To quote Dickens, “It was the best of times and it was the worst of times” these last ten years since my mother passed away. “The best” moments involved my own children growing up during this time; “the worst” is that they are doing so without her.
All the events that take place in a decade – the birthdays, graduations, holidays, dance recitals, soccer and baseball games – are things I wish she could have attended, but I do believe in my heart that she has been there all the time in spirit. Still, it’s not the same for my children who wish their grandma was there to hug, kiss, and to praise them.
Mom was one of three sisters, and we lost them over this time as well (Aunt Margie passing a few months before her and Aunt Ruth passing in 2015). The three sisters were such a team – though each had friends they were each other’s best friends. Their unbreakable bond was such that even in sickness and eventually death they were connected.
Many years ago when I went to my young nephew’s party, one of his friends saw my Mom and aunts getting out of the car and he said, “Your three grandmas are here.” In essence only one of them was his grandmother, but they all loved their nieces and nephews so much that it seemed as if they were all grandparents to them.
Besides the obvious things I miss about Mom, there are all those moments shared between mother and son – indelible minutes and hours where she and I spoke, laughed, hugged, and cried. During good and bad times Mom always would listen, would never judge, and offered advice in a gentle and loving way – usually I took it.
Then there are those times before I can remember, those intimate mother and child ones that I wish had been recorded in my mind if not on film. I have enough still photographs, ones showing the love in her eyes and the pride in her smile. I know how much she loved me, and the vacant feeling in my heart that her loss created has not been assuaged even after ten years. I doubt it ever will.
Still, this is Mother’s Day which means it is not about me – it is about my wife, the mother of my children, and the sadness inside me will have to stay there quietly because we are celebrating her today (and all the other members of the family who are mothers). I will make merry with them because I know the integral role a mother plays in a family and how a mother takes a house and makes it into a home, and that should be celebrated.
On this day I miss Mom, her sisters, and my grandmothers – they were all strong women, yet loving and gentle in their strength. Each affected my life in so many tangible ways, but perhaps the intangible ones are the most lasting – the evanescence of their hugs and kisses and laughter hangs in the air all around me.
I always tell my kids that “Grandma is watching over you,” and I do believe that as much today as I did ten years ago. I know that she is with me, and in fleeting moments I feel her in a room – a cool draft or the scent of her perfume. One time a few months after she died, I walked into her bedroom to look for something and her stereo went on – Nat King Cole began singing “Unforgettable” (one of her favorite songs), and I knew Mom was there with me.
Other times outdoors it can be wind chimes followed by a ladybug landing on my arm. Mom always told me to make a wish and blow the ladybug away and it will come true. This has happened often enough over the years, and some of my lady bug wishes have come true. I like knowing Mom keeps sending those ladybugs my way.
I did go to her grave and place flowers there, and I know that she is not there, but I do this out of respect as my father taught me. She is here; she is there, and she is truly everywhere, and I take comfort in that. I still miss her terribly, and ten years and even ten more after that will not stop me from missing Mom; that is forevermore just like her love.