Monday, February 23, 2015

The Whole is Greater than the Sum of its Parts

About a month ago, my mom took a serious tumble. She shattered her shoulder, necessitating shoulder replacement surgery and the long convalescence that comes with it. I could write about this from so many perspectives -- how spotless she keeps her home (she fell while cleaning), how self-sufficient she's always been, how much I (selfishly) wish she and my dad lived close by so I didn't feel so helpless on those rare occasions where my stubbornly independent parents need my help.

But what I want to write about is the love story.

As I said, my mom is very self-sufficient. Growing up, I don't think I noticed this so much. While it didn't escape my attention that my she was equally capable of both nurturing us and ridding our old house of bats, I just figured that's what moms did. (Now that I'm a mom, I feel quite differently about that latter responsibility). My mom could -- and did -- handle everything that came her way, whether it was making dinner or wallpapering the bathroom.
My dad was hands-on, too, but not so much when it came to things like cooking and cleaning. I still tease him about the time he made breakfast for us at the beach and, unused to an electric range (we had a gas stove at home), ended up with pancakes that weren't exactly what we'd find at Perkins.

Married in 1960, my parents fell (mostly) into traditional gender roles, yet they have always been the yin to one another's yang. They know when to push and when to compromise, and they've spent more than fifty years together refining this dance.

When my dad had heart surgery, my mom's superwoman capabilities rose to new levels. And now that my mom has hit this road block, my dad has donned the cape. He does laundry. He cooks. He insisted (with a success my sister and I have failed to achieve) on hiring a cleaning lady so that the house would meet Mom's high standards, and she wouldn't sap the energy she needed to recuperate fretting about the state of the floors.

None of this stops Mom from trying to do things one-handed, of course. And as much as I shake my head, I'm relieved. My mom has never been a quitter, and I'd be worried if she were content to simply spend the day recuperating in her chair, even if that is exactly what she's supposed to be doing.

When I called one day last week, she and my dad were making dinner together in their small condo kitchen. Yin and yang, each complementing the other in a way few couples manage to do for five years, let alone 55, with equal parts humor and determination.

Just last week, I (finally!) received Superwoman's okay to come see her in her mere mortal state.

Silly Mom. Doesn't she know she'll always be Superwoman to me?

Along with the yin to my dad's yang.


  1. So glad to find out that your mom has finally given clearance for you to visit!

  2. LOL! Yes, as long as the sun is shining, the temps are above freezing and I'm not driving alone. Once a mom....

  3. Well, doesn't that sound familiar to your own feelings on Valentine'sDay. ;)

  4. The apple didn't fall very far from the tree!