My mother passed away in 1991.
She was beautiful, graceful, sweet, complicated, patient and, though
she never finished high school, she was an artist in more areas than I can count. I think she would have liked to spend her life off somewhere in a studio, painting, sculpting, building furniture, sewing. Instead, she took care of me and my father. I was not an easy child: homely, gawky,clumsy, horribly nearsighted, painfully shy, stuttering, allergic to everything, nervous, crybaby, unsocial, bookish. I was unable to paint, build, sew ANYTHING without disastrous results. But, she worked with what she had and what she had was me.
When I grew up, married and had children, she became the quintessential
grandmother. ”Nana” to my children was the giver of all things good (even
if they were declared “off limits” by me), all things fun, all things loving and
and caring. She sewed beautiful things for them–fashionable, wonderful
clothes for school, for special events, Halloween costumes and Easter outfits
and when arthritis wouldn’t let her sew much, she bought beautiful things. My
kids adored her.
She told me once that I must be careful not to spoil my children–a thing she
and my father did to those same children with glee and forethought. When
she saw that I had married a mean and abusive man, she invited the kids
to spend countless weekends, vacations, evenings with her and my father
to get them out of the house. She knew I wouldn’t leave my husband, but
she, once again, worked with what she had and what she had was beautiful
grandchildren whom she protected the best way she knew how.
When I confessed to her that I didn’t know how to be a parent, that I was worried that I was failing my kids, she said, ”Oh Honey, EVERYONE fails their kids. You aren’t as bad as I was and I’ve been better than my mom was. She failed me, I KNOW I failed you, but here we are and we’re mostly ok.” And, for the most part, we were mostly ”OK.”
As I grew older, divorced, and learned to meet the world on my own, I was not
the daughter to my mother that I ought to have been. I did not give her the pleasure of my company as often as I should have. I did not gift her with lovely things as she did me and my children. I wish so much I could go back and change that. I miss her terribly now and love her more than I did when she was alive. That happens, you know. You think you care for someone as much as you could and find, when they are gone, that, you love them even more. I talk to her every night and ask her forgiveness.
I am crying while I write this. Regret is an awful thing. If your mother is still alive, be certain that you are making memories, not regrets. Hug her, flatter her a bit, gift her with anything you can manage–especially your time, call her/visit her and fill her in on your thoughts and your comings and goings.
I wish I had done so. I love you, Mom. Happy Mother’s Day.