My mom was the constant protector of my body, mind and spirit. She was my friend, always ready to listen and offer her opinion to advise me, but only if I asked for it. I miss those conversations we had about all things, large and small, always filled with giggles and her sweet attendance to my words and thoughts. Her exceptional home cooking fueled my tiny bones so successfully that I remember suffering ‘growing pains’. I recall her concern over my distress when my legs ached. She would simply say in her concerned matter-of-fact voice that it was merely growing pains. She would put me to bed, telling me that I would feel better after a good nights rest. Sure enough, the next morning I was ready to grow some more under her care. My most memorable meal will always be her roast beef, potatoes and carrots. My gosh, she made it the best, embedding fresh garlic into the roast, browning it on an old cast iron skillet before baking in the oven. Ahhh, the beauty of those carrots, potatoes and celery surrounding that savory roast beef. When she took off the tin foil tent to so that the potatoes would get a golden patina it was like watching and artist working culinary magic. I miss the aroma of those Sunday afternoons while moms roast beef dinner was baking.
In the final week of her life, she and I had a conversation. She had been reflecting on the significance of her life. While I sat with her in the hospital, she raised the discussion about how challenging it is to be a woman, especially these days. We talked about how a woman works twice as hard as a man, with the ongoing domestic tasks on top of having a career. She asked me that age-old question that all mothers have pondered. She asked if I, as a child, had ever missed her when she was away at work. I instinctively knew what she was asking me without her putting it into words. She felt the perpetual guilt that all women have when torn between wanting to stay home to nurture their family but necessity sends them off to work. It took just a brief moment for me to answer her, and I hope relieve her. I told her sincerely that I never missed her one iota, because when she was home she was 100% available to me. I had never thought about this before, but as a child, I never felt that she was distracted with work, because she was always emotionally available when she was at home. I do remember that she did go off to work, but while she was gone my dad stepped up, thus I never had the chance to miss her. I told her that I felt loved my entire life. I hope I alleviated any thoughts of guilt or remorse she had about working outside the home.
My mom carried with her a deep-seated patience, and even though I struggle with that virtue, it is because of her acceptance of others in a nonjudgmental fashion that I am open, caring and able to forgive. I have the capacity to forgive myself my many faults. Her quick beautiful smile and her ability to laugh at herself is also a trait of hers that I hold, and I hope will be passed to my daughters. How can I possibly count the multitude of aspects of being my mothers’ daughter, which make me the woman I am today? I have learned so many morals from her countless lessons from observing my mom’s behavior and interactions with others through the years. Most importantly, I will carry her spirit and feel her love inside my heart, mind, and soul every day.