Reading this book this time of year with my dad’s birthday last week and the fourth anniversary of my mom’s death as our caregiving/receiving journey together ended was probably not the best idea I’ve ever had.
But I’m still glad I read it because Jo and Mama Jo’s story reminded me so much of my mom’s and my story. The title is intriguing, but in a very real sense much the same thing I experienced with my mom. After my dad died, in a sense, I took on a surrogate spouse/companion role with my mom. The analogy doesn’t much further than the essence of that suggests: her life and mine were bound up together until death – hers – parted us and I was responsible to make sure that what was left of her life was as good, as full, as honorable, as safe, and as loving as possible.
There are a lot of parallels between Jo and Mama Jo’s story and my mom’s and my story, especially in terms of the all-in we gave to our moms, and recognizing, that being able to care for our moms was the single greatest blessing, despite all the bumps and hiccups along the way and the dire straits we found ourselves in afterwards in every part of our lives, we could have ever received or asked for and presented with the same opportunity, knowing what we know now, we’d do it in a heartbeat all over again.
Caring for Mama Jo changed Jo in so many positive ways, just as caring for my mom changed me in so many positive ways. It brought out in both of us a deeper love, tenderness, care, concern, patience, empathy, compassion, and respect for our moms.
I’m still learning lessons from that experience that are changing mo on the inside. I daresay so is Jo.
It’s a poignant story of love, of forgiveness, of understanding, of growth and of change that came from an experience that we knew intellectually was eventually going to be a reality, but that we could not have ever known would ha
ve unfolded in actuality the way it did and finding ourselves on the other side of it thankful for the breadth and depth and width of every bit of it.