My sisters and I grew up in the seventies and eighties. Our mother stayed home and took care of the house while my father worked. There was never allotted “quality time” with her but there was a great deal to be learned by just being with her and we took full advantage of that. When she spent hours tethered by a phone cord to the kitchen wall, gabbing with her pals, we learned the importance of friendship. When she ran the Sugar Shack at the Little League field, we learned about business. When she decided to create a committee to block development in the woods across the street from our house, we learned about civic duty. When she clipped coupons and mailed in rebates for eighteen months to save for a trip to Disney, we learned about budgets and when she dropped everything to make out with our father every time he walked in the door, we learned how to treat our husbands.
When many years later we learned that she was dying we learned that we weren’t ready to live without our mother. We sat by her bed and cried for days until we looked at our faces in the mirror and learned that if we didn’t stop crying we would look like old women before our time. But our hearts wouldn’t let our eyes stop crying and we laid on her bed and cried so much she yelled at us to stop and get off of her because her nightgown was getting soaked. She died three months later and we learned how fragile life is and how important it is to say I love you. It’s difficult to describe the feeling of losing your Mom. There are no words to describe a person that has lost their mother like widow or orphan. The word “un-mothered” comes very close and maybe “motherless” is even better. The motherless us learned what it’s like to have our roots ripped from the earth and the importance of letting them take hold again so we could continue to survive.
Recently I heard someone call my mother a saint. I felt obligated to correct them. She was not a saint and to remember her as one would be be to remember her incorrectly. She wasn’t a saint, we knew it and she knew it. She did the best she could. She was kind, she worked hard, she loved her kids and her husband, she laughed at the top of her lungs, she smoked, she flew off the handle, she had a ton of friends that distracted her from other things, she made horrible coffee, she yelled, she was opinionated. She wasn’t perfect. She was much better than that. She was imperfect in the most perfect way and that we have come to learn is a perfect way to be.
When our mother earned her angel wings I wrote her eulogy and shared it at her funeral. It’s titled Full Moon in Aries on the Autumn Equinox and is posted in a separate entry on this blog. It shares many poignant and hilarious moments in her life and I believe she would have thought it was perfect.
– Katerina Cavanagh