As I look back, the earliest memory I have of interaction with mom is a day I came home from third grade and told her that I had volunteered HER to bake 3 cakes for the cake walk at our school carnival.....and they needed to be done by 7 o'clock that very evening. That was the first time I knew what it meant when she "raised her eyebrows" and "rolled her eyes". But I also found out what unconditional love meant. She smiled that beautiful smile, we baked the cakes and got them to the school in plenty of time.
I remember my mom always holding my hand no matter where we went. And as I grew up, that became a conflict between us. I mean, what 8 year old wants to be seen holding her mom's hand when she crosses the street? However, at that time, NOone would have been able to convince me that someday I would long to feel her strong hand around mine, giving me comfort and guiding me to safety once again.
There were the usual disagreements between mother and daughter, and I remember thinking that I would never live to be as old as she was, but if I did, I would be way smarter and certainly much more tolerant. And again, a few years later, I discovered that something remarkable had happened....she was the person I most admired....my hero, the person I wanted to be like when I grew up.
In retrospect, that lesson ended up being the most difficult one. I found that being a parent was not as easy as she made it look. (I swore it was just a case of having eyes in the back of her head, or spies at the movie theatre). She taught me that it is a life long committment of supporting, trusting, nurturing and "being there" when needed. Mom excelled at all of those things.
I can't remember ever feeling alone. That was one of the most wonderful things about growing up. She always had a hug for me, or a brush for my hair, a Bufferin for my head and a Band-Aid for my knee.
Mom seemed to know when something was bothering me and I knew she was the best person to go to for advise and encouragement. We would take walks in the park, go for a drive or lay on a blanket looking at the clouds during the day or the stars at night. At the end of these sessions a miracle seemed to have occured. The problem was either solved or I had found the courage to face the dilemma and knew what needed to be done to work it out for myself.
Guess I was a typical teenager, because it seemed to me that she thrived on embarrassing me in front of my friends by saying the dumbest things!!!! Her favorite phrase at that time was "See Ya Later Alligator"....to which my friends gave the appropriate response, then we'd wave "bye" to her and be on our way. They would laugh and tell me how funny they thought she was. And she was funny! Mom has such a quick wit and marvelous sense of humor and sometimes gets such a mischievous look in her eyes when she smiles. But when she laughs, they always twinkle.
I don't recall exactly when she got older.....or became ill. The process was slow at first, and I think I was in denial. If I didn't want it to happen and if I prayed hard enough and sincere enough, then it couldn't possibly happen. But one day it dawned on me, I was the one giving her the Bufferin and Band-Aids and brushing her hair. Now when we held hands, her hand seemed to be the small and fragile one. I had mixed emotions at the time, but I was so thankful that I could return the unconditional love and caring that she had so unselfishly given to her family for so many years. Sometimes "paybacks" can also be a thing of great joy.
She has been gone a month now, but she is never far from me, a part of her lives on. When I brush my hair, she will be talking to me about needing a hair cut and advising me to stop cutting it myself!!! :-) When I see the clouds during the day, or watch the stars at night, I will reflect back on our talks and find peace in my heart. I'll always keep lots of Band-Aids and Bufferin around, just in case someone else needs comforting. And when I cross the street, subconsciously, I'll still reach up for her hand.
The last time she talked to me at the hospice center, she was semi-lucid and not in much pain. Out of the blue, she turned her head to me and said "See Ya Later Alligator"....and I hugged her as tight as I dared and we both smiled.
And now, every night when I go to bed, I just have to say......"after while crocodile"
She was my best friend, my mentor, my mom.
And I miss her terribly.
Love you mom.
Memorials, Fourth Quarter 2001 | Main Index, Memorials
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