Monday, October 12, 2009

My Mom

 I wonder if the grieving process is different when the person we grieve for is also the person who could drive us the most crazy. The person who did more for you than anyone else and the person who could embarrass you like no one else. Had someone had known to warn me how deeply I would miss my mother when she was gone, I wouldn't have taken that warning to heart. I mean, of course I would miss her but I would be okay. I had already lost my dad, I knew how healing time could be. It has been over two years and I am realizing that I will never really get over her.

My mother kept a perfect house, she was never late to pick me up, never forgot an appointment. My life was predictable and orderly. She was affectionate and encouraging. I never went to bed without being kissed goodnight and told how much I was loved. She and my dad made my brother and me feel so good about being adopted that we felt sorry for our sister who was not.

She was older than the other moms which sometimes made me feel self conscious, she wore hats and red lipstick when neither were in fashion. She cheered loudly at our games, often while ringing cow bells. Her laugh was so loud that I would silently pray that friends visiting for the first time would not do or say anything funny.

Two years after my dad died, my mom remarried. Her and my (truly lovely) stepfather, Harry developed a passion for selling things at flea markets. Harry made some cool things with his wood burner and my mom knit beautiful sweaters. That wasn't enough for them. They realized they could take 'perfectly good things' that were thrown into dumpsters behind stores and sell them. When I questioned her about whether that was ethical (not to mention legal) she responded that it should be illegal to throw away perfectly good books, clothes or whatever. At a party we had, my mom and Harry regaled our guests with a story that included my mom laughing and saying " there I was holding Harry into the dumpster by his feet...."

My entire adult life, she complained that I didn't call often enough yet when I did she talked non-stop about things that I didn't care about. In her later years it was the health problems of her neighbors in her senior housing apartment. I couldn't convince her that Mabel's new diet wasn't really interesting to me.
When Kurt and I told her of our plans to adopt she happily said "Good, now you'll know what your father and I went through to get you kids". She meant it, it did give me a more realistic understanding of all they went through to become parents. It was very bonding to compare notes on the home study process and the waiting and wondering. About a week after telling her about our plans she called to let me know how much progress she was making on an afghan for her newest grandchild.

Just a little over a year after Mikias came home, she became very sick and was hospitalized while I was in Florida with Kurt and the kids. My sister called to say how poorly she was doing and thought I should head home early. When I arrived at the hospital, she smiled and said "It's about time you got here, I was waiting for you." and hugged and kissed me. Those were her last coherent moments and I am grateful I was there for them. My sister and I took turns staying with her around the clock and within three days she was gone.
I miss everything about her. I miss her voice, her scent, her loud laugh, her tight hugs. I miss hearing about her neighbors, I really do. I miss the sweaters and scarfs that she knit for us each Christmas and her famous hot fudge sauce.

I wish I could tell everyone who still has their parents to appreciate them, to call them more, to embrace the things that make them unique (and perhaps embarrassing). To savor every moment because the things that drive you nuts won't matter to you when they are gone but the rest of it will matter deeply.


  1. Mumma, this is beautiful! i love you so much! and can't wait to see you in 3 days!
    Madison :)

  2. Alison.... I am teary-eyed...she was a special Aunt, her organization and perfection were hard to beat..she remembered every special occasion without failure...and could she knit and cook! We were so happy when they adopted you so we could have Boynton cousins:) We need to get together!!
    Love you..Carole

  3. thank you for writing this...thank you for reminding me how important it is to cherish those that are here in the present. For the present is truly a gift. Luv U

  4. Alison, I am so sorry for your loss. I didn't know you two years ago, so I never told you. This is one of the things in life that I have yet to go through, and I dread it. Big hugs to you.

  5. Thank you for your beautiful words. I feel like I know her better. She would have been a wonderful great aunt if I'd had a chance to know her.

  6. Wow...thanks for this. I just had a long talk with my Mom today and was teasing her about how she goes on and on about people I don't know. "You remember David? He's the youngest son of that couple that lived near us when you were in Colorado and used to trim our trees? His daughter..." and on and on. I never met David, I have no idea about his daughter...but they're important in her world and so I listen.
    I often look around my house and think I've failed as a housekeeper. I work long hours - from home - or running out to client sites. I have a disability that, when it's cold and damp, makes some housekeeping tasks beyond painful - and a husband that just got a promotion and is working long hours too. Mom's house is always clean and smelling good - there was always something cooking or baking and she still had time to sit and talk. I have NO idea how our moms did it...