Sunday was Mother’s Day and, like most Mother’s Days, my thoughts turned to my own mother.
She’s been gone a long time now – almost 28 years – and sometimes it frightens me to think of all the things I may have forgotten about her. I use to spend a lot of time just trying to remember the details of her voice, her features, her hands. I don’t know why that was so important to me – except maybe that I was 21, had already lost my dad, and so I guess I felt if I lost the clarity of who she was, I’d lose my anchor in this world.
But time has done what it usually does, it’s marched on and I’ve marched on with it. I’ve had my own kids and raised them to adults in the space of time since she’s been gone. I’ve since lost my only sibling and seen his three kids grow to adulthood and have kids of their own. And in the passage of that time, pieces of my mother have slipped away from me.
But then something my pastor said Sunday made me think of it all a different way – he read a piece that someone had written about their own mother and encouraged those with mothers still living to “get to know them” – what makes them happy, or sad, what they love…in other words, who they really are, as people.
And that started me thinking; how much had I ever really known my mother at all. How much, at the age of 21, could I have known? Maybe more than most kids that age would have, since we’d spent a lot of time alone and been through a lot together. But still, I’m sure there was a wealth of things I didn’t know about her.
And that made me sad until I realized that life itself had taught me things about her I couldn’t have understood any other way.
Motherhood has certainly taught me “the other side of the coin,” as has a marriage that has endured almost 29 years so far, and longer than her own marriage of 27 years to my dad.
I heard the expression the other day, “she’s living the life her mother wanted.” And it struck me, I could apply that phrase, in many ways, to myself.
For example, my mother wanted peace in her home, and she often didn’t have it. Yet, though we’ve had our moments, as does any family, peace has reigned more often than not in my own home.
She worked hard – she even worked the day before she died – sick as she must have been. Yet I know the work often didn’t satisfy her.
While I know that feeling, I have to say sometimes my work has satisfied me very much.
My husband has been a strong companion in this life and my kids have brought me far more joy than grief – they’ve been better kids than either I or my brother were with our own parents.
So, I guess her dreams became mine. And I guess you could say she’s continued to reveal herself to me in the seeds she planted deep within me. But I surely do wish I could tell her that, and someday I believe I will get that chance.
But for Sunday, Mother’s Day, I went to her grave and placed the carnation I’d been given at church, a small token of all that’s left unsaid, for now.
Margie Richards is a reporter and officer manager for The Madison County Journal.