Once a mother, always a mother

By Christie McNeal

“You’ll always be my little girl.” I heard these words quite often from my mother growing up, usually after I misbehaved and had been punished.
When I got older, the saying changed to, “No matter how old you get, you will still always be my little girl.”
While I always appreciated these comforting words from my mother, I never realized just how true they would really be and how much they would one day mean.
Almost two years ago, I caught bacterial meningitis.
While I had my family, friends, co-workers and complete strangers by my side, praying for me and cheering me toward recovery, I’ll never forget all my mom did for me during that time. Plus, when you are sick, sometimes you just need your mom.
It was like I had never grown up, moved away and gotten married. I was – just like she said – still her little girl. After two weeks of off-and-on unconsciousness, in and out of the ICU, I woke up to a strange new world.
I was so weak I could barely lift my legs off the bed. I was so tired it was hard to think about anything. I had double-vision, and I was constantly dizzy and nauseated. It was going to be a long recovery ahead, but I was determined I would get back to my old self.
My mom was also determined not to let me give up. She practically lived in the hospital with me for the almost three months I was there – first in Birmingham and then through rehabilitation in Tupelo.
When I was able to go home and do outpatient rehab, she moved in with my husband and me so he could continue working, and I would not be alone.
She drove me to numerous rehab visits and doctor appointments. She fixed meals for me. She encouraged me to work on art projects or read – anything to keep me from wanting to sleep all the time. She helped me in more ways than I can even explain.
When I was doing much better, she went home to Georgia, where I’m sure my dad and their other daughter – a black lab named Margie – missed her greatly.
However, to this day, she is still my biggest cheerleader and best friend. We don’t go a day without talking, and she still worries about me more than a mother should have to.
I don’t know what I would do without her, and I hope she knows just how much of a superhero I think she is. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. I love you.
christie.mcneal@journalinc.com