Memories of Mom
One of my earliest memories of Mom was as a young child, sitting at the dining table, unable to take my eyes off her beautiful face. Years later, white hair, aging skin, and a soft figure didn’t erase that childhood image. And when our roles reversed without any effort on either of our parts, Mom never let me forget who the parent was. Perhaps this is the unequivocal nature of parents – retaining the image of family hierarchy to protect their children, and perhaps themselves, from the fact that life is indeed short. Admittedly, there’s a certain comfort imparted to families when, through the years, a parent remains the stabilizing force during life’s unavoidable challenges.
Mom hid her failing health from her family, never wanting to be a burden or asking for special treatment from anyone. The only thing she wanted as she aged was the ability to make her own choices, without the recrimination of others. In fact, she would argue at great length with anyone who tried to change her mind, especially when it came to matters of her health.
I knew the sudden death of my brother, two years earlier, took a huge toll on my mother. Sensing my concern, mom made a point of calling me every day and left messages if she missed me, to alleviate any worry (about her) on my part. I’d usually call her back and we’d banter on, like two old friends.
About a month before she died I felt prompted to save several of her voice mail messages, although at the time, I thought it weird and never told her what I did. Now, I find comfort listening to the recording of those repeated messages; that tangible memory of her voice, as she says, “I’m fine. Don’t call me back. I’m just fine. Love you.”
Mom was my best teacher and later my dear friend. I will miss her honesty, her wisdom, her phenomenal memory, and her laughter. I will never forget that she was the real-deal. Throughout her life, she loved my brothers, sister and me equally, always putting our needs before her own; always making us feel like we were the center of her life.
Sitting in her hospital room the night before she died, she wagged a finger to my sister and me as we entered. “I don’t want to make either of you sad,” she said, “but if tomorrow's procedure doesn’t have a happy ending, I’m fine with it.” The next day, her heart stopped on the operating table before surgery ever began.(That day was,ironically, 2 days shy of the two year anniversary of my brother's death.)
I have to wonder, if we as spiritual beings may have an inkling when our time is at hand. Perhaps that is the moment when we find our peace and surrender to our higher power.
Those of us who loved her now struggle to find peace in our loss. How can we not be sad when her passing leaves such a void? I guess, as we start this new chapter in our lives with only memories of Mom to bolster us, we must find strength in her own words: “I’m fine, just fine.”
In our grief, if we can remember that she lives on in us, I know in my heart, eventually, we’ll be fine, too.