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Posts Tagged ‘loss’

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It is Mother’s Day this weekend.

I have been a mother for 18 years. Motherless for 44. My mother has been dead more years than she was alive. My children are older than I was when my mother died – they’ve already lived longer with their mother than I ever did.

And even after all these years, I am still conflicted about this day – this Mother’s Day holiday. For too long, it was solely a reminder of what I had lost. Now it is a celebration of my role as mother – but still a reminder of what I had lost. It’s a moment when I think about what might have been… what might I have learned… what might I have better understood about life and raising children. The “what ifs…” rise to the surface on this day, taunting me with questions that will never be answered.

My children are now all teenagers and there are times when it is pointed out that I am the most embarrassing thing to have happened to my children. Teen years are tough. I think they are almost tougher to observe as a parent than to endure as a teenager. My friends and I were so incredibly stupid and reckless as teenagers… (but those are stories for another time.) When I remember my teen years, I remember my friends. The teen years are the time when we move from being dependent children into the growing autonomy that comes with adulthood.

Not long ago, I realized that I have no idea what happens to the parent-child relationship after these teen years. I never had a relationship with my mother when I was a teenager – she died before I became one. And since my father died when I was 22, I never really had a relationship with any parent as a young adult. I graduated from college and became my father’s caretaker for his final days on earth.

Mother’s Day is bittersweet for me. The good news is that it’s moved beyond bitter to include the sweetness of watching my children grow up. I hope I get the pleasure of relating to my children in the near future as one adult to another.

That would be really something.

 

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We just got word that my Uncle Tim died today – he was elderly; he had been ill; his death was not unexpected.
He was married to my mother’s sister – both my mother and her sister died of cancer in their 40s many, many years ago. My Uncle Tim was the repository of stories about my mother’s family. I had wanted him to meet my children but he never did. I had some of the most hilariously funny times at his house when we visited him in Ireland over the years. But I have not been back in a long time.
My parents and all my aunts and uncles and their spouses are dead now. Tim was the only one alive for many years. It’s inevitable but sad all the same. The immigrant’s ties to the family back home are loosened by distance but the ties with Tim remained strong just the same. I was lucky to have Tim welcome us into his home every time we showed up with questions about the family we lost when we were so very young.

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I recently left the world of freelance for a job in an office. Love the work. Love the people I work with.

Hate the fact I’m not working in my basement any more. Hate the fact that I have to pack A LOT OF ACTIVITY into the weekends, activities I used to be able to spread out during the week. When you work for yourself in the basement, your time is truly your own.

When you work for a company, your time belongs to them. Such is the sacrifice we make for a regular paycheck with decent health benefits…

Thus I found myself last Saturday with two little girls and a vast list of chores to accomplish. And what I REALLY wanted to do more than anything was get a manicure so that I would look kind of groomed when I participated in a major client presentation the following Tuesday.

In dropping off my dry cleaning, I realized the nail salon was open ahead of schedule. I took a peak inside, and they said they’d polish my daughters’ nails for just $3.

A price point I could NOT resist.

Nora was gung-ho from the get-go.

Lindsey, usually the fearless one, wanted to stick to me. But when she saw the darling little flowers the manicurist had put on Nora’s nails, she wanted some of that for herself.

And thus I found myself having a mani-party with my daughters. I loved it. I never had the chance to get a manicure with my mother; but I’ve already had the chance to beautify myself with my girls.

It was a blast. An investment in a manicure that reaps enormous dividends in my memory. Looking forward to doing it again…

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I posted pix on FB recently – and a friend from HS, who I’ve reconnected with thanks to FB, made a comment that my son looks like my dad.

It was an innocuous comment that caught me off guard.

Yes, my son looks very much like my dad. But my father died more than a quarter century ago – and there are very few people I see in my day-to-day life who have any memory at all of my father. He simply does not exist for anyone I’ve met since 1984.

So to have someone note the resemblance my son has to my father is highly unusual. And it made me sad. My son is so very much like my father – but he’ll never really know that because he never got to know my father.

Memory matters. Our memories of people are very powerful. When you lose someone you love, you lose the ability to introduce that person to all the new people who enter into your life as time passes on. My friend’s comment on FB made me realize that my parents, so important to me, are completely absent in the lives and memories of most people I see everyday.

And I realized yet again that the tentacles of loss are very long.

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My mother died when I was 12. It was spring, a lovely day, sunny, warm, a bright day, filled with promise and renewal, the day she died.

It was gray, blustery, stormy, the day we buried her. Terribly windy. Rain came before the priest stopped talking at the grave. We rushed to our cars. I remember the slap slap slap of the windshield wipers as the black limo headed out on the long drive home.

The rain made it feel as if God was prolonging the joke. The joke that had been my mother’s death by cancer. The leeching of her energy, her beauty, her life over time, which is what cancer does.

Of course a storm would rage when we buried her. That’s how we felt, standing there at the grave, looking at her casket, raging with grief, wondering what life would hold for us.

The day I returned to school after her death, I remember sitting in the locker room. I was in 7th grade. All of us were shucking the blue bloomers we were forced to wear for gym, changing back into our school clothes. I remember Ellen S. – the girl voted “most likely to succeed” – a sweet, beautiful girl (the kind you’d want to be if you were stuck back in 7th grade again) – staring at me, tears in her eyes. (more…)

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