Best Mother’s Day Gift

There is no better Mother’s Day gift than to have healthy children. This year both our children
are healthy and believe you me, I don’t take it for granted.

When Angela and Jim were small, they scrawled large, bold signatures across the bottom of cards Roger helped them buy and presented them with warm, moist kisses. Later they drew homemade cards and I received coupons to exchange for household chores. These gifts morphed into flowers, perfume and other lovely gifts. The last year Angela had a brother who was able to join her in expensive gifts, they teamed up to give Roger and me a train trip, complete with a delicious meal and entertainment.

After Jim got schizo-affective disorder, he gave me things like candy bars.

“Sorry, Mom, this is all I have,” he offered apologetically, with a shy smile. He was learning to live a frugal life.

“It’s good dark chocolate,” I exclaimed, hugging him. His arms hung at his sides and his body felt limp. “And your best gift is that you are healthy again.” Jim was working, living in a nice home with men who all had serious mental illnesses and shared the rent. They were his friends in his new life.

It didn’t last. After Jim developed a dangerous side effect from his life-changing medicine, doctors could find nothing as effective to replace it. Jim used illicit drugs and fell in with a crack-using girlfriend. He was kicked out of the nice home.

After that I was lucky to receive a card on Mother’s Day. Smiles were scarce but relapses weren’t. Now I often had a snarly son who berated me for the least little thing. Days and sometime weeks went by when we didn’t see him, engendering a sense of relief but also bone-aching dread. Years went by with deeper heartache than any mother should have to endure. Although Angela was flourishing and gave us a loveable granddaughter and son-in-law, it’s true that no mother is happier than her least happy child.

This year is different. After a serious suicide attempt, Jim was allowed to go back on the effective drug, clozapine. He’s sober. He broke up with the destructive girlfriend and sees other friends again. Friends with whom he has healthy relationships. He’s handling things with his mental health workers.

Our son has an apartment but is at our house a lot. When I had surgery last summer, Jim brought me ice packs and beverages and watched movies with me. When I had a low day, he sat with me, saying nothing, just being with me until I felt better. Every day he seems to be more empathetic and insightful.

Jim is working part-time and looking for a second job so he can buy a car. We have long conversations, mostly about topics besides his mental illness. My heart sings.

What more could any mother want for Mother’s Day?