Today is Mother's Day, and I really wanted to write something in memorial for my Mom. Yet, I can't seem to find the words that would adequately relay the great love that I feel for this woman, even now, eleven years after her death. Rather fortuitously, I remembered a letter that I wrote to Mom on Mother's Day in 1999. I didn't know at the time that it would be her last Mother's Day with us. The letter captures everything of what I felt at the time, and much of what I still feel for her today. I miss her terribly, but remain ever grateful to have had her for as long as I did.
I hope everybody has a lovely Mother's Day. I am going to a matinee with my own two lovely daughters, who love me just as much as I love my Mom. Life is good, and goes around and around.
9 May 1999
There aren’t many hours that pass in a day without my thinking of you. And so, I thought that I might share some of the thoughts that have come to me. But first I want you to know that a lot of what I have to say is not new, it is stuff that I have known for a long time but have never shared with you. It just seems as though I have this opportunity to tell you how important you are to me, and I think that I should grab the moment. Besides, I’m running out of things to buy you.
As you know, I hate that you have leukemia. It scares me, maddens me, and very often saddens me. But I am so amazed at how you deal with it, at your strength and courage and all-around attitude. I know that you probably have moments, or days, when your strength falters and I really need you to know that you can share those times with me. Phone me or send me an e-mail, or save it up until you see me, but please don’t keep your worries to yourself. We are able to share so much, I think, and I really want to be able to talk to you about anything. You don’t need to protect me from your pain. You see, I have strength too and I am certain that I got it from you. Anyway, the rest of this letter isn’t about the fact that you got sick and scared me into realizing how much I love you. I am writing because there seems to be no better time than now, to share with you a piece of my heart.
I think I’ve told you about the warmest and most precious memories that I have from when I was little. You know we all go on like we were so hard done by, and I’ve done my fair share of criticizing you and Dad about how you raised us, etc. etc. But I have always known that you both did your very best, and in recent years I have come to realize just how good it really was. I think of what it must have taken for you to arrange our holidays in the summer, to get us a pool, to fix my room up so beautifully, to always make our home warm and safe. I know now how much energy and money that must have taken and as kids, we likely never really appreciated it the way we should have. But the times that are most precious to me are still the times that we sat in the living room, on the couch, probably of a Sunday afternoon, with you reading at one end while I read my Nancy Drew book at the other. Dad and the boys were not usually around, and I guess Deb was either not invented or napping, but I recall sitting, listening to the fat from the roast spitting in the oven. It was just very special. After Debra was born, and you were still at home, after-school time was incredibly wonderful. I suppose it was because you were there (rather than at work) and the boys and I didn’t have the opportunity to scrap but whatever it was, I loved coming home and having you there. And even to this day, I love to watch or feel or hear you, humming or singing while you are puttering in the kitchen or tidying up something. Well, I could go on and on about these silly little childhood memories but most of all what I want to say is that I think it is kind of a shame that we only really know what our parents did for us, when we start getting old enough to wonder why our own children don’t appreciate what we do for them.
I don’t want to get into my teenage years, because they weren’t very good times for you, and hey, this is a present not a punishment. I don’t have any real explanation for why I was such a screw-up, but I am grateful that I lived to see the end of it. There were times when my behaviour was really self-destructive, and I am certain that I was also destroying you and Dad. All I can say is that I am sorry, and I would do anything I could to change things so that we had only happy memories of my teen years, but we can’t so let’s just be grateful that they are long over. And from my perspective, I believe that I learned a lot from those times, and in some ways, that stuff made me who I am today.
I spend a lot of time counting my blessings, and being grateful for all that I have in my life. And I am so glad that I moved back here to be closer to you eleven years ago and that I have gotten to spend so much time with you and Dad this past decade. I want to spend the next decade with you both, and I know that we will do everything we can to make that happen. But I also realize that a lot can happen, to any of us, at any time. And so when I think in terms of time, I realize that I have had the most and best of times with my mother, certainly better than anybody I know. I don’t know another woman who I am close to, except for Debra, who has what we have. And I am so grateful for that. If a person’s success in life is measured by how much they are loved by their children, then I would say that you and Dad are likely the most successful people in the world.
Well, my darling Mother, I guess I should stop this shameless display of emotion. I wanted to write you something that would be entirely beautiful and eloquent and touch you right in the center of your soul. But that will have to come later, this letter seems to be more about saying some things that I should have said a long time ago. And yet, I believe that you know these things already, that you know me, and that you know my heart. And so you already know how very much I love you. I could not love you more, but I sure can love you for a lot longer. So we will just continue along, as we have been doing. Even though we have been changed so much by the past few months, I think that when it comes to matters of our hearts, all of our family has shown how much we mean to each other. Not all of us can speak or write about our love for one another, but we all know it. And that is everything.
Happy Mother’s Day.
(Blog Note: I wrote this letter before our own kids learned to appreciate us, but now they do.)