About My Mother
She lay in the bed and cried. Not even 24 hours later and now the pillow beside her was empty. He was just there yesterday holding her hand. 52 years with the same man and now she was on her own. The love of her life was gone.
“My mom is a real live superwoman!” At least that’s how I describe her. Mom is a much more appropriate name for her. The word “mother” makes me think of someone who does not have a relationship with their own mom. Friends of ours even called her mom. It just came natural. “Help yourselves because if you don’t you’ll starve.” That was a famous phrase Mom spoke around our house. Mom meant it in the best way of course with a little humor thrown in. Mom has her moments of being funny. I can picture some of the faces she would make. She always has a comeback so be prepared. Our house was warm. Mom never sat down when we had company. She would prepare these big meals for everyone and not think twice about it. There were many years of having to feed a house full of people so I think she just never stopped. There has always been plenty of food no matter how big the crowd.
Dad was a meat and potatoes kind of guy. It was always something affordable though. No steak dinners for us. There was never any money in our family but for some reason we were rich. We were not rich like most people picture. We were rich in love. We had some of the most loving parents in the world. The meal on the table was good because it was always made with love. To this day, I am not too much of a steak eater and I always try to duplicate many of Mom’s great recipes. I remember the stuffed peppers. I loved the insides but never ate the pepper. All that hard work Mom did but never said anything to me and Dad would always take my pepper and eat it himself. Dinner time was always a great memory. Mom would have us girls (there were 4 of us) set the table in a proper way. Fork on the left of the plate, knife and spoon on the right, with a folded napkin under the knife and spoon. Everyone had a designated seat also. Dinner was conversation. First we would say the Lord’s Prayer together. We had to excuse ourselves after we were done eating but Mom never got angry, just kind of peered at us in such a way that we knew not to tread on that one. We always obeyed although she may say differently.
My dad was a police officer. I couldn’t imagine being married to a police officer, especially in Detroit during the riots. Mom went through quite a bit back then. He retired from the police department after 27 years and moved the family to Florida. Maybe my mom thought the pain and worry would be over. Maybe Florida was retirement where they could have time to enjoy and relax. The next turn of events was even more traumatic. They say losing a child is the worst possible pain. Well, Mom didn’t lose a child but I think it was just as bad because it dragged on and on for years. I remember Mom crying out of the blue. She would be thinking about my sister, Nancy.
Mom went through quite a bit when we were teenagers. One of my sisters ran away when we moved to Florida. She wasn’t happy about the move since she was pulled from high school. That is a bad time for that age I guess. I didn’t act out from the move but went down the wrong path and became quite the party animal. My hours were late and the friends I kept were not exactly what Mom wanted and I can see why now. Then there was Nancy. She caused Mom more grief than anyone could ever want but no fault of her own. She went missing for over 7 years. Mom struggled through years of pain wondering where Nancy was. Doctor’s said she had only weeks to live when they found her. What a nightmare. Mom was relieved to have Nancy back but the pain remained. It was all over the news. Mom didn’t care about all the press. They avoided cameras and just wanted Nancy back. That is another story in itself. She was rehabilitated and moved down to Florida. Mom and Nancy have a strong bond and spend quite a bit of time together.
Family gatherings were always entertaining. If we attended a wedding, Mom would be right in the middle of the action. She loves to dance so she would always be the first one on the dance floor, pulling on anyone’s arm to dance with her. Dad wasn’t much on dancing, bless his heart, but he loved watching mom dance. She sure could move too. She would be shaking her hips and moving her feet faster than I could keep up. Her smile would light up the room as she danced. She attends line dancing classes every Wednesday and has for quite a few years now.
Dad just recently passed in January and this is a very difficult time for her. She stays busy but I am afraid the moment still hasn’t hit her. They were inseparable. They volunteered together at Give Kids the World. Both were very heavily involved in the Catholic Church. Mom & Dad were Eucharistic ministers and ushers during church. In the Catholic religion, Eucharistic ministers help hand out communion to the congregation. I went to church a couple of times while I was visiting. I really enjoyed watching Mom and Dad working side by side. It was so heartwarming that it would bring tears to my eyes. Mom was also involved in many of the other activities after church too like the bake sale, the rummage sale and the angel tree program. Of course the activities were all set aside while Mom was caring for Dad when he was sick.
Once again, Mom’s strength was to be tested. The last days were very difficult. We were all there. Mom would lay with Dad and hold his hand when he could no longer get out of bed. Mom would share Dad’s hand with us. She would say; “You girls can hold his hand during the day. I get to hold his hand all night” and she did…up until the very last breath he took at 4:01 in the morning. That is a moment we will all remember forever. Mom was lost. She was religious so she knew he was with God but it was still hard letting go. Her face did not lie. Her life partner was gone. She smiled briefly at the thought of Dad passing on the date that he did. Dad was always one for noticing things like 1/11/11. We told Mom we were surprised he didn’t go at 1:11. It gave her a moment of Dad’s humor which seemed to comfort her in some way.
I received a call from her just the other day. She sounded the best she has in a long time. The excitement in her voice was that of a teenager getting ready to go to a concert. Her best friend for years has been her next door neighbor, Lorraine. She called Mom to go out and dress up as if they were back in the fifties again. Mom said they all were pregnant back then and suggested they all dress up as pregnant women from the fifties! I couldn’t believe my mom suggested that, but she did and I thought that was great. She had it all planned out. There were four of them and one woman still had a husband. He was going to wear a sign that said “Expecting quads”…..The smile and laughter coming out of me puzzled my husband because he knew I was talking to my mom. This wasn’t a normal response. I loved hearing her laugh and talk it up like she used to do before everything hit her. After I hung up with her, she called back shortly after and said the event was cancelled. My heart was broken because I knew what it meant to her. The same as the teenager getting ready to go to the concert and finding out it got cancelled. Lorraine immediately asked her to join them for a trip to Lakeland for a whole day of fun which included lunch and dinner. Mom didn’t hesitate, she replied “I’m in!” and that is exactly how she told me.
I realize Mom is keeping herself busy to keep her mind off the loss of her husband. I lost my husband several years ago in a car crash. I can feel some of what she is going through because of the loss of my husband. I did not have 52 years with him but the pain was very real. I can completely understand the schedule she is making for herself if she feels any of that pain. I was still there when the first card had to be filled out. It was my nephews’ birthday. He turned 21 the day after my dad’s funeral. She was leaning down to write in the card and stopped. She looked at me with a tear of sadness in her eyes and said; “I almost wrote Love Grandma and Grandpa”.
If I had the opportunity to become a mother I would do things exactly the same as she did. I feel the way I was raised was the best example of how to raise your kids I have ever seen. We had ups, we had downs, we had sadness and we had joy. Most importantly, we had love.