My mom was an amazing woman who left us too soon at the age of 60. This October will mark 7 years since her death from metastatic breast cancer. With each passing years, her absence has gotten easier to cope with. I have gotten used to her not being around but that doesn’t mean that I do not want my mother on a daily basis. If I think about it too hard, I can cry as if she just left us yesterday. Mother’s Day is hard for this reason because her absence is inescapable. Being a mom myself doesn’t really make the day easier on me because I feel like something is missing.
My mother worked as a nurse. She worked in emergency rooms, nursing homes, and as a visiting nurse. As a visiting nurse for many years, she traveled into some really rough parts of Philadelphia. I can remember her telling me about drug dealers watching her car while she went in to check on a patient. They knew why she was there and her patient, most likely, had watched that drug dealer grow up. No matter where my mom went, she could easily talk to anyone she met. She had a natural gift for storytelling and a great sense of humor. I can remember the sound of her voice and her laugh, this is a sound my son will never hear.
There are so many questions I would ask my mother if I could. Questions you can’t even fathom until you are actually raising kids of your own. I wonder if she ever had mastitis, how did she wean us, or put us to sleep, when did I start to get teeth, and when did I start to walk? Losing my father 6 weeks after having Orion, means these answers really are lost. I miss them both so much and see being a parentless parent as my biggest challenge as a mother. The ability to call my parents and ask questions, or just to vent and hear stories of how I was when I was that age, not to mention my child is denied the opportunity to spend time with his grandparents. With their death, I have lost part of my personal history and my son has lost part of his future.
When my father and I visited my brother in Okinawa in the spring of 2010 we got the chance to meet my brother’s wife and their 2 kids. I am so glad we got to spend that time together. My father was very excited to be a grandfather and I was happy to be an aunt. I remember we were in a store and my nephew was throwing a tantrum because he wanted these red shoes. My brother picked him up, put him over his shoulder, and marched him out of the store. My dad was laughing and crying because he could hear my mom saying that payback was a bitch. If only she had lived to witness this scene.
One of my earliest childhood memories is going to Ireland when I was four. At the time, my mom had a patient named Mary. Mary was paralyzed on one side of her body. Her dying wish was to go home to Ireland. My mother asked her employers if she could help Mary fulfill this wish. They said no, so she quit her job and took my brother, myself, my father, and Mary to Ireland. I remember the sunsets and wild horses, the ocean, and the experience of being so far from home for the first time. When I look back now, I’m amazed at my mother’s determination and compassion to help Mary complete her dying wish.
My mother lived her life on her own terms. Her sense of humor and style was uniquely her own. This was appreciated by all she met. She loved to shop, and had a knack for finding fabulous pieces in unexpected places. I am proud to be my mother’s daughter. I feel very lucky to have had the parents I had because they supported me, trusted me, and loved me. Raising children without them will be difficult but I trust in the job they did instilling such good values in me that I do believe I will do a great job raising my child without them.
Happy Mother's Day Mom! We all miss you so very much.
This picture was taken on my wedding, 6 days before my mother died.