My mother was born May 21, 1943, which would have made her 69 today. I’m always floored every time I remember that she was born during WWII. The turmoil of the world. The persecution of the Jews. The terror that must have lived in the hearts of so many. And how much the world has changed in 69 years. Or, for that matter, hasn’t changed.
Mom was the youngest of eight children. There were four boys and four girls. Two of the boys died while they were very young and then another brother passed away well into adulthood. He died of a massive heart attack and while I’m not sure of his exact age I would guess that he was in his late 50’s or early 60’s. So, for mom to die at a fairly young age – and seemingly healthy at that – well, it was shocking. Unbelievable. Ridiculous. I know I’ve explained the challenges of our relationship in the past but it doesn’t make me miss her any less. I miss her more than I can say.
One of her greatest pleasures in life was gardening. She was AMAZINGLY skilled. She was so talented at having a vision in her mind and making it come to life. She was wise enough to know that by planting something today that in a few years it would be stunning as it covered an arbor or armillary or whatever she was training it to cover. Her gardens were beautiful. I went home not too long ago and stood in the glass conservatory of her cottage in German Village just staring out at her beautiful creation. I couldn’t help but cry as I thought about the fact that someone else was going to own her gardens. My dad has sold their house and I won’t have the luxury of seeing it whenever I travel home. I probably won’t ever get to see it again. So, a lot of pictures were taken so I can remember it as it was. I understand my dad’s need to move on. The need for change. But it’s still a loss I’m not quite ready to deal with. I do know, however, that the new owner is in love with mom’s yard and will hopefully make every effort to maintain it to mom’s standards.
Even though mom passed away at a fairly young age, I’m grateful that I had her for as long as I did. Despite our difficulties there will always be moments of my thinking “Hey! I want to tell mom!” only to remember that she’s no longer here, which nearly always breaks my heart. I will always remember building frog houses in the sand with you. The joy on your face when I told you I was expecting Ben. The 9’s that you cut out of the funny pages and hung from my canopy bed for my ninth birthday. Your exasperation while trying to teach me how to drive a stick-shift. The yellow flowers you added to your garden just for me. Taking me to buy my first bra. Picking out 8-track tapes together from the Columbia House Record and Tape Club flyer. The moment you discovered I had a tattoo. That trip to Boston when I was 12. Doing our annual Christmas Day movie marathon together. And helping me take care of Ben and Madeline when Ben was so desperately sick.
I DO remember the good times, Mommy. And I appreciate all the sacrifices you made for me, even if I acted like a typical teenager who didn’t give a crap. I’m sorry for that.
Regardless, I miss you a whole real lot. Happy Birthday, Mom. You were certainly one of a kind. <3