Mom


Happy birthday, mom. I miss you more than you know. I so wish my children had the opportunity, the pleasure of knowing you. Of talking, laughing, and learning from you.

And I wish you had the opportunity to touch, to hold, to hug and to kiss the kids. They are both amazing. But you already know that, don’t you?

Thank you for being our own special guardian angel. Please continue to watch over all of us and help guide us. Especially your grandchildren.

We love, love, love you.

Dear Mom:

Born Judith Germaine, in April of 1941. I never did learn the story behind your middle name. A regret, for certain. After your mom (Grandma) passed away, we discovered that she had been writing her memoirs. It was such a wonderful gift for the family, and something we each cherish to this day. I am so grateful that her gift to us touched you in such a way that it motivated you to start writing your own memoirs. And just as with your mom, we didn’t find your memoirs until after your passing – and although you didn’t get very far in writing them, I cherish them so very much.

Growing up, your passion for all things school-related was evident, but until I read your memoirs, I never understood just how much you truly loved learning. You excelled in your school work, even spent your spare time playing school. You were student council president in high school, a cheerleader and often acted in plays. I guess then that it came as no surprise to your family when you became a teacher.

During the summers when I was young, my brother and I would accompany you as you taught summer school. We were your teacher’s aides, a job we were proud to have. You taught severely disabled children – in elementary school – and I’m here to tell you that that was one of the greatest gifts you ever gave me. It taught me patience, understanding, and acceptance. It didn’t occur to me until just now, but perhaps that experience was one of the driving forces behind me working for the Disabled Student Services department while in college – the most rewarding job I’ve ever had.

Your career began teaching the severely disabled, and then moved to teaching the hearing impaired, and ultimately you taught the special education classes – all at the elementary level. You learned basic sign language and taught the alphabet to my brother and I when we were quite young. I, in turn, taught my cousin – and I can remember sitting through church signing to my cousin the entire time! We thought we were so cool because we could “talk” to each other without using our voices!! I loved being able to sign and eventually took American Sign Language classes while in college. At one point, I gave serious consideration to becoming an ASL translator.

No one would argue that you were a very giving, very generous person with a heart of gold. And philanthropic to the core – very active in a local philanthropic group, becoming both the local chapter president and the regional west coast president. It was your passion, and so it’s no surprise that philanthropic work is so very important to me as well. I had such a great teacher in the example you set.

Now that I’m a mom myself, I am in awe of you, my own mother. It’s funny how our appreciation for our mothers doesn’t fully bloom until we become one ourselves. I don’t know how you did it … you worked full time, yet came home and put a full dinner on the table, which we ate at the dinner table – together as a family – nearly every night of my life. And dad – bless his heart – was no help. He didn’t clean, cook, or run us around to our various lessons. It was all you. I believe my dad regrets that now, but times were different when I was young.

There is so much that I don’t know about you that I regret not learning before you passed away. Thankfully, I had an opportunity to learn bits and pieces through the memoirs you left behind – but I still have so many questions left unanswered.

It wasn’t until I was pregnant with V that I learned about the tough time you had in your quest to have a baby. Several miscarriages, followed by a pregnancy that ended at six months when the baby suddenly died in the womb. Soon after, you became pregnant again and gave birth to my sister, Diana, who sadly died at 2 days old. You never talked about either. I can remember finding out about Diana after my dad’s mom passed away – I was in my 20’s. My grandmother kept a box full of newspaper clippings – wedding announcements, birth announcements, funeral announcements, etc. It was in that box that I found Diana’s death announcement. I remember being so very sad and wanting to visit her grave. But I couldn’t find the courage to ask you about her because I was afraid to upset you. I never did fully understand the pain, the grief, the depression that you must have suffered until, of course, becoming a mother myself. I regret not telling you how sorry I was to learn about Diana and the other baby. I regret not asking you questions about how you survived such heartache. How you found strength.

Looking back, even though I gave you a VERY tough time when I was a teenager, I know now that I was blessed with one of the most amazing moms on Earth. Many of the lessons you worked so hard to teach me didn’t become clear to me until after V was born, and I’m so very grateful to you for them. I regret that I never told you how amazing of a mother she were. I regret that I didn’t realize how amazing you were until after becoming a mom myself – and, by then, it was too late for you were gone. I know that you know … I do tell you every day and I know that you hear me. But I would give anything to be able to tell you face to face, to hug you tightly, to somehow show you my appreciation.

Mom, as my fourth Mother’s Day approaches I want to thank you. Thank you for the attention to details you paid as my mom. Thank you for the years of ballet lessons, of piano lessons, of life lessons. Thank you for all of the very special shopping excursions. Thank you for the unwavering support. Thank you for believing in me and expecting nothing less than what you knew I was capable of. Thank you for calling me each week just to check in. And thank you for understanding when I wasn’t in the mood to talk. Thank you for my love of cooking, which you developed in both my brother and I. Thank you for my love of travel. Thank you for instilling the importance of family. Thank you for your patience, especially during the 80’s when I know I tested it on a daily basis. Thank you teaching me the importance of an education. And how to respect money. And although I never did quite learn to “manage” dad the way you tried to teach me, thank you for teaching me that when it comes to him, “no” means maybe and “maybe” means yes!

Happy Mother’s Day, mom. I am so proud to be your daughter. Thank you.

judy-teacher-photo.jpg
Today is difficult. Depressing. Upsetting.

I’m angry. Pissed off. Sad.

Three years ago today I got that terrible phone call and my life has been forever changed as a result. I’m not the first person ever to lose a parent. Nor am I the last. I’m not grieving any more or less than anyone else in my position. I know that.

But I’m still angry. Angry that she’s not here. That I can’t call her. That she can’t give me the motherly advice I so crave since becoming a mother myself. And that she didn’t get the chance to watch her first and only grandchild grow.

She does visit, which I appreciate. But I want more. I want my son to hug his Grandma. To learn from her wisdom. To cuddle in her arms. To love her.

I plan on sitting down and writing a tribute to her – my memories of her – that she’d be proud of. One that is fitting for her. Not this. But I’m not yet ready to do that. I’m not sure when I will be ready. Maybe later tonight. Maybe later this year.

I’m not sure what made me do this, but out of the blue I googled her name. She was very active in her community, so I just thought maybe I’d find something and learn something I didn’t know about her before. I did find something, but not what I expected. I found my brother’s blog and an entry he made shortly following her death. My brother’s a guy that never has much to say. He’s immensely private and never shows emotion. I never saw him cry a tear when my mom died, although I knew he was in tremendous pain. Finding this made me happy today, on this otherwise unhappy day:
—————
Dear Mom,

Knowing how much you loved to surf the ‘net, I’m sure you’ve got a high-speed connection in Heaven. I hope you know what a great mother you were. You were always there for me, even when I didn’t deserve it. Your love was always unconditional, and always appreciated.

As much as I will miss you, I know you’re in a better place. The past few months have been very difficult, and I’m just glad you’re no longer suffering.

Love always,
Your Son

Someone sent me this today – and it’s fitting my mood exactly. It was sent as part of an urban legend chain letter … so, if you’ve received this in a chain letter before, beware that it is, in fact, an urban legend. That aside … with the upcoming anniversary of my mom’s death – and the recent passing of her birthday – I’ve been a bit depressed the last few weeks. This poem hits home and is a fantastic reminder for all of us. A quick google search tells me that this poem was written by a Dr. David Weatherford – a child psychologist.

Slow Dance

Do you run through each day
On the fly?
When you ask How are you?
Do you hear the reply?
When the day is done
Do you lie in your bed
With the next hundred chores
Running through your head?

You’d better slow down
Don’t dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won’t last.
Ever told your child,
We’ll do it tomorrow?
And in your haste,
Not see his sorrow?
Ever lost touch,
Let a good friendship die
Cause you never had time
To call and say,”Hi”

You’d better slow down.
Don’t dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won’t last.
When you run so fast to get somewhere
You miss half the fun of getting there.
When you worry and hurry through your day,
It is like an unopened gift….
Thrown away.

Life is not a race.
Do take it slower
Hear the music
Before the song is over.

I’m in a funk today. Today is my mom’s birthday. She would have been 66 years old. I had planned to post a birthday tribute. Something beautiful, well-thought out, something I could be proud of. But I don’t have it in me today. Instead, I’m full of funk. There’s a big ball of tension in the pit of my stomach. I feel like I want to throw up. On the verge of tears. Not pleasant to be around. I don’t want to talk to anyone. I just want to curl up in a ball and cry.

I feel like I’m eight years old again. And I need my mommy. I can remember when I was in the third grade, Kristi C. had a birthday party. Everyone in the class was invited to her party. Except me. It may have been a simple over-sight, but it certainly didn’t feel like one. It hurt like hell and I remember crying about it for quite some time.

Today I was brought back to the third grade. Over a birthday party again, of all things. But this time I’m pissed. Pissed at myself for even allowing myself to get my feelings hurt over not being invited to a birthday party of a co-worker when everyone I work with was invited. Even the brand-new guy who’s only worked here for four days … invited. Why do I care? It’s not like this is someone I socialize with. But I know why I care. I care because it brings me right back to the third grade and Kristi. And because I don’t have my mom here to soothe me with her words of wisdom.

Sigh.

Moon Sliver

I’m not a person who is known for my memory, but some things stick in my mind and I’ve never forgotten them, for whatever reason. I don’t remember much at all about my childhood, so I depend largely upon photos and stories. Years ago … I was probably in high school … my mom told me a story how every time she sees moon sliver, she can’t help but think of the time when I was about 3 years old and I saw the moon and exclaimed, “Mama! Look at the fingernail in the sky!” Since the day she shared that story with me, I’ve always thought of fingernails when I see moon slivers.

Yesterday, V and I were in the car – in broad daylight – when he announced to me that the moon looks like a fingernail. What??????? I looked back at him, and he was holding a sliver of a fingernail in his hand, looking at it. But the moon wasn’t yet out, so how? Why? Even though I went through the process of asking him questions, I knew immediately … it was my mom!

As those of you who have been reading this blog for awhile know, I lost my mom unexpectedly just about three years ago – and since then I’ve made an effort to pay attention to the signs that she’s still around, as I wrote about here and here. It’s not as if I’m looking for her in everything that happens to me, but the ways she comes to me have been so obvious that it just fills me up with peace.

Yesterday’s visit was yet another example. And I’ve been smiling ever since.

Panic. I was absolutely panicked last Thursday when I went looking for a bracelet that I inherited from my mom. It would have been the perfect compliment to the outfit I was wearing – but no – I couldn’t find it. I searched for 40 minutes. Nothing.

I’m not sure what the hell it is about me that makes me lose jewelry. Doesn’t have to be expensive jewelry – just important to me. Sentimental. I suck. I have a bad habit of hiding the few expensive and/or sentimental pieces I have in case the house gets broken in to. The problem is, that I can’t remember where I hide it!

During the holidays, I was asked to give my Christmas list to several people. The one item which I most wanted, but didn’t receive, was a small fireproof safe for my jewelry that I now have from my mother. I tried to go buy one for myself, but having recently hurt my back, the fucker was too heavy to carry – so I put it off for later.

Our receptionist at work is a fascinating woman that knows a lot about a lot so I asked her – half kidding – if she knew of a psychic I could call that would tell me where I put the jewelry. She does know someone, and she gave me her contact information. She also suggested that I sit in a dark quiet room and ask the question “where did I put the jewelry” and wait and listen for an answer. Not sure I have the patience for that, but I’m getting desperate.

Another friend at work suggested I pray to St. Anthony – the saint of lost items.

The loss of this jewelry upset me so much that I stayed home from work on Friday with the goal of finding the jewelry and then cleaning up the mess that has developed in my bedroom so that I do not continue to lose things that are important to me.

Thursday night, as I was about to fall asleep, I figured I’d cover all my bases. First, I prayed to my mother to help me in my search. I then prayed to St. Anthony. Followed by asking anyone who was listening to tell me just where in the hell I put the jewelry.

Friday morning I got up, took V to pre-school, had breakfast with the Husband and then came home, took a deep breath, and walked upstairs to the bedroom. On my way in to the room, a small green handbag caught my eye. I’ve had this bag for a little over three years, and haven’t carried it since last summer as it’s definitely a spring/summer kind of bag. It was on the floor in the hallway. What was it doing there? How did it get there? I walked over, picked it up, unzipped it and found three pieces of the missing jewelry. I have zero recollection of ever putting those pieces in that handbag. I never hide jewelry in handbags because I have too many of them – and I recycle them quite often so I know myself enough to know that I’d probably give away jewelry accidently.

Sigh of relief – but more jewelry to find. I walked in to the bedroom and the very first place I looked – there was the remainder of the jewelry. Two for two. Unbelievable.

Later that day, I was doing some errands and thinking about how quickly I found the jewelry after spending over 40 minutes frantically searching for it the day before. Was it my mom? St. Anthony? Happenstance? To myself, I asked that my mom show me some kind of sign to let me know if it was her.

It was her. The sign? At the store I saw a woman carrying the identical green handbag to the one in which I found the jewelry. As a chill went down my spine, a huge smile crossed my face. Thanks, mom. I owe you one!