It was March of 2000 when I lost my Mom. She was 95 years old. This picture was taken about a month beforehand. I miss her as much today as I did in the days and weeks immediately following.
You see she was more than just my Mom. She was my best friend for all those years. We had a special bond. Perhaps it was because I was adopted; I'm not sure. All I know is that through thick and thin she was my champion. I was tall for my age and never quite slick enough to qualify for a clique. She taught me how unimportant that was. When I had questions about anything she'd answer them. When I felt like crying about the injustices of growing up she'd hug me; when I wanted to laugh she laughed with me. And when I deserved it she punished me.
She didn't work outside the home. She was always there. Back in the days when families had such luxuries. I sure benefited from it. We lived in suburban Pittsburgh. A big treat was a trip to the city, shopping and lunch. Maybe a movie. Lunch was always at the B&G; Welsh rarebit and a cherry coke.
She and my Dad became band boosters when I was in high school and chaperoned trips to competitions. I was the only kid who loved having my own parents along. So did the other kids. They were neat parents.
Through college, my working days and right up until I married we did so much together. Even after, when we had moved away, I was anxious for the next visit before the one at hand was finished.
She was a woman before her time. She had been a teacher and a business owner. She married a great guy against all odds. He was Catholic. She was not. He was a Democrat. She was not. We laughed. She was the strength behind my dad. His support network just as she was mine and my brother's.
After my Dad passed away we became even closer. The roles shifted to where I became the support network, the coordinator of all her needs. On visits, when doing things became little more than doctor appointments we still talked. And talked. We reminisced. We'd exchange opinions on politics; she loved to keep abreast of all that was happening.
I'd chuckle when she'd call and leave a message. "It's Mother," was all that was said. Save the phone bill for when I was there to talk. Or I'd pick up the phone on a whim to get a "Mother fix". Right up to her last days.
I'm feeling a bit sorry for myself as I write this because tomorrow is her day and she's not here for me to tell her how much I love her. I did, though, while she was alive and it mattered. A lot.
I never forgot a very wise man telling one of the neighborhood youngsters to be good to his Mom. "She's the only one you've got or ever will. Respect her. Treasure her."
I was so lucky to have had her for so many years. If in fact I am turning into her, as I allude to on occasion when I lament the aging process, I think maybe only partially. I haven't her wisdom, her self discipline nor her grace. But I had her and am a better person for it. Happy Mother's Day, Mom. You're forever in my heart.