Saturday, June 27, 2009

June 27th: Mother’s Day

My mother would have been 82 today.

Edith_obit_brochure_front_nolastname

In a word, Mom was feisty. It was often said that when Edith walked into a room, that room became Edith. Yes, she adored being the center of attention, but I believe that even if she hadn’t craved the attention, it would have come her way anyway because she was simply one of those people who turned heads – not because of her beauty (although she was beautiful – more so as she got older and believed herself to be less so!), but because of her indomitable spirit.

The problem with living the death of a loved one is that the memory of that death often over-shadows the memory of that life. Because of the intensity of my last week with mom (which I chronicled in my journal), my first thoughts of her often land in that week when she asked if she was dying on Monday and breathed her last tiny breath the following Sunday. I hate that the memory of death is so disturbingly pervasive. I think that’s the reason why we so often see slideshows of loved ones’ lives at memorials. Here’s Mom’s:

When I reach further back than the very end, a life full of memories comes to me. At mom’s memorial, I spoke about the three different roles Mom played in my life. She was my mother, of course. Then, when we traveled together much later in our lives, she became very much like a sister, and finally, as she began to lose her fight with cancer (a fate that she never admitted or accepted until her very last days), she became more like a daughter.

By her own admission, Mom wasn’t exactly maternal. I don’t have memories of lots of hugs and kisses or lap-sitting and story-telling with her. But she loved her family ferociously and I never doubted that. Ever.

After she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, Mom and I traveled together to Bavaria, where she grew up, and in the span of those two weeks we became equal partners, more like sisters than mother and daughter. I loved that time, but it was short-lived, as her cancer returned with a vengeance the following year and I was suddenly thrust into more of a maternal role with her. And by the end, by the last week of her life, the one I can’t purge from my head, I stroked her head like the mother of a feverish child and watched her curl into a ball and fade away in front of me.

Unfortunately, that’s the memory that stays with me – all too pervasive and undeserving of such prominence.

Today, on Mom’s birthday, I have decided to remember her life instead of her death. I am choosing to remember my feisty and ferociously protective mother as she was. She was this to me:

MomandMeXmas58sh_nofp

…and this to me…

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…and this to me…

Omiandme72

…and this to me…

Omi and Carol Xmas 01Abrighter

and because a story is a story till the very end, she was this to me:

MotherDaughterMotherA

But mostly, I think, she was this to me:

OmiCaroldance

Happy birthday, Mom. I miss you every single day.

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6 comments:

Chris Heumann said...

Nice comments and descriptions. The video still makes me cry... more so now than it did during the days I made it. Music does amazing things.

You wrote that she wasn't a snuggly mom, but I do remember her being that way to me. Sitting in her lap or at her feet in the car... perhaps cuz I was youngest did she become more that way with age.

Anonymous said...

mourning is a process and it is good when the time begins that one can remember more of the good times, and pictures, than the "bad" times and have a sense of happiness when you think of the one you have lost

Margaret said...

My mom is a feisty little Italian lady, and those kind of people are the hardest to lose to ravaging diseases like cancer. It seems like you are starting to think more about your mom's life than her death. The video was lovely and haunting; in many of the photos, there is an eerie resemblance to you!

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

Carol, your mother was clearly a remarkable woman who lived a full, lusty life.

I will echo what anonymous said - at least that was my process with the loss of my sister. For a long time, I could only remember the end, and the illness, but now I remember the happy memories, and the end has thankfully faded into the distance (I lost her in 1997, and I think the transition, for me, started a couple of years ago).

Grandma L said...

The video was beautiful. What a wonderful memorial to your mother. Til you meet again, and it will be better than we ever thought it could be.

Rositta said...

My mother died two years ago, the day before Mother's Day. I try really hard to think of all the really good times we had together but what creeps into my mind almost daily, is the last night of her life when I crawled into the hospital bed with her and held her in my arms until she died. She was in a coma but I sure hope she could feel me. It is a memory that will haunt me forever...ciao

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