Today has been a strange day for a number of reasons. The weather has turned too cold too quickly. We’re trying to plan for some holiday stuff and personal stuff. And I just feel a bit “off” today.
Then I remembered that today would have been my mom’s 87th birthday. And tomorrow would have been my brother John’s 65th birthday. They’ve both been gone a long time. And I’m fine. But they’re in my awareness.
So, as a way of acknowledging my mom, I’m reposting something that I wrote about her back in July of 2021….It’s not flowery. I didn’t grow up in that kind of home. But it’s honest. And it honors her very real contradictions….all of those opposites and extremes that live in all of us…..
Happy Birthday mom!
Prompt- What remains of my mom in me….
I was thinking about my mom today even before I received the daily challenge prompt. I don’t think I’ve ever written about her. I guess it’s time….
My mom died when I was 31. But I had lost her to alcoholism long before…probably around age 10. My dad got sole custody of me when I was 12.
So what remains of my mom in me….
My most treasured memory of my mom is of the two of us lying on the grass on a warm summer day trying to find shapes and pictures in the puffy, white clouds above. I was probably about 7 years old. She was happy that day and quite present…
My mom carried a burden that I was too young to identify or understand. Whatever it was, it made her feel less than…She never felt good enough, ever. And I believe that’s why she set the bar so high for how people were to be treated. Drunk or sober, she would not tolerate bigotry in any form. Nor would she suffer bullies. She taught me to speak up for others and I’ve been doing it since I was in first grade.
She had beautiful handwriting, could sketch well and she loved all things French, including the language. Those things morphed into my love of all things Spanish, including the language and the need to write, rather than draw. Sadly, the beautiful penmanship did NOT come my way!
Probably the most profound gift that she gave me came in answer to my question in second or third grade. I remember it clearly even now. I asked her why I was disabled. No one else in our family had anything even remotely resembling my neuromuscular disease. And I’d never met any other kids with any similar issues either. So why me? She never missed a beat. She said that absolutely everyone had a disability, it was just that most weren’t as obvious or as visible as mine. She explained that nobody’s life was easy or charmed. Everyone deals with hard stuff and that we needed to show kindness and compassion toward them, whether we knew about their challenges or not. What a wonderful gift to give a child!
Her infidelity gave me a father I’ll never know, siblings who don’t want to meet their father’s mistake, and a genetic/religious heritage that are deeper and broader than my heart can perceive.
Time has helped to soften my anger, hurt and resentment….these were gifted to me too. They were also part of her that lived in me. And, for a very long time, they were the loudest and brightest….the clearest memories that I possessed. But loudness and brightness don’t mean truest.
Her kindness was as real as her drunkenness. Her compassion was as real as her absence. Her generosity was as true as her subterfuge.
Her legacy lies in my decision to choose what to keep and what to release.
I’m glad you’re here 💜
****This post is part of the 2022 Nanopoblano November writing challenge. We commit to writing a blog post every day if it all possible and to supporting each other in our writing endeavors. All of my cheer pepper friends would appreciate your support. You can find all of their blogs HERE: