Tuesday, April 17, 2012

My Mother Once Called Me Strong

Today would have been my mother's 89th birthday.  I am 47 and if you do the math, it becomes clear that she was older than most when I came along, especially considering it was 1964.  These days it seems we are forever hearing of women having babies later in life, but back then it was not as accepted, not as common.  A cousin has even relayed the story of how one of my older aunts was a bit miffed at my mother for becoming pregnant at 41, what was she thinking, etc.  My how times have changed.

My mother died ten years ago this July, early in my marriage to Daddy Owl and long before Baby Chick was born.  She never knew that I, like her, had a baby later in life.  Nothing in my life makes me feel quite so sad as this very fact.  So sad that the sadness occasionally overwhelms and teeters on the brink of anger.  She should have known him.  I need her to know him.  Life went on without her.  Somehow it's just not fair.

It's funny how your need for a mother never really goes away, even ten years later.  The need to have just one person on this earth who understands without words, the need to hear that voice just one more time, or the need to see her number pop up on my caller ID.  There are times the photos and memories are just not enough and I need HER.

Occasionally my somewhat subsided grief will make itself known as a twinge of jealousy when I push my shopping cart past folks perusing the Mothers Day cards or I overhear strangers in line discussing planned mother/daughter shopping trips.  I silently tell them how fortunate they are and enviably wish it were me, while all the while wanting to turn and yell at them to never take their mother for granted the way I did.

Once upon a time, she called me strong.  The irony of her doing so was lost on me at the time as I was just trying to pay attention to the operating instructions the oxygen tank delivery man from the medical supply company was giving me.  When I look back at that moment ten years ago, I can’t remember exactly what prompted her words or led to her comment uttered to the man as she sat on the side of her sick bed with a turban wrapped around her bald head.  I just remember her words spoken weakly and the man smiling at her and then turning to me with a sympathetic look.  Did the urgency of her situation prompt her need to say it?  Maybe.  I am now convinced she knew that I would need to hear it even if not then.  She knew I would need to hear it someday.

That’s the funny thing about mothers.  They always seem to know us better than anyone, but we don’t ever want to believe it.  We kick and scream from the day we are born fighting for independence from the very one who ultimately has the most to teach us about ourselves.  It is not until much later and sometimes even after it is too late, that we realize maybe the life giver offers more than just an introduction into the world.  A mother also gives sustainability.  She realizes the specific tools we as specific individuals will need in order to live our life and keep moving forward.  Mothers are just like that I suppose.  They just know.

My mother knew.  She knew I would need to be reminded that I am strong and she was right.  She understood that life would be hard.  She knew that some days it would be all I could do to get out of bed, put one foot in front of the other and get through the day. She knew that I someday would need to hear her words to sustain me.  I am hearing them now, Mother.  I am hearing them now.


  1. So sorry your mom is not with you anymore...we never get over losing our parents, especially when we have a special relationship.
    Lately I've read that after birth, few cells from the baby's body remain inside the mom forever. And it works the other way around too. So I guess this is one of the most important reasons we feel that endless need for our moms...poor moms, with all their sacrifices and their enormous love for us...

  2. Sorry, got totally sentimental and forgot to thank you for adding me to your blog roll. I feel so honored and privileged.

  3. I'm so sorry you lost your mom. Mom's always know just what we need, don't they? I hope that I will have that same intuition as my kids get older...

  4. That was beautiful. My aging parents are visiting me now. Mom turns 80 in a few months and Dad is 85. The positive of your missing her so is that you had such a loving connection. I'll be the old mom to my youngest son. I was 40 when we adopted him. And for her to call you strong. For a woman to call another woman strong is the highest compliment. To my way of thinking, anyway.