Today I can’t stop thinking about my late mother. I don’t know why this is, as it is not her birthday nor the anniversary of her death. I think of her every day, and silently consult with her about almost any decision I make.
We lost her 45 years ago next month, on November 14th. She bravely battled Lupus from the time that I was an infant. As time passed and I started school, she taught me how to spell “disseminated lupus erythematosus”. She read to me from a dictionary or medical text or some such, and tried to explain what “invariably fatal” meant. I couldn’t accept it then and barely accept it now.
When I was little, and Mom was not feeling well, she would make a game of “crawling” up and down stairs with me, so that I could be safe. I don’t remember this myself, but Aunt Janette told me. I recall my poor mommy asking me to dust the ornate legs of our dining room table, and making it seem like the greatest, fun thing, to crawl around with the sweet-smelling dust rag. She would be short of breath as she reached the main floor of our home, carrying laundry, and she’d laugh at herself (or pretend to), so that nobody would worry.
I was a bratty teen at 13 to 14 and right up until the day Mom went into the hospital for the last time. I would give her backtalk and sometimes even ignore her when she wanted to talk, play duets on the piano, or teach me something at the sewing machine. When she tried to talk to me about boys, I snapped at her, thinking I was too smart to be “taken advantage of” on a date, and certainly smarter than an old mother. Perhaps she knew she wouldn’t have time later to discuss it.
So this has been my burden of guilt for forty-five years. If only, if only, if only. If only I had been a nice kid. If only I could have her back for one day, provided she was WELL. I have never known such a beautiful person, so well loved by everyone who knew her. She was no pushover, but I never heard her have a cross word with another person. She could pitch her case or register a complaint without any personal abuse. I even remember when she made a phone call to a teacher who had accused me, in grade 4, of taking credit for someone else’s poetry; Mom phoned the teacher and explained that she was working in the room while I composed every word. Such a small thing, among many of those small things that I remember.
What can a person do with this kind of adoration and guilt? All I do is strive to be a good person without being a pushover, as my mother was. It is the finest compliment when her remaining siblings, my beloved aunt and uncles who are now elderly, say that I resemble her and even sound like her. To be without her seems more real and more painful today than it did when I was busy being a teen (no less bratty after losing Mom), or occupied as a wife and mother.
I was so lucky to have that lady as my Mommy. I was also fortunate to have a stepmother who adapted and cared (and guided with a clever and sarcastic demeanor), but that is another story. I am glad to be 59 years old and in fantastic health (as far as I know).
Today’s date is actually much closer to the calendar date that my dad died, a relatively short time ago. I guess I will write to you about him another day, as he was also a sterling individual, but I have fewer regrets and had more time with him to atone for my behaviour and faults.