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What a character!

April 14, 2009 - Jennifer Brookens
I've always thought I had a good relationship with my mother, but this past year I feel like I've been getting to know her all over again. And that's not necessarily a bad thing.

We are approaching the two-year mark of when we lost my father to a horrible mix of leukemia and severe dementia. The diseases started kicking in shortly after I graduated from college and got married. So for most of my life, I've seen my mother as a caregiver; for me and then for my father. Caring for my dad was very taxing on her physically and emotionally. His death was almost bittersweet; he died with the best care my mom could give him with the privacy and dignity we know he wanted.

Ironically, the day after his passing my mother already looked 10 years younger. But it wasn't until just last fall that my mother truly started to come into her own. She started taking those vacations she always wanted. A friend from down the block introduced her to the Fairmont Film Society crowd, and she had an instant group of friends. The days of having dinner parties for friends, seeing concerts and plays, tenative dating (!) and just enjoying life are now hers.

In fact, these days I almost need to book an appointment to see her. But I don't knock it. I remember she used to tell me about how people would refer to her as "Jennifer's mother." Now, I am the one that is referred to as "Joan's daughter." A lot of those references are followed up with, "Wow! Your mom is such a character! She was just dancing up a storm the other night..." That character had been locked away inside my mom for so long, and I don't think it's going to be put away anytime soon. It's actually getting its own showcase on the local soap "As The Corn Grows." What a character, indeed!

Go for it, Mom!


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