Thanks…

Thanks to everyone who has commented on this blog, emailed, called, sent flowers and cards.  So many of you mentioned how well you feel you knew my mom, like she was a friend … and it helps to feel your embrace.

The other night, a woman I haven’t seen in awhile expressed her condolences and then said, “It must be a bit of a relief, as well.”

I understood how she meant it (no offense), but after giving it some thought, the relief she speaks of is simply not there.  I don’t spend the days sobbing or the nights dreaming about her, but I miss my mother terribly and wish her snarky self was still here.

And it’s kind of funny when you realize how during these past 15-plus years, she was less mother and more daughter to me.  She needed much more care and attention than she gave.

Growing up, she was not the kind of mother most other kids had.  I often felt ‘misplaced’ … like I was living in the wrong house, with the wrong family.

I had my son at a young age, just barely 17.  Once we had motherhood in common though, our relationship changed.  It grew up a bit.  But it’s only been in these past 15 years that I’ve been able to touch her and be touched back, both physically and emotionally.

So often, I’ve wondered who she was as a young woman and hoped we would have been good friends.  In these past years, she allowed glimpses and I feel so blessed to have had a front row seat.

With Mom & Kevin, 1977

Ordinary

After school on ordinary days
the front screen door
would bang behind us,
announce our arrival.

Without dropping books or shedding coats,
we’d follow the scent of Toll House cookies,
banana nut bread, apple pie,
up the worn stairs and into the kitchen.

Our mother never kissed our cheeks
or hugged us hello.
She’d never ask how school went
or what we did that day.

She would not offer
to help with homework.
Instead, she’d ask if we were hungry.
What did we want to eat?

Back then, I never thought it odd,
never wished
she’d be more like
someone else’s mother.

Later, I’d sit on the floor
outside her bedroom door
while she put on a uniform and hairnet
for second shift at the bakery,

not knowing
all these years later
how much I would miss her
for those hours she had to work –

smell Ivory soap,
recall the swipe of red lipstick,
wish I’d stayed up late
to welcome her home.

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About hereisakiss

Daughter Writer Art's Educator
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6 Responses to Thanks…

  1. I understand how you feel. Each morning I glance over at the phone and go to pick it up so I can caller her and ask her how the weather is, or are you eating, or is anyone coming by today. I miss her asking me how the kids are, how’s Sandie-Lee, how’s Sandi. I wish I could hear her voice just once more tell me to put a jacket on, or to take it easy because I’m working too much.
    It’s odd to hear you talk about her, because that’s not the mom I remember. She always had a hug for me, or an I love you before bed. She always took time with me. She taught me how to throw a baseball, how to ride a bike. She took me everywhere with her, even to places where people didn’t want to see me coming. My mother didn’t care what they thought, even if she did carry a bit of string to tie to my ankle and to the chair she sat in.
    My mom always sat and listened to me read my poems. She always wanted to know how my day at school went. As a small child, I didn’t have friends, my mother was my friend. Kids would chase me home or beat me up everyday, and if mom wasn’t the person she was with me, I don’t know what I would have turned out to be, or if I would have even made it that far. I owe her everything, because my mother, the mother that I knew, taught me everything about the meaning of love, and for that I am forever grateful. I miss you Mom, and I can’t wait to see you and Dad, and Joey again one day.

  2. Melissa Blythe Johnson Carissimo says:

    Dear Elizabeth,
    This is Melissa Johnson Carissimo writing from Genoa, Italy. I was so sorry to read about your mom’s passing. Your last years with her have been a gift and challenge that you have embraced with grace and creative wisdom, inspiring us. How proud your mother must have been of you (whether or not she articulated it!), and how lucky you were to have each other.
    My own mother passed away in 2000 after a year or so of fighting an aggressive cancer, which she did bravely and with a sense of humor. My brother and I joked that she did “dying” extraordinarily well–she was really very good at it (like your mom), in all the ways that her loved ones could have hoped. Strangely, her terrible illness also gave the two of us an opportunity we might not have otherwise had. It offered a rich and undeniable context in which to explore our relationship and our love for each other, in spite of many mother-daughter difficulties in decades preceding.
    In your blog about you and your mom, i related so much to the opportunity you were creating and tending for your own growth as a daughter and as a woman: thank you for sharing your unique journey–the amazing thing is, it has really just begun.
    With condolences and affection,
    melissa

    • hereisakiss says:

      Melissa…In so few words you say so much. In the end, like your relationship with your mother, my mom and I were able to have conversations and do things together we probably would not have otherwise. It was interesting to me to read what my youngest brother wrote about his life with our mom, as well as what my son spoke at her service. Not the mom I had (until these last years). Why did she (or your mom) hold it back? Or is it something I (or you) did not offer?

      • Melissa Blythe Johnson Carissimo says:

        This is just a thought, but it may have something to do with our all being female, you and I and our moms: a mother with the beloved boys in her life is a woman in another mode, in some cases more emotionally relaxed. With a daughter, there aren’t the same natural boundaries. A mom may unwittingly feel the need to create them by distancing herself in certain ways. In the absence of gender sameness, boys may pose less of a threat than girls. And with her son, there’s far less pressure to be a role-model, a daunting task for a mom who’s at all unsure of herself. I smiled with recognition to read your query, “…or is it something (we) did not offer.” We kids are all the same! I send you a big hug, and gently remind you–and myself at the same time–that it wasn’t our fault. Perhaps more importantly, there’s truly no one to blame…

  3. hereisakiss says:

    Pressure to be a role-model and being unsure of herself…I never thought of it that way. My mom always seemed more comfortable with her ‘masculine’ self. And yet, in so many ways she was a wonderful role-model for a daughter. And it is cliche (and has taken much of a life-time to admit), but I am my mother’s daughter…in ways good and not so good. A hug back to you…

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