Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Yesterday . . .

Yesterday was the ninth anniversary of my mom's death.  I thought about it a lot yesterday.  I miss her.  Very much.  I don't think that ever goes away. 

I have written about my mom here before.  She chose to live every day with joy and purpose.  She was a true original - a woman far ahead of her time - and I have always felt so lucky that she was my mom.  She raised me by herself (well, in our large, extended family) after my father died when I was a toddler, during a time when a woman in the workforce and a single parent were not common occurrences.

This is my favorite picture of her:

It's one I took years ago at a wedding in New Jersey.  I think it was about 1994 or 1995.  This is how I always think of her.
Here we are in 1970:
And in 1986 (the first time I got married  :-D)
Always smiling (and not just for the camera), always moving forward (except for her haircut, which was pretty much the same for what I can remember of my life).
Time marches on . . . and I wonder how she can be gone for this long already.  I wonder how I can have been at the same job for all this time.  I wonder how I can be as old as I am  :-)
I wonder, sometimes, how I managed, at times, to keep moving forward in my own life.  I don't say this in a sad way - I just wonder about it.  And then I know how I did it and how I continue to do it:  I had the best example.  My mom suffered great loss in her life, and not just the losses that we all experience.  She chose to keep moving forward. And not just putting one foot in front of the other - she chose to move forward with joy and purpose every single day of her life.  Yes, she was irritating, and a master of the side-eye with comment.  Yes, we argued - what parent and child don't?  We were as different as chalk and cheese in who we were as humans - the phrase, "You are just like your father!" was uttered more times than I can count  :-)
But she was my greatest champion and my greatest teacher.  She taught me that I could do or be anything and anyone I chose to be.  My heart aches for those who did not have a mom like her, and I shared her with my extended family and my closest friends. 
She got sick, had a surgery, and was gone in  an eight-week frame of time.  It was shocking for me.  She was here, and then she wasn't here.  And I had to honor her wishes in stopping her life support when it was clear that she would not recover from a surgery.  She went on her own terms - and trusted me to make sure.  With the support of my cousin, ME, I honored what my mom chose.
When you are present at the moment of death, it changes you.  Irrevocably.  And I think it's something you cannot understand until or if you experience it yourself.  When you choose to honor what someone has chosen for themselves, you open an entirely new piece of your heart. 
And that's what it's all about, isn't it?  Our hearts?  I know I have a great and mighty one, because of my mom - and in her last moments here, she cracked open a new piece of mine.  It took me awhile before I understood that and could put it all into perspective, but every day we have is all about choice.  I choose to be happy.  I choose to be healthy.  I choose to find meaning in my work.  I choose when to stand my ground and fight for what I know is right.  I choose when to walk away.  I choose to keep moving forward. 
Choose joy.  Choose purpose.  Choose happiness. 
These things are my mom's legacy - choice, joy, and purpose. 
I am so very grateful . . .


Michelle said...

A wonderful legacy it is.... (((HUGS)))

A :-) said...

:-) She was pretty amazing - you would have liked her.

Kitty Bo said...

tThank you for sharing this. In many ways, I can see that the fruit didn't fall very far from the tree.

A :-) said...

Kitty - thank you. Very much :-)

Susan said...

What a lovely memorial. I see you both share the smile.

Kristyn McCain said...

What a great tribute to your mom. My mom has been gone for 11 years now and it never goes away. I find myself becoming more like her every day.

candy said...

Beautiful. Thanks for sharing

A :-) said...

Susan - yes, we do - that's the family smile - most of my cousins have it, too :-)

A :-) said...

Kristyn - thank you - I know what you mean . . . there are days I find myself channeling my mom :-D

A :-) said...

Thanks, Candy.