This year is eight years. How can it be eight years since I have heard my mom’s voice, seen her smile, shared a laugh with her. How can it be eight years since I have giddily gobbled her homemade pierogis or sat at her table being comforted by my imperfectly perfect mom? How can it be eight years since I have shared a full-on “Lorac laugh attack”? Or been involved in a highly competitive, wine fueled game of scrabble? How can it be eight years since I’ve seen her hug and love my babies while plying them with sweets or anything butter filled?
Eight years, it feels like eternity and yesterday all at once.
Those “babies” of mine, well they are now tweens and teens and their true memories of my mom are pretty fuzzy at this point. This brings tears to my eyes and absolute sorrow to my heart. To know that my babies will never really, truly remember their “Grandma-ma” as she lovingly referred to herself. They don’t remember her hugs, her kisses, her snuggles, her version of “Round and Round the Garden goes the Teddy Bear” or her loud giddy filled “Peek-A-Boos” which quite frankly, bordered on obnoxious. They don’t remember her coffee breath singing a totally off key version of “Country Roads” for an early nap time. They don’t remember her dryer blankies engulfing them after an afternoon splashing in the lake outside her home. They don’t remember the absolute peace that poured over them when they laid in Grandma-ma’s arms.
Why, there’s a whole part of me that they simply don’t know without knowing the woman that made me who I am. Don’t get me wrong, I am tirelessly keeping her memory alive. Some days this is easier than others. There have been times when these stories bring me to tears right in front of my kids. At first, the tears frightened them and so I tried to hide them. Then I noticed in trying to hide my sadness, I wasn’t sharing stories of my ma with them. Her memory was fading and I realized that was no way to honor the woman that made me who I am. And so, tears or no tears, I have decided to continue to share these stories with the caveat that I miss my ma and sometimes I cry and that is okay. As the years continue to climb, I find myself more consistent in sharing stories of my “ma” with my kids. Oh and the stories, let’s just say I won’t run out of material anytime soon.
Oh ma, how I wish you were here to see your grand babies grow up. I wish you were here to help me be the kind of ma you were. I wish you were here to help me be the kind of wife you were. I wish you were here to soften me, you always had that ability to soften my edges. Even me out.
It’s taken me a long time to realize a piece of you, or many pieces of you are right here with me. Why I see you in all of my kids. I see you in my middle kid, her soft personality, her big love, her sharp wit – her utter inability to get song lyrics right! I see you in my son, when he competitively eats the homemade pierogis I make, and yes he keeps count just like his Grandma-ma and whines of a belly ache promptly after, again just like Grandma-ma! He also exhibits classic Grandma-ma traits when he can’t hold back a laugh attack in a church pew or some other wildly inappropriate place. And I see you in my Little E – when she laughs, she smiles or when she shouts some obscure Jeopardy answer across the room – some little known fact about Billie Jean King or Arthur Ashe! Ha.
Eight years is an eternity to be without your best friend, to be without your ma. And as another Mother’s Day approaches, I feel conflicted as a mother, but also as a motherless daughter. Eight years is a really long time to be flying solo out here as a mom. It’s been eight years of birthdays, science fairs, first days of school, field trips, illnesses, awards, holidays and summers at the lake she so loved.
Eight years since I have had my best friend here with me. Eight years since I have felt the comfort and love of the one woman who never once faltered in her love for me. And let’s be clear -there were times throughout my turbulent teen years that I couldn’t stand myself and my mom was always there to scoop me up, dust me off and tell me how absolutely fabulous I was! There were times early in my professional career when I doubted my capabilities and there she was to boost my ego. There were times in my early years of motherhood where I didn’t think I could do it and there she was to pick me up and put me back together again. Even as she lay dying, she was more concerned about how all of “us” were going to deal with her death than her own death.
It was my ma who taught me what a “Hub” really is, yep, that awesome soft spot to land, that absolute love and acceptance. My ma was the ultimate “Hub”. She was always there and she always had our backs. You could trust my ma with anything. And over the years it wasn’t just my siblings and I that placed all our secrets and fears squarely in her arms but just about every single friend I ever had trusted my mom and had a night with “Lorac”. When they felt they had nowhere else to go, they trusted my ma, she was an absolute quilt of warmth. Man, I miss that quilt.
And now, I’m the mom, it is my job to scoop them up, dust them off and make sure they know how absolutely fabulous they are – but without her behind me, mothering is awfully lonely. And Mother’s Day is another day of the year that I miss my ma so much it physically hurts. Mother’s Day is another day that I am reminded how alone I am without her. It’s another day that I imagine eight years worth of boat rides, campfires, birthdays, holidays, first days of school that we should have had together. It’s a reminder that I am missing the yard stick in which I measure my mothering skills against. And in an ironic twist, when I’ve realized I simply cannot possibly compare to my ma, I don’t have her to pick me up, dust me off and reassure me that I am a good mom, that I am doing it well or even just acceptably!
Ma. Grandma-ma, Lorac, Aunt Honeybuns, Carol, Carolyne, Mrs. Hackett, Mrs. H, Babe – no matter what we knew you as, I hope you know that all that love you spread while here, it mattered. And it is greatly missed every. single. day. But, especially on the day that was custom made for you Ma – Happy Mother’s Day.