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.
After school on ordinary days
the front screen door
would bang behind us,
announce our arrival.
Without dropping books or shedding coats,
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,
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,
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.