor of the prestigious Aitchison College in Lahore, Pakistan. Sana lost her mother in a tragic accident a couple of years ago. Her mother's loving memory lives on forever in the words above.