Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Three years ago today...............

Me and my Mom - at my wedding 4/25/1998

............we (my sister, brother and I) lost our mother. It was unexpected in its suddenness and although we knew she was very sick - I think there is no way to really prepare for the demise of your parent. In our case - our only parent. I think she died as she had wished - at home, no doctors or hospital. She was at her computer probably talking to one of the tons of people she chatted with or played games with. One of her online buddies sent a note yesterday - I was touched. There were many who wrote to us three years ago, I saved all those notes - I wished then as I wish now that she could have felt about herself the way everyone else felt about her.

My Mom was a lot of things - perfect wasn't one of them. Smart, fun, kind, a great cook and generous to a fault. As a mom she was loving and could be somewhat wacky at times - sometimes on purpose and sometimes not. She had a great sense of humor and loved the ridiculous - and a good play on words. We could go back and forth at it for hours.. sometimes weeks during brief giggling phone calls back and forth each word getting more and more convoluted.

I suppose some of the things that I remember most are the things that set her apart from the mainstream - taking us crabbing off Babylon Municipal Docks at midnight in the summer heat, so once we got to see a real shark (dead!) that a famous shark hunter dragged into the dock but ultimately had to drag across the sound to be hauled up and weighed - 850 lbs of Tiger Shark! How many folks can say that? Packing us kids up with nets and flashlights (and pepper and egg sandwiches) and a cooler full of some cold drink - listening to the adults laughter and smelling the ocean or bay breeze. Having Mom wake us in the middle of the night to watch a really old movie - Like Raintree County with Elizabeth Taylor or Wuthering Heights with Merle Oberon and Lawrence Olivier. Letting us read whatever we wanted - Including Jaws when I was only 10 years old - way more scary than the movie and I didn't swim for quite a while. How SHE got a tattoo in rebellion when I was 17 - then showed it to anyone who cared to see (a butterfly on her shoulder, I was mortified!) and how impressed with herself she was for daring to do it. I could go on and on - but I won't.

Her incredible talent in making things.... she once created an entire Trousseau ( I only knew about Trousseau because of my love for Victorian romantic novels and was obsessed for a time with embroidering my own) for my Barbie - the one my sister and I shared- out of old curtains (ala Scarlett O'Hara - more on that in a bit) and it was so much nicer than anything one could purchase. How she took me to see Gone With the Wind only AFTER I had read the book - so I would know that the story was different and better in the book. Or how she painstakingly made a true southern belle ball gown, which included pantalettes and a hoop skirt, for a college costume party. Or how she never minded when we used that huge box of old curtains to play some silly make believe game - indeed she encouraged it. How she taught us to sew so we could make clothes for the doll and furnish her cardboard dream house with slip covered sanitary pads and canopy beds made from government cheese boxes. How I think to myself, looking at some doll clothes or craft pieces - as she must have, I could do that, and better! When it comes to craftiness we each inherited some piece of her fingers' magic. Each of us, in our own way, is incredibly creative and talented.

Or how she almost fell on the floor laughing on the day of my 10th birthday when I discovered the dog had managed to eat most of the birthday cake she had made for me while we were eating my birthday dinner. I did not think it funny at the time and was crying hysterically and she (and bro and sis) could not stop laughing - till finally I had to join them, it was pretty funny seeing the dog with all the icing on his face.

How she one time made a care package complete with cookies for my sister while she was away at college - big heart-shaped linzer tart kinds with heart cut outs - she packed them so carefully. I know she wished she could have done that (and more) all the time... but it was fun when she did get to do it.

There were so many crazy moments - the dog jumping out of the car on the Grand Central Parkway on the way to Nana's, the Llamas at the game farm, our first trip into NYC to see the lights at Christmas, the attacking swans at argyle lake, the four foot tall bunnies, the annual tree decorating (always forcing us to remember that in the early years she did it all by herself on Christmas eve - including wrapping all the gifts and slipping them under the tree) and her admonishments that the tinsel be set perfectly strand by strand, then waking us up by shaking the bells all in the mistaken belief that if she woke us up in the middle of the night - rather than have us wake her in the morning - she would get to sleep later. I don't know that that ever worked out quite the way she wished. Even with the scant presents we got we were always so excited - then there was the year she (stupidly) put Kazoos in all our stockings............ or the year I got puzzle glue but no puzzle. I suppose my brother always managed to come up with some funny way of celebrating.. a smelly boot or a gift hidden in the tree branches. Mom always loved a good gift joke that way. Her desire to make people happy - at least in the way she thought she would make them happy - caused her to stress about it in the worst way, so she never really understood how much happiness she did give. Every Christmas we made Ravioli - hundreds of them. I don't think that I have ever eaten a meal that filled us up as much as her Ravioli. She was capable of so many things - such great acts of love.

I know in every mother's life there are a million moments that are special to her children- I also know that the picture of my Mom is so much more than I can paint. I loved her very much - and I know in my heart that she loved us all. I think she would be proud of all of us and how we are making our way in life - I know she would adore EFP and be proud of our little family just as I know that she adored my sister and her family and as much as she complained about the distance between us, it was only because she wanted to be there everyday with those two amazing children. I know also that she would be pleased that our brother also seems to have found a sense of family and some happiness with his wife and two children.

She had known a great many people, helped some of them in their hard times but hardly anyone really knew her. I know that there are people who miss her - maybe not as much as we do - but miss her a great deal. I wish there was a way I could make her clear to people - clearer even to me. I miss being able to talk with her.... knowing that whatever I said she would be on my side and offer what comfort she had. Tonight I sent DH to the store and had him get a chicken which I turned into soup... at first I thought it was simply because I have been so sick and EFP likewise and that the soup would make us both feel better. I guess I wasn't thinking then (baby really sick and screeching, battling a migraine, gone without sleep for days on end and feeling like I have been run over by a mack truck) that it was because of today's importance. Of course it was. Whenever I was feeling bad (physically or emotionally) my Mom would show up with a pot of chicken soup - if you were my DH she would show up with eggplant (hmmrph!) and all would be well again for a little while.

This isn't the kind of tribute I wish for her - I don't know if I am the right person to do that. I am her first born, therefore the least objective, though it seems right to try. I wish to remember her from when I was really little - in that way that children have of looking up at their parents - we were sitting under a Japanese Maple Tree and it was afternoon... I thought she was so very pretty and smart. What child doesn't think that about their mom? I think it is also the time of year... for me November is a time to reflect and then we head into the holiday season. This year more than ever I feel the weight of my immense gratitude for all I have and yet the unbearable loss - how the one person I most would want to share this with is both the person that made it possible and the person who will never share in my joy.

I can't say all that is in my heart tonight. I am sad - I miss her most when I have questions about being a Mom or when I have some triumph to share about my amazing child. She wouldn't have appreciated my giving EFP a form of her name - but the threads that connect us - red or otherwise - are so long and tangled, and I still feel so connected to her - call them the ties that bind or the fabric of family, or whatever, but I feel my Mom very close to me this evening and I hope she is proud, knows how well we loved her and finally has some peace.

RVK - March 11, 1942 - December 5, 2003


Sue G said...

My thoughts and prayers are with you. Also, hope you all feel better soon!
Lets talk soon.

LaLa said...

I am so sorry for your loss. I lost my mom in July '02 (2 months after my wedding..your photo is too precious) and it really is a heartbreaking loss. There are so many times I wish she was here to see Annslee : ) We are truly blessed with our memories..good, bad and funny

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