Growing up I was a total daddy’s girl. I the youngest of three and my dad being the baby of his family, just connected more with me because I was the baby of the family. My sister on the other hand was the middle child and always seemed to connect most with my mom who also was the middle child. Growing up my mom and I’s relationship was not the typical close mother daughter relationship. We never talked much, we didn’t do mother daughter things together, and honestly I always joked that my mom loved my sister more than me (totally not true but it was the joke). I was just a free spirit. I wasn’t a homebody like my sister and I would always adventure and do things. When I moved away for 8 months in my early twenties doing a leadership program, I talked to my mom once a week, on Sunday’s for about 5 minutes. That summed up our relationship. I could go weeks without talking to her and sometimes when that happened she would just call to make sure I was alive.
In late 2016 my mom hurt her back. Thinking she just pulled a muscle she started normal treatments on her back. She went to the doctor, they prescribed muscle relaxers, physical therapy and other treatments. A year later nothing changed, in fact it got worse. She started going to get nerve treatments and surgery were put on the table. After all those things, nothing helped. My mom struggled to walk and didn’t understand why. Finally, three years later, the doctors threw out a few words that changed our lives; multiple sclerosis. She was tested but we already knew. It made since why she wasn’t getting better but actually getting worse. When it came back positive I broke down.
My mom was strong and a little stubborn, I couldn’t imagine her having something that would weaken her. Nothing could weaken her. She was the women who when my brother was graduating wanted the old beat up “fixer upper” car my dad bought for $500, the car he was one day going to fix...fixed up, so she pulled it out and started sanding it, forcing my dad to actually take action. She’s the woman who put in our brick patio and pond in our backyard. The woman who decided one day, when we were younger, to quit smoking and never looked back. She was tough as nails, yet now the disease was already showing on her body. Yet, during the next few months as life changed for us, something changed between us. It started a year before when the girls got placed with me, because if ever a time to need your mom, it’s when you become a parent. When the girls left I had more free time and Monday’s were my off day. It ended up being a day needed to take my mom to treatments. I would sit with her (even though she wouldn’t want me to) and just be near her. Eventually, I started calling her more each week, talking to her about what was going on, she would check to make sure I remembered appointments she needed me to bring her to and our bond grew. I felt this protectiveness over my mom. I think she felt the bond too. I no longer felt like the less loved daughter. I finally was getting the “my mom is my best friend” relationship, I really had always wanted. When I moved into my new apartment I knew she might not ever come to see it. It was on the second floor, a private entrance, which meant no elevator. I was so shocked when my dad came over a few weeks after I moved and beside him was my mom. She climbed up all the stairs and said softly to herself “I thought I would come while I could.” I secretly broke down inside and said I could always carry her up the stairs. My mom, strong as nails, still goes to the gym three times a week to help keep her muscles. She fights through the pain so she can enjoy her time with us kids and her grandkids. My mom, my best friend.
MS may have taken so much away from me, from my family, from my mom... but it gave me a chance to build a relationship I’m not sure would have happened other wise. Don’t get me wrong, I hate the disease and I hope for a cure, but I am thankful that through all of it, I was able to have the relationship I always wanted with my mom, my strong, tough as nails, hero.. my mom.