12 years ago today the world grew a little dimmer when my mother left it. This anniversary is hard every year, remembering the shock, the gut wrenching pain and surreal quality of the days that followed. This year is particularly hard because it means my baby brother has now spent as many years without her as he had with her. Gary, this post is for you.
We may look at ourselves as unfortunate, dealt an unfair hand-and that’s true, young people shouldn’t have to bury their parents. But we need to remember how blessed we were in the short time we had Mommy. She gave us enough love and wisdom to last a life time.
There are so many times that I have a problem that I wish I could call her to help me sort it out. But she gave us enough wisdom and conscience to fix our own mistakes and rely on our instincts when life throws us curves, though she was always in our corner. Do you remember when she took my book and locked me out of the house until I went and made a friend? She made us face uncomfortable situations; didn’t shield us from them. I think that has gone far in our lives without her.
Speaking of friends, do you remember some of hers? She didn’t have much in common with many of them. She was so intelligent, witty, good natured and some of them…well not so much. Looking back I’ve realized our mother knew they needed a friend. She was a shoulder to lean on, a voice of reason in some of their tumultuous lives-when it would have been easier to avoid them, form friendships with people more like herself and get on with life. She was quietly self giving and genuinely kind.
On the flip side of that coin she was tough as nails when she needed to be. The saying “stand up for what is right even if you’re standing alone” always makes me think of her. I called her a crazy vigilante more than once. Whether it was school, the neighborhood, work she did what she knew to be right no matter the cost. Our mother cared a lot about how people felt and not about what people would think. I lost some of my chutzpah when she died because I didn’t have her in my corner dousing me with ice water and urging me to get back in the ring. I gained that back when I became the corner man four years ago and I hope you realize it now that you’ve got a contender of your own.
I know we both love to recall all the silliness that was our mother. What other kids got to play black out hide and seek with the Clancy Brothers to drown out the giggles that would reveal our hiding spots? (Besides the friends that were lucky enough to join in?) No one I knew had a mom who came out and did cart wheels with them. Remember the air drumming? Mom never got so bogged down in worrying about money, laundry or anything else that she couldn’t have fun. She was still tickle attacking me when I was seventeen. I always felt that she not only loved us because we were her children but she truly enjoyed our company. She was the perfect blend of parent and friend. I respected her, I listened to her but I really loved being around our mother. We never had any forced family nights, every night was family night by choice. I hope one day we can be parents our kids look forward to spending time with.
We didn’t have mommy for long, but she gave us all of herself while she was here. There’s so much more I want from her, but she gave us what we needed and she’s left an example for us, for our children and so on. And what better corner to have her in than eternally bending the Big Guy’s ear in our favor, vigilante style?