Sunday, May 09, 2010

Mother's Day

This is my first official mother's day without my mother. Last year we still celebrated Mother's Day with Mom at the rehab center but mom was not feeling well and didn't have a very good time, and my sister was somewhere else, so it really wasn't our typical mother's day. It was a transition year.

I have been dreading mother's day this year and didn't really want to celebrate it at all. The kid's did though. They said, "Well, we still have a mother!" and they wanted to celebrate.

I was warming to the idea. It wouldn't be our typical celebration (my sister has a full weekend with graduations and such), I planned to go to the cemetery and then enjoy a nice weekend with my own kids. I was even happy about it. So happy in fact that as I was preparing for the wedding I worked for yesterday, listening to the organist and soloist practicing while gingerly moving the kneelers and chairs into place, I accidentally tripped over the marble steps and smacked my lower back/upper buttock pretty good. Enough to wonder if I had seriously hurt myself. I said a little prayer for the wedding coordinator for the 2 o'clock wedding to show up early and apparently my guardian angle (who I am otherwise not speaking to) took the message and she came in time to take over my wedding.

Meanwhile the lovely florist lady helped me up and helped me get the rest of the wedding set up. She told me I still looked shaken and that's all I needed to let the tears come. I told her that I was afraid that I had really hurt myself, and that my mom had died last year of ovarian cancer, and that since I now had three first degree relatives with cancer, every little ache, pain, twitch or pinch sent my mind down that same possibility, and that I didn't want to celebrate mother's day without my mom.

I had known this woman about five minutes.

But she was very, very sweet. She told me about her own mother's death and she fussed over me a little bit. I guess she mothered me when I needed it.

A quick trip to the ER and a Percocet prescription later and I just have a bruised muscle, but I'm going to be sore for a while. So I guess my self-fulfilled prophecy of not celebrating mother's day came true.

This morning I feel a bit better and think as long as I take it easy I'll be okay. Which is unfortunate because the kids have made a bigger mess in the laundry room, I have a sink full of pots and pans and the dining room table is piled high with books - so I guess I'll either have to do it my self, scream and yell, or shame people into fixing it for me. But I did a load of laundry today - it took me 30 minutes but I know I can do it if I go slow.

But that's not what I wanted to blog about. That's just background noise. On this Mother's Day I wanted to take the time to write down 100 things about my Mother that I would like my kids to know/remember for the future, and so that I never forget them.

1.  How pretty and white mom's hair looked after she washed it and how much I liked it when she wore it a little longer.
2.  I always loved my mom's hands.  I didn't think they even aged until the last few weeks of her illness. At the funeral home they looked young again.
3.  Mom always cried for sad movies and shows - I couldn't stand that when I was a kid, but now I do the same thing.
4.  Mom could sit down at the piano and play anything she wanted to and she could sight read music very well.
5.  No one here ever got to know this, but Mom was also a superb organist.
6.  When I first started having kids Mom was NOT very good with babies.  But she became very good with them by the time Rosie came along.
7.  Mom could be fearless. I think moving to New Mexico in the first place was brave, but moving back again in her 70s and then all the driving she did to visit me in Ohio was just very brave.
8.  Mom had a genuine laugh.
9.  After she moved to this town, we spoke to each other just about every day.  If I got a phone call in the morning, it was most likely mom and although sometimes that really irritated me (especially calls before 7 a.m.) I really miss those calls now.
10.  Mom was very devout in her prayer life.  When she was my age, she was already into a very solid prayer routine.  I wish I could be more like her that way.
11.  She never gave up on my dad.
12.  She never gave up on my sister or me either.
13.  She came to love Mr. Pete as if he were her own son.
14.  She taught for many years, but I never heard from any of her students when she passed on.  But she loved teaching Sam and I think a lot of his future success will be a credit to her.
15.  She was a walking Encyclopedia.  If we ever played trivial pursuit we all wanted mom on our side, or at least available for consulting.
16. Mom was a voracious reader.  She read the last Harry Potter book in a day.
17. She enjoyed the whole Little House the Martha Years series I gave her to read as well.
18.  She also loved history and she would call to let me know what was going on on the History Channel, especially if it was something we were covering in school.
19.  Mr. Pete and Mom shared a love of science fiction - something I was never particularly fond of.  They bonded over sci fi.
20.  Mama loved animals, especially cats.  Every day she came over to help me home schools, she always brought treats for the cat and dog.
21.  Mama told all of the neighborhood kids to call her grandma.
22.  Whenever I was having a fight with someone at school or work, Mom was always a sympathetic ear. She always took my side which wasn't very objective, but that's okay.
23.  When Mom moved here and got her own health in order, she became one of the prayer partners at the local hospital.  They would call her up with a number of people to pray for and she always did.
24.  Mom was my favorite accompanist.  We played some very difficult music together including the Mozart · Flute Concertos.
25.  She wanted my sister and me to love music.  When we were little we had season tickets to the orchestra, which if course I never appreciated as a kid.  But we did hear some great music - I just think it was too late at night for us to really enjoy it. We went with my mother and my uncle and eventually we were friends with many of the other season ticket holders.  I wonder if Sis remembers this?
26.  My mother had one godchild, and she kept her baby picture on her dresser always.  Last year her Goddaughter came to her funeral and helped spread the white cloth over Mom's coffin.
27.  Mom loved food.  She could remember what she had at a particular meal in a particular restaurant years ago!  It was a special gift!  That was the saddest part of her cancer, that she lost her appetite and her love of food.  When I recently saw the movie Julie & Julia, it reminded me of my mother's enthusiasm for good food.
28.  She couldn't cook though.  She NEVER was a very good cook.
29.  She loved exotic foods and cultures too.  She dragged us to all kinds of ethnic festivals when we were kids.
30.  When we were really little she was the choir director at church and at a senior high school.  I remember she put on operettas and plays and all sorts of choir concerts.  She was good friends with the band director.
31.  When the school district cut the music program she was devastated - but her teaching certificate and minor in education got her a gig teaching English and social studies, and she was very good at that too!
32.  I loved it when Mom dressed up.  When she was teaching she dressed very nicely and smelled good too. I knew she wasn't feeling well because that was the first thing she gave up.
33. Mama read herself into the Catholic church.  The history of it and the theology of it made sense to her.  She would calmly defend the faith as well.  One time we had a Jehovah's Witness come to the farm and have a discussion with Mom.  I guess they "discussed" for quite some time.  I don't remember any raised voices, but that man went home and had a heart attack.  Mom felt bad about that.
34.  When my grandma was alive, she and my mom were best friends I thought.  Mom resented grandma a little bit, but they were still very loyal and devoted to each other.
35.  I guess Mom was my best friend too. And yes, we got on each other's nerves sometimes too, but that was secondary to the love and loyalty we had.
36.  My parents never divorced. After my grandparents died and my sister and I grew up, she moved out there and took care of my Dad for six years, before her own health made her move to Ohio to be with us.
37.  They are now interred together, which I am sure delights my mother.
38.  They were married on the Feast of Saint Ann. 
39.  Mom let my sister and me try everything from dancing, to baton lessons, to music lessons, basketball, baseball, volleyball, and girl scouts.  If we wanted to try it, she always let us.
40.  She was a big band supporter too when we were in high school and was the president of the Band Boosters one year.
41.  She paid for everything when we were growing up.  My father didn't pay for anything. My grandparents provided us with a place to live and food to eat.  I had a great childhood.
42.  I didn't realize money was tight until high school.  I didn't get my last high school year book because of the cost.  I didn't take a class trip to Stratford either, but I can't say that I regret that.
43. Mom was a great storyteller.  One of my fondest memories is having her drive me to my dancing class and telling me some wonderful story from Greek mythology.  I was sorry when we arrived because I was so in to the story!
44.  Mom was stubborn.  You couldn't make her do what she did not want to do.  She remained that way until the very end of her life and although I'm not sure she died the death she would have wanted, when she decided she wanted to die there was no talking her out of it.
45.  When I was in the hospital at age 12, she came to visit me every day for about a week and read to me a story about Miranda the Cat. 
46.  When I was very little she played this piece on the piano called the Doll's Tea party, and I would ride my riding horse as hard as I could while she played that piece. It was so much fun.
47.  I hated it when she had piano students come over, because it meant I couldn't be next to her.
48.  She made us a puppet theater once, all by herself.  We had a lot of fun with that.
49.  She insisted that we go to Catholic Schools, and although I don't think that benefited us much spiritually or theologically, we did prosper academically.
50.  When I was 12 or so, we took our one and only family vacation.  My mom drove my sister and me to upper Michigan and we saw the Tahquamenon Falls and went through the locks at Sault Saint Marie, and went swimming everyday and even went to Mackinac Island.  I will never forget that vacation.
51.  She was a very good driver, unless she wasn't.  I'll never forget the time she threw it into reverse on the express way because she missed an exit!
52.  She went on a pilgrimage to St. Mary's when my sister and I were earning the Marian Award in Girl Scouts. It was like a homecoming to her and she even saw some of her old teachers there.
53.  Mother was salutatorian of her high school class.
54. She worked in the dining hall at St. Mary's during college to help pay her tuition.
55.  My grandpa got tired of paying tuition so in her senior year she had to quit piano lessons to work harder to make ends meet.  My grandpa sowed an entire field of soy beans and all the profit from that crop paid off my mom's last year of college.
56.  When I was about 8 or so, Mom went on a trip with her Aunt Mary into Pennsylvania to discover more information about her family tree.
57.  I missed her so much, but in looking back I think she needed a break from us!  She was gone about two weeks.
58.  She brought us back some souvenirs.
59.  The trip of her life though happened in the 1980s when she traveled with the church choir to Rome to perform for John Paul II. The poster, in Italian, with her name on it, hangs now in my living room.
60.  She always seemed to fight with her brother. He liked to tease her but I don't remember her taking it good naturedly. I'm sure that's how he meant it though.
61.  The weekend of my grandfather's sudden illness and death, she and I just fell into this deep embrace. We knew that the world as we knew it was going to change forever and we couldn't stop it.
62.  She hugged me like that again the last time I took her to the hospital when she was in the ICU, and she knew that catching that infection had prolonged her life.
63.  Mom tried to step up after Grandma died, but Grandma left a big hole to fill. I'm not sure it ever was.
64.  Mom never "owned" her body.  She spoke about it as if it didn't belong to her.  "the ankle," "The back," The brain tumor."  It always sounded odd. Of course the way her body seemed to betray her in the end, maybe she had a premonition of sorts.
65.  In the early 1960s my mom had to have a hysterectomy because of heavy bleeding caused by a fibroid tumor. I remember my dad had to come up to Michigan to give his permission.  I remember running to hug her when she came home and being shocked that I couldn't because she was in too much pain.
66.  She had her uterus, fallopian tubes and one ovary removed.  The other ovary they kept in to provide natural hormones.
67.  Having a hysterectomy or a tubal ligation is supposed to lessen your chance of getting ovarian cancer by almost 70%.
70.  When I was a pre-teen Mom would drive around with us "exploring. "  I loved that.  That ended when gas prices rose in the 1970s.
71.  My mother and my grandmother both broke their ankles within months of each other.  It was weird.  They both had to do the long cast thing.  Mom even had to have surgery with screws and plates.
72. She broke her ankle coming out of the beauty parlor when the cement blocks they had for steps turned over.
73.  Mom took the owners to court, but lost the case, which I still can't figure out.
74.  She sued someone else because of a car accident but I can't remember how that worked out.  I just vowed that I was never going to get involved with lawyers.
75.  Last year I had lawyers in three different states - so much for resolutions.
76.  When I was a very little girl, I remember mom taking me for walks down the lane and looking at flowers with me and listening to the Bob White Quails.
77.  Mom painted more before I was born, but I do remember her painting a mural on the back porch of Arch Rock on  Mackinac island.
78.  We all use to exercise to Jack LaLanne.  I'm sure Sis and I just got in the way, but we were still enthusiastic.
79.  Mom always played for church. I remember sitting in the choir loft while she played the organ.
80.  One time at offertory my sister wanted a penny for the collection and she ran over to Mom for one but kicked one of the wires connecting the organ.  There was no more music for the rest of mass!
81.  Mom was playing for Christmas midnight mass when the news came in that my sister had had her her third child.  I rode over to church and whispered the news in her ear. After the mass she announced the news to the choir and they all applauded.
82.  Mom played piano for mass here up until the last couple of years.
83.  She was also a well trained and lovely soprano.
84.  We figured that she had participated in music for church one way or the other for over 70 years.
85. Mom never liked her breasts. She thought they were too large and then when she wanted to nurse her babies, she felt they let her down.  It wasn't until I was nursing my own babies that I figured out that she just got some bad advice about how to nurse a baby.  She didn't nurse enough and so her milk didn't come in enough OR she mistook the baby's enthusiastic nursing for being hungry all the time. But whatever it was she felt that she had failed in that regard. 
86.  It was because of this though that I was determined to nurse my babies and I did.  Every one of my babies was nursed well into toddlerhood and I think that pleased mom.
87.  Mom and Calvin never got along.  Maybe because Mom's brother was also named Calvin.  I'm not sure, but they just never clicked right.
88.  Mom was a people person though. She loved meeting new people and sharing stories with them.
89.  In later years she also loved her soap operas and we often discussed the plots and how we would write the story or how we thought it should go.
90.  Mom mourned for Raphael with me.  She truly did.
91.  Mom loved both of her grandmas very much.
92.  She also loved her in-laws very much especially her mother-in-law who was always very kind go her.
93.  She loved having a baby granddaughter named after her.  She was so pleased about that.
94.  She was deeply against abortion.  I remember when Roe vs. Wade passed and I couldn't figure out what all the fuss was about, so I asked her why abortion was wrong and she simply said, "because it means they are killing babies."  Simple, succinct, true, and enough to make me pro-life ever since.
95.  Mom was also a Democrat.  She mourned the death of John F. Kennedy very deeply.  She didn't believe the stuff that came out about him later until she had to.
96.  In a lot of ways Mom came to feel about the Democratic party as I did; they left her, not the other way around.
97.  Being a pro-life, new Republican didn't make her very popular at the nursing home, but she stuck to her convictions.
98.  Mom always bragged about me and my sister and her grandchildren to whoever would listen.  Her nurses told me she talked about all of us all the time.
99.  Mom told my kids that I was a holy woman.  I am not sure that they believed her!  I was deeply moved by that and although I might not be as holy as mom thought I was, I am working on it.
100.  I will always love her.  I miss her very much.
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