Remembering Mom

Six years ago today I became an adult orphan. My place in the world suddenly felt different. Today is a sad anniversary…like I talked about in my last blog.  But today, I want to remember my mom and smile.  I want to think of her and her life and be happy. I want to share her with you.

Mom was the oldest of seven children. She was a caretaker her whole life and I think it started there!

Here is a picture of her as a young woman.  I look at this one and think of her not as my mom but as Helen, a young person with her whole life ahead of her.

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My mom always had this head of hair!  I never did inherit it….somehow I got straight boring hair…some of my siblings and some of her grandchildren sure did though.  Here is a picture of her that I always loved.  I am not sure if this is her graduation pic or there is another one…We have two different pictures.

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My mom and dad got married in 1951.  She wasn’t yet 21!  SO young, mom! I think they made a striking couple. I love that I do have a few wedding pictures of them.  I wonder often how it must have been for her, when just 10 years later she found herself a young widow with four young children.  I think about my life and I can’t imagine it.  I wish she would have talked to me about it, about my dad and their life. She just never did. I would have liked to known more.

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I don’t remember a lot about my childhood before my dad died. Not really any of it.  I must have blocked it out.  I wish I could remember more.  I think this next picture might be the only picture of my mom and my young self I have….do you suppose my dad took it?

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My mom remarried after my dad died. Just over a year later. I am not sure if she thought she needed someone to help with 4 young kids. I know she could have done it on her own. She was probably much stronger than she gave herself credit for.  The man she married, had 3 kids of his own that he brought with him. They also had one of their own. This blended family wasn’t a good fit at all and it was a tough childhood. I sometimes wonder how it was for her. I wonder if she had regrets.

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Even as I got older, I don’t remember much about growing up. I was never really close with my mom.  We didn’t have mom and daughter discussions, didn’t go shopping. None of that stuff.  I envy those that had that kind of relationship with their mom. I wish I had.

It doesn’t mean I love her any less. She was the only mom I had. Whose to say how I might be if she had been different?  Maybe I wouldn’t be anything like the person I am today. And I kind of like that person!  (When I was diagnosed with cancer, then I heard I love you from her. It was nice to hear, even though I did know it.)

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That picture is one of my favorites.  It is a copy of one, so the quality is lacking, but I don’t care.  My mom was on a chair to try to match the height of my brother.  He just scooped her up….I love that she has her head back laughing!  I don’t remember her doing that enough.

I do know she found some of her greatest joys from her grandkids. I wish she could have been here to see all of them grow, graduate and more!  She would have been so proud!

This picture is of her holding Jamie right after he was born. She actually came to stay with me to help out with Chris and things the week I was due with Jamie. I was surprised she did it, but I loved having her and it brings tears to my eyes thinking of it now.

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The one thing I remember the most about my mom is that she was always sitting in her chair in the kitchen reading her romance novels and drinking coffee.  In the older days she usually had a cigarette too. I loved popping in to visit her.  If the coffee was off, she would immediately make some.  I have the mugs still, that I used then, and every day, I still have coffee with my mom!

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That picture is how I picture my mom the most. I don’t picture her younger.  I don’t picture her older. I picture her mostly like this. I especially don’t picture her like she looked that last day. I don’t even like to remember that. The old frail lady in that bed was not my mom. The woman in this picture.  That one is.

As I think about her, I remember one piece of advice that she gave me once.  Even though we weren’t close, I always wanted to make her proud of me. (If you ever saw the movie The Sixth Sense and remember the scene where the mom and her son were in the car and he tells her that the answer to the question she asks her mom every day is, Yes, well that makes me SOB. Her question she asks her mom, who is passed is, Do I Make You Proud?) Anyhow, I was stressing over a decision I was making and I finally called her.  She told me that if it made ME happy, that was all that mattered.  I never forgot the feeling and empowerment that gave me.  I use that advice..and give it, to this day!

I like this last picture, too.  We threw her a big 70th birthday party.  All the family and her friends came. It was a good day.  So many who were at that party are gone now.  So bittersweet sometimes, to look at old pictures.  Such a strange feeling to look at them and feel happy and sad at the same time.

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I miss you mom. I miss coffee in your kitchen. I miss your cooking. I miss when we hadn’t been there for awhile you asking us if we were lost.  I miss having a mom nearby. I hope you felt loved. I hope you know I wouldn’t have wanted any other mom.

Thinking of you as always, with love.

14 comments

  1. What a simply lovely post. Even though there are holes in the memories of your childhood you have stitched together a lovely tapestry to share with us today. I love that you have the mugs you shared coffee in with your mom and that you have these pictures to cherish. My mom is also named Helen—she is 84 and I treasure every moment we have together as I know that the time may also be short. Thanks for sharing a bit of your mom with us today.

  2. Hugs to you, Joy. My mom had that hair, too. Her middle name was Helen. She lived in Iowa. Today is also the anniversary of her death — 39 years ago. She was 48. Its been so many years but this day is always a hard one for me, too. Mostly I have good memories, but I mourn for the years we didn’t have and that my children never knew their grandma. I think it is incredibly special that you have honored your mother this way in your blog. Our moms are always a part of us.

    Debi

  3. How inspiring that you came to terms with the fact that your mother was who she was and you loved her for being her. (((HUGS)))

  4. Recognizing aspects of our parents within ourselves is easy, but talking about what we keep of our parents, what we have internalized and have chosen to remember, is much more difficult. Good job. Congratulate yourself on doing what many, if not most writers, never achieve.

  5. So sweet to read:-) My dad transitioned in October of this year and this is a poignant holiday season without him. It lifted my spirits to read of your mom and know that our loved ones live on in our memories. Thanks for sharing yours.

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