For one, she has shown me that she can be very self-sufficient, especially in the kitchen. Cooking, baking, cleaning, finding recipes and executing them - Izzy can do it all or at least give it a good try. And her pies were delicious and enjoyed by many at her brother's graduation party.
She also has developed her own ideas about how she wants to spend her time. After five years of piano lessons, she has decided that she doesn't want to continue playing in high school, and she'd rather continue with art lessons. That seems to be where her talents lie and so I'm fine with it. And while her reading has jumped four levels this past year, she prefers hooking rugs, sewing, or baking to reading - unless she is reading cookbooks. She just fascinates me.
Izzy's birthday has been a little overshadowed by the big Graduation Party that we were throwing for Calvin and his girlfriend Sarah this week. We parents went in together to get a pavilion and make all the food - and I mean all the food! Other than a huge subway sub and the cake, all the burgers, hot dogs and side dishes were prepared by us!
So I get home to my deliciously apple-pie scented house and hurry to get ten pounds of potatoes boiling on the stove so that I could turn them into potato salad the next morning. As Izzy and I worked to clean up the pie mess and get ready for the potato salad work I commented that the next day would be the fourth anniversary of Mom's death.
"Oh, that's right. My birthday is Sunday," said Izzy.
And we both worked away in kind of a somber mood. Ever since it happened, Mom's Death has cast a big shadow over Izzy's birthday, and it probably always will. Mom's death won't fade into a hazy remembrance fog like, "My grandma died sometime in the spring of 2009", or "Grandma died sometime in June." We'll always know that it was June 22, because Izzy's day is June 23.
The next day as we were chopping potatoes and celery and egg for the salad, My nephew came over after morning mass, talking about the wonderful homily he had heard for the Feast day of St. Thomas Moore. In my heart of hearts I think that was why Mom left this world on that day - she added a little more emphasis on the feast of of the saint who defended marriage for us - because no one worked harder to save her own marriage than my mom did.
I shared that thought with Izzy who looked up and said, "I wish Grandma could have died after my birthday." But I think it all worked out the way it was supposed to. I think Mom died on the perfect feast day. I also think she let herself go so that wouldn't die on Izzy's actual birthday - which would have been more of a heartache and a tragedy. And if mom had lingered over the 22nd and the 23rd, of that year, our thoughts and worries would have been focused on the life that was ending and not so much on the little girl who was having a birthday. It happened for a reason.
I had wanted to get to mass myself for mom's anniversary, but I had ten pounds of potatoes to turn into potato salad so I didn't make it. I had a set of Gregorian masses said for her last year, so I felt covered on that end. I had her miraculous medal around my neck and all afternoon at the graduation party I could touch it and think of Mom.
I miss my mother so much. There were at least 100 things I would have liked her opinion on last week. After she retired, I loved being able to pick up the phone on any whim to talk to her about anything - she was my hotline to wisdom and experience. I could have asked her about the new history and literature curriculum I bought, and we would have discussed the book the boys and I are reading (in fact she probably would have read it twice by now just to help me out!) and she would have rewarded Rosie for her first piano lesson, and bought a book of great art work for Izzy's birthday, and hugged Sarah at the party and punched Calvin in the arm (after giving him a generous check) and she would have told me how beautiful my sister is, and how handsome Sam, Gabe and Noah are and what a great husband Mr. Pete is, and how to respond to this and this. And then she would have held Rosie's hand and gone for a walk and they would've laughed about being "Maryrose to the 2nd power!" and I miss her so much it just hurts. still. Not as bad as it did, but still noticeably - like the callus on a bone that was broken and knitted itself back together - that dull ache that is reminiscent of a deeper and more intense pain.
Izzy and I loaded the pies, the potato salad, the fruit salad, and Mr. Pete's special 7-Up Salad into two coolers and took them to the grad party. At the party I watched my daughter smile shyly as people raved about her delicious pies. I told her that I was so so proud of her and she gave me a hug and said, "I love you mama." As I felt my arms around my daughter, I felt my mom's love around me too.