A memory or reflection on my relationship with my mom.
My parents had seven children in what could only be considered two different sets. My eldest sisters were born, each roughly two years apart until number five came along. My only brother was born eight years after number five and I, three years after him. Because my brother and I were so much younger, our relationship with our parents was entirely opposite from what our sisters knew. My dad and brother were always together - hunting, fishing, camping, and doing all the outdoor things. My mom and I were the best of friends. We did everything together and there wasn't a single secret I had from her... even in my teens.
As my teen years began winding down, my dad was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. He suffered for more than a decade and my mom stood by him through it all. When he couldn't handle stairs, they left their home of thirty plus years for a rancher. When he got a cut that turned to sepsis that led to a three month stay in the hospital, she was with him every single day.
On their fiftieth wedding anniversary, instead of celebrating, they were at the hospital. Dad had pneumonia among other complications caused by the RA. Exactly one week after their anniversary, he was gone and for the first time in fifty years, Mom was without the one person she'd always had at her side.
In a rare event, every single one of my siblings was in attendance at my dad's funeral - as it should have been. But whenever my mom became overwhelmed she would hold my hand. The night Dad died, she fell asleep holding my hand. When the hospital called to say he was gone, she was holding my hand. It didn't matter that all of her children were with her, she needed me to be there so she could hold my hand.
The day of Dad's funeral, as the procession began, she clutched onto my hand so tightly that I could feel her pulse and the tremors of her sorrow. Each of my sisters moved to walk with Mom, but she refused to let go of my hand, even to the point of being rude and shunting a sister to the side. By the time the service was over, her iron-clad grip had loosened but the indentation of her every finger remained in the back of my hand and the pattern from her wedding ring was etched into my fingers.
Twenty-two years after Dad passed, I was visiting with Mom at her assisted living home and, through the entire visit, she held my hand... so very tightly, once again to the point of near rudeness. When I left her that day, I looked down at my hand and there, in stark relief, was every one of her fingerprints indenting the back of my hand and her wedding ring pattern was once more etched into my fingers. She left this world two months later to hold my dad's hand once again.