As always, I had the best intentions and the stupidest of actions. I didn’t exactly forget Mother’s Day. I just didn’t remember to get you a card, which is pretty much the norm.
Mom, I suck at remembering to do the whole card thing. I am still hiding with shame over the fact that I forgot to write the thank you cards for my wedding gifts (by the way, thank you for everything to everyone who gave me something). It’s not that I’m trying to be rude. I just keep on being super duper forgetful and when I remember, I’m nowhere near the store.
And the cards, they usually don’t say what I am thinking anyhow. How do I tell the woman who held me first within her body and then within her arms for however many years that I love her? How do I tell you that the first soundtrack to my life was the rhythm of your heart and that, even when we are separated, I most likely still walk to the perfect percussion that was inspired by you?
No matter how much I scrubbed when I was a bratty teenager, the whorls and waves of your fingerprints are branded on me and my actions. My love of art is based on you and the hours we spent walking through the art galleries in Washington DC. My most memorable history lessons are not within textbooks; they are when you took me to the battlefields in Gettysburg or when you voraciously listened to the radio when we lived in Germany when the Berlin Wall crumbled. You were the person who taught me to open my eyes and look for the deeper meanings. You were the person who helped me to see the train and explain why it was so significant that the people from East Germany were finally free to travel without restrictions…or fear for their lives.
Mom, I mock you for your fears but, deep down, in my own belly, they live there too. As the Girl graduates from elementary school and will go to middle school next year, I have terrible anxiety about the half mile walk she will make from her school to mine. I fear the boogey-men who hide behind the trees that shield her from the sun but also the hundred million holes that could conceal her.
You are love, Mom. I’m forty-three, but I still love calling you Mama because I still want to be your daughter. I love you not for your kindness or your generosity. I love you for you. Even when you are freaking out about the fact that the senior citizens of Florida are more reliant upon their rear view cameras as opposed to turning their heads and looking over their shoulders so that when we walk through a parking lot, it is to the syncopated rhythm of your constant reminders to “…look for the white lights! Look for the white lights!” I might tease you, even satirically mimic you behind your back….but watching for the white lights has saved me more than once. Because the man in the car at Wal Mart wasn’t looking over his shoulder.
My memories of you, Mom, are filled with warmth and comfort. I remember you holding me in your lap; I was bundled in a towel, sopping wet. I had just tried to throw a terrible temper tantrum and you put me in the bathtub and turned on the water. It was cold and I tried to take off my clothes because I was in the tub and the water was pouring over me. You grabbed my pants and pulled them back up. To an outsider, this sounds ferocious. But my tantrums were ferocious; you were breaking them without breaking me. And when the screaming stopped and the water was turned off, I remember you holding me in your lap while you rocked us in the rocking chair. I remember the warmth of the towel, the feeling of comfort because I was sucking my thumb while your arms were wrapped around me. I don’t remember any sounds. I don’t remember any sadness. I remember warmth. I remember peace and contentment. I remember you.
I remember you sitting in the ugly-orange chair in Germany, with your purse in your lap and a Schlumpf in our hand. I was in the throes of collecting and you had bought one for me. I remember buying my Steiff koala bear with you and you helping me invent stories surrounding it, giving what would be one of my favorite stuffed animals a backstory, a personality. I remember when I was in seventh grade and had lost my Chicago Cubs baseball cap that your father had given me when I was in second grade. I remember the devastation and how you assuaged it by buying me a “little present.” That two and a half foot bear, Cub, is now laying on my daughter’s bed. I haven’t officially given it to her. She has my koala and so many other stuffed animals that you and I bought together. Someday, she will be Cub’s official owner, maybe when she has a daughter of her own. Maybe. I don’t know. I’m not ready to let go of him yet because he is a part of my memories of you.
In my office, Mom, I have the pictures of the Lady and the Unicorn tapestries that you and Dad framed for me. Just above my jewelry box, I have the framed picture of the Spanish Steps and Keat’s Poet’s House in Rome, a memory of that glorious week we spent there. Above the pull-out sofa in my office is the framed photograph of the humpback whale tail that you gave me when I was a teenager and madly passionate about becoming a marine biologist. At my door are the framed painting/postcards of Grainau that you and Dad gave me.
You are everywhere in my private sanctuary. You are everywhere in my home.
I might not have remembered to buy you a card…but I have always remembered that I love you.