Politics, Moderate



More Grateful for Mom This Mother's Day

Jessica Johnson on

Mother's Day this year is extra special because for the first time in over two decades, I am spending it with my mom in person. In May, I have usually continued to work on summer projects after the end of spring semester, and since my mom's birthday is in June, I would just fly home to Athens, Georgia, for an extended Mother's Day celebration.

Mom is in Columbus, Ohio, with me and has been here since January. Like most Southerners who have been to this region of the Midwest, she thinks the weather is always chilly compared to warmer temperatures she is used to back home. But Mom is not visiting me on a vacation of leisure. Her stay is of necessity as I have now stepped into a primary caregiver role.

My mother is in her 80s, so I knew this day would eventually come; however, since she has always been fiercely independent, I figured she had several more years before she would need me in this capacity.

Mom's independence is something that she always took pride in throughout her life. She was a first-generation college student who worked her way through school with my grandmother's support and became one of the first African American educators to teach in the integrated public school system in Athens during the 1960s. She ended her career in adult education, working for 20 years in prepping older students to earn their GED certificates and preparing them for higher-paying jobs.

Mom was in her mid-70s when she retired, but she had no problems continuing to manage her everyday tasks of paying bills, cooking, grocery shopping and driving to church services. She stayed physically fit by walking a half-mile in her neighborhood almost daily. Her exercise regimen ceased around two years ago due to a problem with stray dogs occasionally darting through her subdivision, and she didn't want to risk getting bitten. As we all know, when we stop exercising or at least engaging in moderate physical activity, it catches up with our bodies. I remember telling my mother to walk more inside her home and to incorporate a strength and conditioning routine, but this proved more challenging than simply taking the regular strolls she was used to.

When I flew home for Christmas last year, I noticed that Mom was moving much slower and not doing things quite as efficiently, particularly driving. I reasoned that this was due to age, but I began to wrestle with whether or not to bring her back to Ohio with me. I knew that Mom would dearly miss our hometown and her friends if she did have to leave.


I didn't have to mull over this decision long before my mother fell in her garage during the holidays after coming back from a grocery store errand. At first, it seemed that she would just be sore for at least a week or two, but the next day she could not get out of bed. The fall jarred her chest, and she was in extreme pain. When I took Mom to the emergency room, we found out that she also had inflammation, so steroids were prescribed to treat her condition.

As I began making preparations to bring her home with me, I immediately called my pastor, Overseer S.D. Carter, to inform her and my Vision of Breath with Life Ministries family of what had transpired. I felt their prayers in the core of my soul as I was frightened in a manner that I had never experienced. This was the first serious medical ailment that my mother had faced. She had never been helpless, not even during my adult years. Now, she needed me to take care of her.

I am fortunate that the transition to being a caregiver for my mother has not been an enormously difficult one. She has health insurance, which enables her to get the physical therapy she needs, and I have been able to adjust my work schedule for her doctor's appointments. My mom even jokes about my cooking now that she is living with me, and I know that I am going to have to learn how to add variety to my meals that do not include my staples of baked chicken and turkey burgers.

As Mom and I celebrate this Mother's Day, I am reflecting on Proverbs 23:22, which says, "... despise not [your] mother when she is old," that is, do not treat her with contempt. I am thankful that God has graciously given me another year to honor my mom, as each day I have with her is a blessing.

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