Today is my mother’s birthday. She passed away seven years ago, at the age of 88.
I am really missing her today.
Due to the intricacies and craziness that weaved the fabric of our family, I did not feel close with my mother growing up. I loved her because she was my mom. She was always there in our home, making sure that we were safe and well fed. She had her own issues that she suffered through her whole life, that I was completely oblivious to. All I knew was that I loved her and she loved me…however, we did not know eachother’s hearts during those years. Due to the dynamics of our family, that revolved around the care of my quadriplegic older sister, there were no long mother/daughter talks, lunches out, shopping excursions or anything else that I imagine mothers and daughters doing together.
All of that would change when my father passed away. My mom was unable to live on her own, so my husband and I invited her to live with us. After a little prodding by my hubby, she decided to move from Ohio to our Virgina home, and lived with us for about 11 years. As I get older, I am more able to understand how difficult that decision must have been for her. She had lived in that home, (and raised four daughters in it) for decades. We helped her to sell her home, which meant giving away and throwing away most of the material things that were attached to her heart as memories.
Now looking back, my heart is opened up to the grace that my mom exhibited through the move, growing older, and living with my husband and me. She was a bit of a hoarder, along with my dad, as they grew older and less able. Although it was extremely hard for her, she allowed me and my sister to clean out her house, save the things that we knew she would want to keep, and then move her into our home.
That move changed everything. Although I was secretly hoping for that “magical” mother and daughter relationship to develop, what I was blessed with was learning the reality of who my mother was, and I also learned so much about myself in the process.
Learning about and accepting yourself is more of a struggle than I ever realized…and the serendipity in that, is that learning about yourself usually leads you to learn about others. Both my mom and I had layers upon layers to be peeled away. Her layers were even more stubborn than mine, and many remained tightly shut. I learned to respect that in her…and learned to love who she was instead of who I thought she should be.
So, Happy Birthday, Mom! I wish you were here so we could share some of your Coconut Birthday Cake that you loved so much. And I could watch your eyes light up while opening a new Barbie Doll for your collection, or your favorite body care lotions and sprays, or some sparkly piece of jewelry. Small things brought you joy, and you passed that trait on to me.
I am remembering simple, sweet moments that we shared together. At the time, I had no idea of the value of those moments. But I think you did…and I thank you for being the mother that you were to me, and for the love that you shared with me and our family, in your own unique way.
Some of the moments that bring smiles to my heart:
You always praised my cooking and baking. When even I knew it was pretty bad, you would say, “That was different!”
When we would shop at Costo while I was pushing you in your wheelchair and you were pushing a cart ahead of the wheelchair. You would have me pile so many items in the cart that I could hardly see to navigate your chair.
You insisted on buying a “Grabber” for me. I fought you on it, because I was “not old and didn’t need one.” I think of you each time I use that thing!
You always had childlike wonder during holidays. You loved things that reminded you of years past…and the years of raising us girls. Some of those things that brought you joy were Jelly Beans, Easter Peeps, Candy Corn, Ribbon Candy, Flowers, Wreaths, Candles…the list goes on. Christmas music and Christmas cards. I miss writing our cards together, and reading the little notes you added to your cards.
You always thought of others. Little gifts for friends/loved ones. Many prayers each day that you offered for so many. I am sure those prayers saved me on more than one occasion.
I miss the way you looked up at me over your cute reading glasses, to ask me how my day at work was.
I miss the way you insisted on seeing my outfit when I was leaving for work or an event, and always complimenting me. (it was nice to hear even if I did not always feel that I looked the way you said I did!)
I miss your blue eyes, and the way they teared up at Mass.
I miss the way you talked about how much you loved all of us sisters, and our growing families.
I especially miss the way you overlooked all of my weaknesses and loved me as I am.
I miss the way YOU NEVER GAVE UP.
Mom, you are loved and missed. Hopefully, you are able to see those of us that are still living in this world, and you can feel the love we carry in our hearts for you, through the veil of heaven and earth.
Rest in the Love of The Lord. Until we meet again…
1 Peter 3:4: “You should be known for the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.”
Deuteronomy 4:9: “Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.”
Luke 2:51: “And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart.”