The Life Lesson My Mom Left Behind

  • By Ellen Forbus
  • May 10, 2013

Photo courtesy of Ellen Forbus

Ellen and her mom in Dubrovnik, Croatia

My mom and I talked frequently, but we didn't get to visit often, with my crazy work schedule and other activities. Whenever I talked to her, it seemed like she complained. And whenever she came over, it seemed she managed to make me feel inadequate.

Yet she was always there for me.

When my husband and I were having serious marital problems, she was there to listen and even wrangled her way into my trip to Europe last fall. It was supposed to be my healing trip -- my getting away from everything that had torn me apart. She was worried about me going alone. "I suppose you want to go and protect me?" I joked. She said yes. There was no going back on that invite.

Getting her passport was a nightmare. We had to get census records and her high school transcripts. It was there that I saw she had quit school in 10th grade -- not quite the story she gave me about leaving her senior year. I was angry. But I didn’t say a word. It had been years ago, I decided, and I was determined not to dredge up the past.

We had two fabulous weeks in Europe. She tried to talk to everyone who could understand English. For her, this was the trip of her life.

It came just in time.

Three weeks after we came back home, she got sick and went to the hospital. Hurricane Sandy was battering our area with high winds and terrible rain. I made it to the hospital to see her, and all she could do was worry about her car in the parking lot of the local Wal-Mart, where she worked as a greeter. She loved her job and loved seeing all the people. I called my girlfriend and got her car home, then I went back to the hospital.


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