A friend of mine just lost her mother. I know how big of a loss she is feeling. It’s a wound that time doesn’t take care of; it’s a void nothing on earth can fill. My mother passed away six years ago and in a couple of days it would have been her 96th birthday. But, I don’t just remember her on her birthday or mother’s day. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of her because she wasn’t just my mother, she was my best friend. I know I write plenty of blogs about her “eccentricities.” My mother was one of a kind. She was a real life, sit-com character. You couldn’t make her up. She was the best mother she knew how to be, she loved my brother and I more than anything. Did she make some mistakes? You bet she did, but she came from a dysfunctional family and it changed who she was. Does that excuse some of her behavior? Not really, but it sure helped me to understand why she did the things she did. She was/is my mother, I love her unconditionally and took the good with the bad. A lot of who I am today, I owe to her; and people seem to like me, so she must have done something right. I even like myself.
My mother did her best to parent, but she also wanted to be a “best” friend. I didn’t have many friends growing up. I chalk it up to my shyness. I often confided everything to my mother. Most of the time she already knew what I was going to say because she was a mind reader. But all the time she had the right words on the tip of her tongue to console me, to satisfy my curiosity, to guide me on the right path. My mother was intelligent, though she was only allowed to attend school till 9th grade. She possessed wisdom and common sense. If I had a problem, I could count on her for advice knowing she would not steer me wrong. I could trust her because I knew deep down that all she ever really wanted was my happiness. I knew, without question, that there was nothing she wouldn’t do for my brother and I, if it was in her power.
My mother was possessive and protective of us. She didn’t believe in “letting go” or pushing us out of the nest. I often joked that when I married and left home the telephone cord replaced the umbilical cord. She would call every morning and every night after dinner and sometimes in between. She could be too much at times, but that was her way and no one was going to change it.
My mother needed to feel “needed.” That worked out pretty good for me and my brother. He always got home cooked meals and his laundry done. My family would get fed every Sunday. She would all of our tailoring and mending. She would baby sit for me any time of the day or night. There were times when money was tight and she would “help” without being asked. She never wanted us to worry about anything. As difficult as she may have made life from time to time, she also made sure other times weren’t such a struggle. That’s because we were the center of her world, and we knew it. There was no way she could hear of a problem and not try to fix it for us.
And that’s not to mention all the times she was there for us in childhood. Whenever we got sick, she never used a thermometer to take out temperatures, she used her lips. One little kiss on the forehead and she knew we had a fever. “It’s not so bad,” she would say. Other times “we were burning up” and she would call the doctor, who made house calls back in the day. All the while, she would wipe us down with alcohol to bring down the fever and make sure we were comfortable. We never had to ask for anything, she already knew and had it in her hand. She brought us medicine around the clock, made sure we had tissues and water and only had to get up to use the bathroom. I hardly remember what it felt like to be sick, but I do remember what it felt like to be cared for so lovingly.
My mother was the kind of mom who was always hugging us, kissing us and saying “I love you.” We knew she meant it, even those times when she didn’t act like it. We knew it was unconditional. She might get angry about something, but she wasn’t going anywhere. It was a bond that could never be broken. Even now, long after she has left this earth, I feel her with me. I hear her voice in my head. I see her eyes sparkle and gleam when she smiles. And, somehow I know, she is looking down and smiling at me right now.
Why? Because I finally got it. No one can ever replace a mother or her love. She used to say, “you won’t understand what it’s like to be a mother till you have children of your own.” And that is very true. And I also learned, you can’t understand what it’s like to lose a mother, until she is gone and you can’t get her back. I will always miss my mom. She was the best mother in the whole world…for me.