Whether I was in Denver, calling you with well-wishes for this special day, or blessed to actually be in your presence to say those words to you face-to-face, Mother’s Day has always been extremely special to me because I knew that I had one of the most amazing women on this planet for a mother. This year I am speaking to you in the spirit, but I feel you with me.
A few years back, I wondered just how I would handle Mother’s Day when you were no longer with me in the flesh. I wondered if I would be as strong as I know you would be. I wondered if I would find myself so consumed with grief that I would want to stay in bed all day. The sorrow I feel weighs on me like a 50-ton anvil. I’m struggling to push it off my chest. The past two weeks or so, I’ve been weepy, sad, and hurt.
You were always my role model. Even when I was too young to understand just how much you had gone through in your life to make certain there was a roof over our heads, food on the table, and clothes on our backs, I knew that I had been blessed beyond measure to have you.
I remember getting so angry because I couldn’t get all the new clothes my classmates got. What I understood later was that when you took the time to sew those clothes for me, you were giving me everything that you could from the heart.
When my shoes had to come from the dollar store, I was embarrassed. What I understood later was that you hadn’t had new shoes of your own in many, many years.
I cut up and clowned because I didn’t want to eat any more squash or greens; I wanted fast food. What I understood later was that you had toiled in that garden planting and harvesting vegetables so that we wouldn’t go hungry.
I know that I was blessed with something many people didn’t have — a mother who very present in my life.
The Days that Followed
On October 24, 2015, you were relieved of the excruciating pain from rheumatoid arthritis and the ravaging effects of dementia. My birthday was a couple of weeks later and while I wasn’t sad, I would have given anything to hear you sing the happy birthday song to me. Thanksgiving was hard for us, but we managed to make it through the day.
December 16th was harder for me than October 24th. You would have turned 86. Christmas found us drowned in sorrow, but we were here for each other just like you would have wanted us to be.
About two weeks ago, I found myself being consumed by an underlying sorrow that I can’t seem to shake. There haven’t been too many days that I haven’t been to the cemetery to visit you. Some days I don’t get out of the car. I just need to be near you.
Your Gifts to Me
Over the years, I bought you plenty of jewelry. I made sure you got plenty of flowers. After you were gone, we found lots of stuff that you have not even opened. Flash and flamboyance weren’t you. You were a simple woman. You were a fascinating woman.
You left me with so many gifts. Thank you for living the life of a strong, unbreakable woman in front of me so that I never had to wonder what it looked like. Thank you for raising me to understand that things aren’t always what they seem to be. You taught me that I have to keep pushing regardless of what’s going on around me. You taught me that no one can do any more to me than I allow them to. You taught me that it’s never about being knocked down or even flat on my back, it’s about gathering the strength to get up and get back in the game. You taught me that I am never, ever, ever to give up on anything I want in this life. You taught me that I am only 2nd best in anything only if I perceive myself as 2nd best.
Thank you for being as unique as your name, Cleal. Thank you for being my mom.