Monday, May 15, 2006

Love You Forever

She wheeled her mom into the doctor's waiting room. Her mom was so skinny, so frail. She appeared to be sleeping but responded to her daughter. She asked her daughter if they were outside. No, ma, we're at the doctor. The daughter spoke to her gently, chatting about the weather and asking how she was feeling. It struck me, as I sat looking on, that she addressed her interchangeably as mother and baby. The scene was frighteningly pathetic. It made me shudder inside.

Robert Munsch and Sheila McGraw wrote a children's book called "Love You Forever". It was recommended to me once by a friend and I bought it without reading it through - something I hardly ever do. I read it once with Mordechai (he was just two or three years old) and then I hid it away on a high shelf. It starts off with mom taking care of baby, soothing him in a rocking chair chanting that she'll love him forever. It ends with him rocking her in that same chair, chanting the same words. A frightening thought for an adult, let alone for a child, I thought.

The daughter moved her mother's wheelchair a bit closer and leaned in close to her. Ma, do you know what today is? Ma, today is Mother's Day. She gave her mother a gentle hug and whispered softly, Happy Mother's Day, Ma.

13 comments:

Ezzie said...

Someone gave us that book after we had Elianna - we knew of it before, and we've always loved the message...

Ayelet said...

What? That you'll be old one day and may be unable to care for yourself, so you're counting on her to step in and care for you? He should have stopped at the end of the first chant.

adina said...

It's so funny, because i've seen the book several times, and i always liked it. Never thought about the scary message it sends to a young child, but you definitely have a point.

Ezzie said...

No, that no matter what the situation, the love is always there.

"I love you forever,
I like you for always,
As long as I'm living,
My baby you'll be."

People DO get old, and they DO get sick. Why not teach the child that despite all that, the important things in life don't change?

[Now, if you want to complain about 'rock-a-bye baby'... :) ]

Ezzie said...

I thought your story actually was a perfect example of this.

It's sad that the mother is old and frail - but that's not the point. The point is the love the daughter has for her, the care, even in her "pathetic" state. It's a great lesson in what love is.

Anonymous said...

I would love to get hold of that book Ayelet, so the next time we are together can u bring it please?
I am older in age than most of the blog commenters, and I would like to express some of my sentiments on this subject.
I thank gd that I have parents who are in there late 70's to love, cherish and care for. It gives me a surge of pleasure to get a sweater, hot tea or do an errand for them. The stories of memories of yesteryear never get boring, (i fake it)and the time together is very special. The frequent and daily calls to share tidbits are looked forward to. gd continue to give me strength to keep on doing...L, mema

Ayelet said...

Ezzie: All that is true, but my point is that, at the end of the book "my baby you'll be" becomes the parent. Seeing that it is a children's book, that is a scary thought. Children think of their parents as immortal and invincible. You and I know this isn't true but, nevertheless, the idea is important for a child's sense of security in a world that seems so large and scary without their parents' hands holding their own. They want to know that mom and dad will always be there to take care of them. I especially object to the picture at the end. Kids "read" the pictures of stories very carefully.

Mema: You're lucky to have parents that are independent. The really heartbreaking cases are when the parent's body is failing and the parent relies on others for daily living - getting around, eating, bathing, etc. or when the parent no longer recognizes family members and lashes out because of senility or dementia, G-d forbid.

Shoshi and Daniel said...

Ayelet I think I am more moved by your story of a beautiful example of timeless love from your story than I was from Love You Forever, which always made me cry. I think that the ability of the woman in your story to maintain her elderly and ill mother's status as parent, despite needing care in what was evident as a reversal of roles as far as parent-child tasks are concerned, was very special. Thank you for passing it on.

Ezzie said...

I hear you, Ayelet - but that's not what happens. He says, "My Mommy you'll be" - no matter what the condition, she's still the mommy, just as in your story.

After that, he goes to his baby and sings the song to her - continuing the chain of love from generation to generation.

margalit said...

I HATE that book, Ayelet. I think it's exceptionally creepy. But I know that some folks love it and find it incredibly moving. To me, it just seems way to weird to have a son rocking his mom.

But I love the way you put that book into another context to make it more palatible. Good going.

Ayelet said...

Margalit - Creepy is right! Thanks for the thumbs up :)

Ayelet said...

Oh, margalit - nice makeover! But where am I? Not with the Mommies, not with the Jews - don't I fit in somewhere?

Anonymous said...

Margalit,, What exactly is creepy & weird, "THE SON ROCKING HIS MOM", is it because it's the son, is the rocking creepy, or is the elderly mom creepy? Is it not wierd, if you are rocking a baby, or if its the daughter doing the rocking or better maybe the nurse or home attendant? It is a sign of maturity and realism to face up to the facts of life: You either live long and hopefully healthy (though not usually till the final day) or you die younger (than old). During that formidable time, daily needs have to be addressed, by who is the question!! This book that is being appraised may have to wait till the children are older, and the parent more mature to relay it with wisdom and security. Children want and need to know what the future may behold, and what role they can play in it.