Grateful for a relationship with mom

“Maker of memories, molder of dreams” — the opening line of a poem I wrote for my mother long, long ago. My mother has been gone for almost seven years now. It seems like last week. It seems like forever. My mother wasn’t perfect, but who is? I learned a lot of life’s lessons from her, both good and bad. She had a sharp and sometimes cutting wit that she brought out when other people were around. To us, her family, she was good natured and long, very long, suffering.

Chauffeur, seamstress, nursemaid, cook; a listening ear, a knowing look. She did all the things a mother was “supposed” to do; like sewing dresses, making May baskets, hiding Easter eggs, providing transportation, carving pumpkins — the list goes on and on. Until the mid 1960s I was a lucky kid whose mother stayed at home.

When she finally decided to work outside the home as a waitress at Meeder’s Restaurant in Ripley, she wouldn’t work weekends, tried to be home when we got home from school, which didn’t always happen, and took summers off. If the owner didn’t like it, she quit; then applied to work again the following September; she was always welcomed back.

Mothers can be wonderful creatures. The best of them teach their children to fly, knowing it is the nature of things to leave the nest at some point. When I “left the nest” my mother became my friend. We became equals; women who could talk about things she couldn’t bring herself to say when I was younger. We never had “the talk,” but we could laugh till our stomachs hurt, relating stories of sexual advances of men and boys we had known.

Fun and laughter, wisdom and wit. Did I ever thank you for any of it? My mother didn’t drink much, but one summer she decided it was cool to drink gin and tonic. So we sat under the maple tree, sipping our drinks as the sun went down, and it grew darker and darker, until we couldn’t even see each other, getting more and more inebriated. Truthfully, it didn’t take much for either of us to dissolve into giggles. That’s one of the happiest memories I have of her. I don’t remember what we talked about, I just remember it was hilariously funny and the connection to her was amazing.

In the end, she wasn’t sure who I was all the time. She accused me of terrible things she thought I had done. I knew, somewhere inside, she was still there, the loving woman who shaped my life; but it was incredibly sad to see what time and illness was doing to her. I was there when she died, heard her last breath, and saw the peace and beauty on her face as the angels took her home. I miss her.

If you still have your mother, be grateful, no matter your relationship to her. Know that she did the best she knew how to do. And tell her thank you. Before it’s too late.

Robyn Near is a Ripley resident. Send comments to editorial@observertoday.com

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