Tuesday, July 1, 2014
For My Mother
This Wednesday, July 2nd, 2104, will be the 33rd anniversary of my mother's fatal car wreck. I would like, if I may, to tell you a bit about her.
She was a beautiful human being - inside and out. At 5'6" she was voluptuous, reminiscent of Elizabeth Taylor in her heyday. With curly auburn hair and a face full of freckles, bless her heart, she could walk outside in a rain storm and get sunburned. Though she always worried about her weight, to me she was the perfect amount of plump to snuggle into when she would hold you in her arms, to her bosom.
When she met my father she was in nursing school. She left that to get married and have me. She would have made a marvelous nurse - she was so caring and gentle, so tender-hearted. I always felt responsible, I felt bad, knowing that if not for me she could have done so much more with her life. She never made me feel that way, though.
She was amazing at mothering, at making you feel safe in her company. She made sure the dogs and cats were fed and cared for. When we were at the mall one year looking for a dress for me for an upcoming school dance we saw a guard about to throw a tiny kitten out into the snowstorm that was raging. Someone had dumped it in the JCPenney's. She allowed me to grab the kitten and we carried it through the mall until we found me an outfit. We had that little cat, Jesse, for years.
She was a fantastic daughter to my grandmother. Mom lost her father when I was three and she was pregnant with my little brother. I know that must have been hard, because I was pregnant with my first son when she passed away. She was always there for her two brothers. As the oldest, they looked up to her. She was the one who planned the family get-togethers on both sides. My father's mother said that the family would never be together again like it was before mom passed and she was right, there were no more holiday reunions.
My mother was a wonderful friend. She would take care of the neighborhood kids if needed and she was right there to help plan a party. She fit right in with the other mothers.
As she and my father grew apart and got divorced, it became clear what my mother was not. She was not a great housekeeper. She preferred to be involved with us instead of doing the cleaning. The house was not nasty, just unkempt. There were more important things to do.
My mother was not mentally fit. Later I learned that she must have suffered from anxiety and depression. Severe depression. If I only knew then what I know now I would not have been the rebellious teenager that caused her grief. I would have understood her a bit more, been a bit more helpful in the house and with my younger brother and sister. Let's face it, I could have been a lot more helpful to her, but I was seventeen and I knew everything and wanted stuff my way.
When she died I was five months pregnant with my firstborn. I was just getting up the nerve to tell her and my father. How different everyone's life would have been if I had had my mom in my corner when the baby was born! Instead, I was bereft of the joy that would have come with seeing her with her first grandchild and I suffered postpartum depression.
From my mother I learned that everyone on earth deserves to be loved. That every creature is important and has a purpose. That you should always be kind. That there is poetry all around us if we would only look. That great happiness can be found in books. That human touch is, in itself, healing.
But I also got, from her and from my father's family, the propensity for great depression and anxiety. The ability to suffer dire sadness. The love of procrastination where cleaning, inside my mind and in my environment, is concerned. When I think of all that she suffered through without help, it makes me sadder.
I hope that the day goes by uneventfully for my little brother and little sister. It is, of course, very hard on them, too. Although I miss her terribly and hate the awful day she was wrenched from us, I try to take comfort in the fact that I had a bit of time with her at all. She was a wonderful person and I strive to be like her, in most ways.
And I hope that, if you have plans that include your family this Fourth of July holiday, you take a minute and thank your mother for being there for you. Because you just never know, do you?