The Memories My Mother Left With Me
I try to imagine what it must have felt like for my mom in her early 40s to find out she was terminally ill around this time of the year in 1987. I cannot imagine what that conversation was like for my parents. I can’t imagine what that visit was like at the doctor. I am about the age she was then. She had two children at the time. I have two children. Mother’s Day and her birthday would both be coming up in May, and school would be letting out with the summer approaching. I imagine this is when most families start planning their vacations or summer camp routines.
I was your average middle school kid in seventh grade, going about my life. I suspected something was up back in fourth grade. There was a mole on the back of Mom’s thigh, or “something like that” that wasn’t “OK.” I knew my Gram came and stayed with us while Mom went to the hospital for a while. I knew Mom was super brave when part of her skin from one leg was taken off to grow on the part of her thigh that had the “mole.” She was brave, to say the very least.
Then life went back to “normal.” Mom was Mom. She took care of us. She was everywhere. She was at school, she brought the teacher’s “stuff” and she always made sure I was OK at school. She was involved in everything. She knew everyone. She was just that kind of lady. She showed up for all my events. She knew my friends and knew my friends’ parents. She knew all of my neighbors and talked to everyone. She loved to talk and laugh. She had a thick head of red hair and big blue eyes. She was hard to miss. If she thought something wasn’t “OK,” or that someone needed something, Mom took care of it. (I think she hid wings somewhere in the back of her clothes.)
Mom was a former English and History teacher. She gave it all up to raise her children and be with us. When I walked home from the bus stop, she stood at the storm-door waiting and watching for me. I saw the red hair first, then our two dogs, Tippy and Taffy, who waited for me, too. Mom always had “General Hospital” on the little TV in the kitchen with a pot of something on the stove. She also had an after-school snack ready for me. Mom loved “General Hospital, she was friends with the writer, Gloria Monty. Mom wrote to her and vice-versa.
This is what I can’t remember about Mom: I can’t remember one Mother’s Day. I really don’t. I don’t remember celebrating birthdays either — her’s or mine. I see photo’s, but I don’t have an actual memory.
My Mom passed away November 14th of that same year — 1987. As I type this, I try to imagine leaving my kids and I well up with emotion. I can’t even fathom it. How incredibly brave Mom was from beginning to end. How hard it must have been for her, and she didn’t show it. Not once that I remember. If anything, she tried her hardest to make it OK for us. She was worried about us.
On this Mother’s Day, I salute all the mothers who work hard every day and night making memories for their children, just like Mom did for me. Those memories really count. It is the everyday memories that matter. On days when you may feel you’re not “hitting the mark,” I hope you read this today as a firm reminder you are. You are.
Happy Mothers Day.
In Memory of,
Audrey Elizabeth 1943-1987
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Thinkstock photo by rosapompelmo