I LIKE Karen L Gerber.
Disclaimer... You may notice I am mixing past and present tenses in this blog. This is because we are in the middle of both right now. My mom was diagnosed with terminal uterine cancer in June. It is now January 4, 2018 at 10:30 pm. I am sitting beside her hospital bed listening to her breathe...waiting to hear a change, a shift. It is time soon, the doctor's say...
Almost everybody has a mom. If I were to take a spaceship and fly it high in the sky and look down at all of the mom's in the world as a whole, they don't seem so special. There are so many of them, and you don't really have to be smart or particularly skilled to be one. (hey, it's ok for me to say that because I am a mom as well.)
Zoom back down to earth though and "mom" is a big, powerful, word.
If you love your mom, this word means lots of good things. If you don't like your mom, this word can mean some bad things. If you never knew your mom, it probably can mean anything you want it to mean...as you can make her anything you want her to be.
I have known my mom, though, all my life of course...so I can only speak to that. I have been on both sides of it as well —love and dislike. (I was a teenager after all.) It took me a long while to realize that I can't make her anything I want her to be because, well, she is her own person. She is a major part of my life and in a very real way...which isn't always easy or pretty or loving. But she is human. The human SHE is and not the human I expected her to be. And f*ck me for ever thinking she could be anything else, because boy, she is perfect the way she is.
My mom, before she was a mom, was a child of an interesting couple named Jeannette and Ray VerSprill. As grandparents, which is how I knew them, they were the fun ones. They were interesting. They took my sister and I places. They showed us things. And I always appreciated that.
As parents to my mom, Ray and Jeannette VerSprill didn't do as well. My mother's dad battled with alcoholism sometimes and he was quite intense. My mother's mom was, well, pretty submissive. And both of them were strict.
I am sad to say that I don't know too many details about my mom's childhood. I mean, I know the big moments she has shared. I know that she felt uncomfortable in her skin when she was a very young girl. But I don't really know much else. This is my fault. I never really asked for more than that. I am not a very sentimental person when it comes to things in the past... more on that later.
I do know that she had married her high school sweetheart Joseph Gerber (that would be my dad), and had two very annoying daughters, that would be me and my sister. My parents have been together all this time. 48 years to be exact...would be 49 on March 29th. They have had some ups and downs... and some mountains and valleys...just like all of us. But they Stuck. It. Out. They did...and soon, when their journey ends, it will be a remarkable story to tell. Two flawed people, fumbling with life and love, making it happen somehow. I am so proud of them. I know it wasn't easy sometimes but they did it. And now my dad, who is dichotic in his character traits of both stubborn man and sensitive puddle...will be alone to finish his journey. To write his new story. And that has to take strength...and I respect him for that.
Getting back to Karen as my mother though. I am sitting here realizing that she is pretty f*cking strong. She has gotten through this hellish cancer battle with such grace and beauty...such love for others. She never really wanted to admit her pain. We laugh about how her pain scale...when asked by the doctor what her pain was on a scale from 1 to 10...she was in truth probably about 5 points higher than what she would admit. She just didn't want to worry anyone. Us. She didn't want to worry us. And that is truly her in a nut shell.
When she was told she was going to die, she was worried about us. How we would be able to handle it. I said it before but I need to say it again...she is the glue that holds our very dysfunctional family together. Without her, there is no family. Unless we make it so once we all have settled past our grief.
She did the best she could. And maybe it wasn't always the best that I wanted, but it was HER best. Not mine. And who is to say my way was better than her way? Sometimes my 42 year old self would like to go back and slap my 23 year old self. How f*cking dare I say the things I said to her, and act the way I acted.
And no where no how should I ever hold that against her. She is a beautiful giving soul. A person who actually liked to listen to my mundane daily happenings...and she really listened. And enjoyed it. I mean in today's world...who has time or attention for that nowadays? She did. She does. Not so much now. She is done. Her capacity to listen has been taken over by cancer. She is now ...detached. And that is how it should go.
I sit here in the dark by her beside. And now I AM THE ONE LISTENING. Very intently, with love and care. Finally. It may be only breath and not words, but I will listen as long as she lets me. It's the least I can do. I only wish I had listened sooner.
Karen L. Gerber, I like you yes, but I love you as well.
Goodbye soon, beautiful soul. xoox