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My Blog

Are You My Mother?

Well, good morning to you all.  Hope your day is great.  I want to thank you for visiting and taking time to read my blog.  Blogging is an interesting way of journaling, meditating, reflecting and getting inspiration.  I use it for all of those reasons.  Hopefully, my writing skills will grow and I will finally write the books that I would like to pen.  Funny how we would use that phraseology to writing, since these days everything is on a computer. 
Anyway, on to my story.  If you haven't guessed...it is a story about my mother and myself.  Growing up in the city of Chicago, I was the only child of a so-called divorced family.  My mother and I lived with my Grandparents.  Now my mother had to go to work to support me and herself.  She and I were very fortunate to have had a roof over our heads and food on the table, not to forget to mention, live in baby sitters. 
It was often confusing recognizing my mother as actually my mother.  She worked so many hours, that I hardly ever got to see her.  The Big trips were the memories that stuck in my head, the moments that I got to work with her for her job were the others.  But the everyday, mundane moments, which in actuality were not all that mundane...belonged to my grandparents, especially my grandmother.  She was really who I considered my mom.  It was the day in and day out sort of life that makes that feeling occur in a child.  It isn't the gifts or the good times.  It was the lessons learned, the tasks assigned, the skinned knees that got washed and got Band-Aids put on.  The sharing of meals, etiquette, stories shared, nighttime monsters chased away.  It was the days of illnesses, the comfort of someone who listened to the boy that broke your heart.   For me, unfortunately, my mother was not part of that equation.  She was the one who paid for the private schools, paid for the singing lessons, paid for the pretty clothes and shoes.  My mother made sure that I never lacked for anything...except for the ability to be there for the times a child needed a mom!  Now, don't misunderstand, I don't fault her now for her lack of appearances, but while I was growing up...I sure did! 
I even used to look at pictures of myself and my aunt and think that somehow perhaps something happened and I was really my aunts daughter.  We even had the same sort of health issues. When I got married, even my mother -in-law used to question whether I really came from my family, because my demeanor was so different.  I really questioned it...Are you really my mother?
But today, many years later, it is obvious that she indeed was my mother. I look just like her know...it is that..."oh my, is that my mother in the mirror" sort of thing! 
I always felt different from all the rest of the children.  They all seem to have what appeared to be normal families.  I on the other hand didn't!  I missed out a lot on special events, because I either didn't have a father, or my mother was at work for the mother - daughter events.  But I was grateful for my grandmother.  She was a very important part of my growing up.  I often sit back today and ponder back on how different it really was.  I listened to Dean Martin, Perry Como and Bing Crosby...just some of grandma's favorites.  My own record albums were handed down from my 10 year older cousin...so I listened to Doris Day, Paul Anka, Ricky Nelson instead of the Beatles, Herman's Hermits and whoever else was popular at the time.  Instead of going to concerts, I went to the theater and saw musicals.  My life was very different, but at the same time...so wonderful.  I got to experience so much more because of it. 
As years went by and I married, my children grew and a daughter had a little girl and well, history somewhat repeated itself.  There I was raising this wonderful, precious small child.  She may have been my granddaughter, but truly was my child in every sense of the word.  I finally began to understand how my mother and grandmother must have felt.  I know that this little girl looked up to me as her mom.  I was there for those first few years...and my being older...gave me such an advantage!  I understood that cleaning the house wasn't as important as sitting on a swing and reading a book.  I knew the importance of working with her everyday and building skills that she would carry through for the rest of her life.  And my poor daughter...for those years, she worked hard at trying to secure a life for herself and her daughter as my mother did for me.  Now let me tell you...there were many tense moments that occurred because of this relationship, as I am sure now there must have been between my own mother and grandmother. 
What I do know is that as I have grown older, I understand the sacrifices. 
When my mother passed away...I was on the other side of the country.  My mother was in the hospital in Nevada and I was in South Carolina with my daughter who had just had a baby and her life was in danger for the next 6 weeks due to complications with the pregnancy and birth.  My mother passed away the same week my granddaughter was born.  It was a horrible time for everyone.  I know that one night I went out on the porch of my daughter's home and sat on the rocking chair.  I cried my heart out.  It wasn't because of my mother having died, but because I couldn't recall any memories of her.  Not the real, deep, intimate kind. My grandmother just kept coming to my mind.  I was so angry and mad all over again.  My heart was so broken.  My mother's wishes were to be cremated, and since she had already passed, I didn't need to rush across the country.  I planned a memorial for her much later in the year. 
What I did do is ask for her friends to write me a letter or note about my mother.  I had months to contemplate what they had shared and re-evaluate our lives together as mother and daughter.  I was grateful  for the time to reflect on the things I had written...It was a real revelation to me.  My mother was human after all.  I finally began to understand why she did all those things that I disliked her for.  She was a scared, frightened woman.  She seemed so tough on the exterior, but was a mess inside.  She had dreams just like we all do, but hers tuned into nightmares and she was trying to make sure my life didn't turn out the same.  She was protecting me.  It wasn't until her death that I found out who my mother really was.  I have looked back every day since she is gone, finding more and more answers about her. 
Four years later, I received a few of her belongings.  It was like opening a diary.  It told so much about her.  The colors of her costume  jewelry told me her favorite colors. this was one of the things I lamented over not knowing,   Not to mention her style!  The women's earrings were all hoops..wide and big hoops!  But the thing that really shocked me was all the things that she had held onto through the years that I had made for her.  It was almost like a Hallmark commercial, you might know the one...where the parents are moving and the girls find their fathers cards that he kept through the years.  That was how it felt to see all the things my mother kept.  It spoke volumes to me.  She never verbalized any feelings about anything.  She kept it all wrapped up inside.
The hardest thing I had to face in my mothers death was that when she was cremated...her so called husband never even gave her a proper container.  I received her ashes in a plastic bag.  So, as decorative painter, I painted her a final resting place.  I painted a wooden jewelry box with a special golden heart with a rose in the middle. This rose was significant because the last conversation I had with her was that she was a great grandmother again and that my daughter had given her daughter the middle name of Rose, the same as my mothers.  
When my mother and I spoke, I always questioned her about coming home.  Her response was always....someday!  Even when we looked for a house, I always looked for one with an extra room on the main floor so that when the time came, she would have an easily accessible room.  Well, the someday...finally arrived.  My mother now has a place of honor in my home.  I get to know that she is finally at peace. 
I didn't realize how much she really had done for me...oh not in the things that she bought through the years, but her actions had made me into the woman I have become.  I am strong!  Stronger than I ever thought I could be.  It has helped me to get through some pretty tough times, on many levels. But it also taught me to share who I am.  She taught me to open the doors for others to see.  I don't ever want my family or friends to not know the real me.  My favorite color or my favorite flower.  I want them to know the whole me, both the strong and the weak.   
So in the end, I suppose that even though I didn't think she had played a big part in my life, I realize now, that she truly did.  It is hard to accept that it took this many years to sit down and be able to appreciate it.  All I can say now is Thanks MOM and pray that she hears it. 
So, if I were to give any advice to anyone..it would be to try to take a moment and look at your mom, and then look at yourself.  Ask the question...Are you my MOM?  and then find the true answers.

1 Comment to Are You My Mother?:

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Jeani on Wednesday, August 14, 2013 5:39 PM
My dear,sweet friend..... Looking back on life reminds each of us of the trials that we faced....many times, memories are so bitter-sweet. Looing back, though, I hope you realize that not for one second were you ever alone....through everything, God was with you and will continue to always be there! Yes, life had its ups and downs....yes, there were troubles...but sometimes it takes decades for us to really realize each of our blessings....and that even in the darkest of hours He was with us! Love you soooooo much!
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