“There are times in my life where I’m compelled to write and this is one. Life is so short, but, in retrospect, it isn’t. I have a story to tell you both and hopefully you will understand my desire for you to get to know me – your mother, as a person, an individual, and a very loving person.”
This was the first paragraph of a one-page family history my Mom began to write. There is no date on the writing. There is no salutation. And there is no page two.
This leaves me feeling quite sad. And it leaves me with so many questions. Why did she feel compelled to write? Was there something that she wanted to say that I don’t already know? Did she think I really didn’t know her as a person – or as a loving person? The world knew of her kindness. There wasn’t a person on this planet who thought Mom had a mean bone in her body. This I know.
These past few weeks have been absolutely mind-boggling. I can’t help but think Mom would have been happy. Could I go as far as to say that Mom would have been proud? I believe so. “Mom” as the loving person would have been so elated that I reconnect to my adopted twin sisters. I know their leaving our home always grieved her. I know that she would have done everything she could to not have had the outcome she did. I also believe she grieved their loss from the day they left until the day Mom died. Was “this” what she wanted me to know in her letter? Did she feel like I judged her as someone who was not anything but? She carried her grief with grace. There were times I would catch her crying – alone – and I’d try to comfort her. She would not tell me why she was crying and she would dismiss her tears. “It’s nothing, Stacey”, she would say. “I’m being silly”, she would offer me.
My Mother was a very compassionate person – a very generous person. My father said she would have given away her rectum and excreted through her armpit if she could. What an image! But, I know that was true. It was always the kids first. She sacrificed so much so I could “have”. Of course, I didn’t learn this till late in life. Is that what she thought I didn’t know? Well, Mom, I know.
Mom was a smart woman. She knew things I thought I knew. Most certainly, of course, when I was a teenager. I knew better – until I learned that I didn’t. She was a savvy nurse. If anyone had an ailment, Mom knew how to treat it. Butter on a burn? Tish – tosh! Run the burn under cold water. Hot water to thaw frozen feet? No way – that will cause heart failure. Wrap them in a towel and rub them gently – body heat. Mom graduated from her nursing class with the top marks in her class. She was a smart woman – this I know. Is that what she thought I didn’t know?
Mom was sentimental. Family and heritage were important. Tradition was important. “Don’t forget your cousins birthday, Stacey”, she would say to me as she rifled through her address book and box of cards. She remembered everyone’s birthday, anniversary, graduation. She even remembered to mark the day when people passed away. Her address book was filled with important dates. She didn’t miss a thing. Mom – I know this of you.
I know you liked to have fun. I know you loved children. I know you had a beautiful singing voice. I know you were a magnificent cook, seamstress, and now… writer. I think I know you inside out. Well, I thought I did.
Now, I wonder.
Why did you and Dad give up the twins? What must you have thought? How did you feel – how did you function?
How did you recover from giving birth to a child who had already died? I remember you told me you did. How did you carry on? Did you crumble inside?
There are so many mysteries that are left unsolved. Oh, for a moment to be with you again – Mom. To get to know you as a person… an individual. Oh, how I would like to have you sit with me once more, to hug me once more, to sing to me once more.
I miss you, Mom. I miss your, “good-night, Irene”, your laughter, your dancing. I miss your joie de vivre.
I remain with so many questions. But don’t think for one moment that I questioned that you were a loving person- and extraordinary individual.
One of the many conclusions I can make is that she was a very good writer and I would have liked to read more.