I sometimes wonder how my mom would have changed if she had the time to age. I’d like to believe it would have been a graceful process, one that involved my dad, me and Rich, and getting to know her grandkids. It’s one of life’s greatest mysteries when someone is taken so much younger then the rest of there generation. Many of her friends have been living the life she ought to have had, had cancer not taken her so soon.
The most cherished trait I have acquired from my mom is empathy, the ability to understand share the feelings of others. She was by far one of the kindest souls I’ve had the fortune of knowing, and if you ever met someone who knew her, it’s quite possible that her thoughtfulness would be one of the first things they would mention. Her sweetness was also her Achilles heel. Sensitive to the core, she would never consider harming another human being. And on the rare occasion when an intention was misunderstood, she suffered with self-inflicted guilt for days from the infraction, no matter how minute. She was a worry-wart, a trait I’ve sucessfully shed from my emotional repertoire.
I’ve been dreaming about her a lot lately. Lucid dreams that feel all too real, the kind of dreams that are painful to exit because they leave a stronger mark of loss when you wake. Bittersweet as they may be, rife with emotion and zeal, I’ll take them for however long they choose to linger in my psyche, offering a closeness to my mom that I haven’t felt in nearly 18 years.
I recently scrapbooked all the notes and cards she and my dad sent to me, including the jotted handwritten notes enclosed in college care packages. I strongly suspect Mom single-handedly supported Hallmark during the late 70s and 80s for all the cards she sent to family and friends, near and far. I’m a fan of snail mail. And for awhile I, too, thought it might be a dying art. I was relieved to find out that I’m not alone in my letter writing, it appears that my fellow Americans still buy about 6.5 billion cards each year for birthdays and Christmas.
Today is my mom’s birthday. She would have been 90. I’ve been thinking about her all day struggling with what to write to honor her memory flustered by the passage of time, these last 18 years and more potently the last 23 hours evaporating around me.
Happy birthday Mom, I think of you always.
9/19/28 – 1/23/00