It has been over 10 years since my mother passed away. I remember thinking soon thereafter that, I would never forget a thing about her.
However, time changes that. Slowly, little-by-little, memories are forgotten. It’s the opposite of what one might think however; it’s the big things that I forget.
The grand gestures leave me more quickly than anything else. I don’t recall what her “go to meals” were anymore; you know, the things that she cooked best, and most often. I don’t remember her favorite television shows. I don’t remember the
kind of things she laughed at (unless it was something I did-I could always
make her laugh). No, for some reason it’s the small things that I remember.
For instance, I was maybe eleven or twelve years old when we were dressed up for some occasion, and my father pulled the car to the door. I remember grabbing at the handle to put myself into the backseat, when my mother told me, “Always get the door for a lady.” I did, and I still do; always, always, thinking of that moment when I do so. Although the admiration I have towards women alone would be a grateful gift if it was indeed the sole bequeathment; but, that is not all I gleaned from my mother.
My mother also tried to instill in me the importance of learning. You see, my father never finished high school, and my mother did just barely; so I was filled with great pride when I received my acceptance letter to a university. I remember her beaming. She could have lit the entire city with the fervor used to call all of my family and her friends. Not only was she happy I was
attending college, but she was even more pleased because I was doing so on a
Oh how my mother loved to hear me sing. One of her greatest joys (and at the time, one of my greatest annoyances) was to hear me sing. I was a classically
trained singer (opera, theatre, etc.), and I practiced all the time. It didn’t matter where I was, or what was going on; more likely than not, if I was around I was singing. Except, of course, around my mother.
She was my greatest fan. It didn’t matter if I was flat, or went sharp. It didn’t
even matter if I knew the words. She loved to hear me sing. Maybe it was just the awkwardness of being a teenager, but I hated how she acted when I would sing. And the more she praised me, the less I would sing around her. What I wouldn’t give now to hit that fifteen year old me in the face for being like that. I would give anything to share something I love with the woman I loved most.
I feel that at this point I should tell you that my mother was a heavyset
woman. She struggled with her weight her entire adult life. That being said, I
was too young, too impetuous, and too self-absorbed when I was in high school,
and she overheard me making fun of some overweight person one day. I couldn’t forget the hurt upon her face if I tried. I remember that she told me how unnecessary what I was saying was. How cutting my words were. And how much it disappointed her to hear what I was saying. She asked me how I would feel if someone had said those things about her, and immediately I was enraged at the thought. Then, just as abrupt, she walked off, and I immediately understood that she dealt with hearing others say those same things under their breath about my mother. It was one of the few times in my life that I instantaneously regretted something I had said.
Now, don’t misunderstand me. I’m not trying to say that I never joke around, or that I don’t make fun of things, situations, or people; nevertheless, the difference now is that I know where the line is, and I try my damndest not to cross it.
Something else I try not to do is clean. Growing up in my house, Saturday was cleaning day. Every Saturday for as long as I can remember my sister, my brother and I had to clean the entire house. Like any other kid, I hated it. What made it
worse, was waking up to the smell of pinesol, and other cleaning materials. When I started working regularly (around the age of thirteen), I noticed that if I had to work Saturday at my job, I didn’t have to help clean the house. Guess who
requested every Saturday morning to work? But I didn’t get off entirely.
There were a few Saturdays in which I was still there. Actually, my fondest memory of my mother is when it was just her and I cleaning.
My brother and sister were gone for whatever reason, and it was just my mother and I. We cleaned the house, but not quite as well as we used to. I was making her laugh the entire time, and things were being skipped over, and for once she
didn’t care. And for once I didn’t mind singing around her. We finished up cleaning when I took her in my arms and started dancing and singing to her. That is my “go to” memory of her. Laughing, dancing, and so in love with her child.
The years between that day and her death flew by. And nearly every day I have to ask myself, “How would she feel if she knew I did this?” I don’t always pick
the right path, but it does give me pause, thinking about whether or not my
mother would have been proud of my choices.
For whatever reason, I was there when she died, and a small part of me always
blames myself for not having been able to save her. And today, I hate being without her. I was as close to her as I think any mother and child could be. I confided in her, and when I was old enough, she confided in me.
There are so many joys and sorrows that I wish I could have shared with
her. Sometimes I try to still. Every now and then, I go back and forth about
whether or not I believe in heaven. But when I miss her most-that unique laugh, that smile-I have to believe, because it’s the only way I’ll be able to dance with that wonderful woman again.