Monday, October 6, 2008
A Celebration of Mothers
So, here are the mamas. My mother's birthday was yesterday. She would have been 78 years old. This is my favorite picture of her and Joe. We buried Joe's mom on Saturday. Believe it or not, the man in the picture with her is not her husband. It is her fiance.
She was engaged at 81 years old. We were engaged together. They never married - Leonard passed away the January after we were married. This was taken at our wedding reception.
Yesterday was a conflict of emotions for me from sadness over Josephine and remembering my own mother. All that was left of me was exhaustion. I didn't grieve or celebrate much because it was all so overwhelming.
But today I can take a moment to remember two women with influence. My mother told me shortly before her death that my sisters and I were her best friends. How neat is that: to raise your best friends? That was especially important to me because I am seven and ten years younger than my sisters - the youngest and a decade is a long time. My sisters and I are close as well. We used to have a weekly sister chat and schedules have made that an every other week if we're lucky sister chat, but we are still together. We have two brothers as well, but you know, they're boys.
I came to see my mother as a woman - I truly believe that is a gift we can give to our parents - to be mature enough to see them as human beings after we've seen them as parents. That was the day I became her friend. Trust me, I heard "I'm not your friend; I'm your mother." when I growing up so I know what a transition it was from one to the other. It was during that time that most of the lessons came to roost. I'm still learning from my mother. From who is was and who she wanted to be but couldn't become. From how her own mother influenced her life to cycles that should continue and those that should be broken. She is still my greatest teacher.
Joe's mom was at our house after we came back from my mother's funeral. I don't know what we were talking about but I must have said something about my mother's being gone and she very gently but firmly looked at me and said: "I'll be your mother." And there were times that she championed me and defended me and called me just to chat. She had another daughter-in-law who is the uber daughter-in-law and who has been in the family for more than 30 years - she was closer to her than she was to me, but I have no complaints. She did right by me.
She came with me to one of my women's meetings at church and charmed all the women there. (At her funeral someone whispered to me they could still remember her apple slices.) We went on a trip to Phoenix together. She gave me a package of Joe's baby pictures. When I was the foreman for a special grand jury, she baked apple slices for the jury. When she said something I took offense to and told Joe about it - he went down the street and talked to her about it. She immediately called me to apologize and told me she was so happy I was married to her son.
I sang at her funeral on Saturday. Amazing Grace and The Lord is My Shepherd she did like my singing so it was a gift I could give to her. I actually made it through both songs. The final gift I can give her, of course, is to take care of her son. Both her sons spent a great deal of time with her. They weren't mama's boys at all but they were caring, devoted sons which makes them both devoted husbands. My sister-in-law and I are two lucky women - and don't we know it.
On the other hand; they are two incredibly lucky men - thanks to the mamas.