Last But Not Least - May 2012
A hard place
By Lisa Robinson
I am between a rock and a hard, hard place. That would be between my mother and
my family. Some would say those of us rearing children and taking care of our
ailing parents are of the sandwich generation. A sandwich would be much easier
For the past 15 years or so, my mother has had a number of medical problems
that my brothers and I have been trying to help her manage. But the hard truth
is, a mother wants her daughter to tend to many of
those issues. And so I have taken her to a countless number of doctors’
appointments and emergency room visits, endured calls in the middle of the
night, the middle of my workday, and dealt with much more.
The other day my youngest, 13-year-old Grace, reminded
me that she spent most of fifth grade at the hospital. That’s because
I had to drag her and her sister with me to sit
with my mother, to talk to her doctors, and do countless other things while she
was in the hospital. It wasn’t fair. I know.
But they were good about giving Grammy back rubs and helping her eat and making
her laugh. Still, I know it was not the place for kids. But it has helped them
develop empathy—I hope.
My mother, Ida Robinson, taught school in Baltimore City for 42 years. In my
travels I always meet men and women who ask about her, telling me she was their
teacher and how much they loved her. For more than 30 years, she taught at
Grove Park Elementary School. Our house was next to the school, and her
students would meet her there, carry her bags
and books and walk her to her classroom and back again at the end of the day. The
school even named a hallway after her.
She is and has been one of the most loving mothers a child could want. I
find her at age 77 to be hilariously demanding. She blows up my cell phone
constantly with messages. “Lisa, call me.” “Lisa, can you come over and take
the chicken out of the freezer?” “Lisa, it’s just me. How is Grace?” “Lisa,
there is nothing in the fridge.” “Lisa, can you go to the store for me?” “Lisa
can you make me beans today?” “Lisa, I don’t feel well, call me.” “Lisa, I have
to go to the eye doctor next week, can you take me?” “Lisa, can you get my bank
statement?” “Lisa, I would like to go to the hairdresser.” “Lisa, do you need
anything?” That’s the one that will make you melt, because my mother will do
anything for her children.
And so I pick her up and take her where she needs to go. Going up and down the
eight steps of her house is no easy task. She likes to go up saying, “One, two,
three,” and then have me give her a push so she can take a step. It makes her
feel more secure going up those steps. How I wish for her to have an easier
time—to not struggle. But making our parents see they need change at
times is not easy.
Juggling it all is so difficult. I see my co-workers and friends struggle with
these same issues, too. But those who have lost their parents are always
reminding me that it could be worse, saying they wish they had them with them
still. And they will say to me, “One day you will wish she was calling you to
bug you about what’s in the freezer.”
I have watched my mother be so strong, stronger than I could ever
be—enduring operation after operation, so much pain, and pulling through
it all, because she wants to live another day to see her children do great
things and her grandchildren do even greater things. She will not sign a living
she says, even if she somehow ends up in a
coma, they might find a cure.
Oh, she is a piece of work.
But my mother...if you knew her, you would love her.
So I have to find a way to move that rock every now and then and get out of
that hard place. All I can say to all of you dealing with a similar situation
is to do like my mom and I do and take it one step at a time. One, two,
three—and eventually we will get through it.
Hug your mother really close this Mother’s Day! BC
My mother passed away the day after I wrote this. I truly miss that she is no
longer blowing up my phone, that one, two, three won’t happen again, and that I
won’t get to cook her another meal, take her to another doctor, or just give
her a kiss on her forehead. Ida Robinson, 1934-2012. She was a fighter and a
Lisa Robinson is a news anchor for
© Baltimore’s Child Inc. May 2012