Saturday, July 30, 2011

My Mother

I had two actually. My birth mother and my step-mother. My birth mother died when I was 13, the oldest of five kids. My dad married my step-mother about a year later.

My step-mother had her faults (what step-mother doesn't?), but she raised five step-children (and one birth daughter) and we all turned out basically all right. We all finished high school, are responsible adults, and have regular jobs. None of us have been in trouble with the law. She taught us, through difficult and sometimes even harsh lessons, how to be independent. She died ten years ago, of a heart attack. I knew her for 34 years and have many memories of my step-mother - how she loved growing flowers, how she loved her dogs, the countless hours she spent volunteering, how important religion was to her, how important "family" was to her, how much she loved my dad. Even after ten years, I remember her Brooklyn accent, which my dad sometimes teased her about and which she could never change.

My birth mother is a different story. Her youngest three children do not even remember her. I was barely 13 when she died; I was twelve the last time I saw her. How much can a 12 year old remember? I remember her telling us every year that she didn't want any gift for Mother's Day - that having her children was enough. I remember she wore a bright red lipstick. I remember her curly reddish-brown hair and green eyes and freckles. I remember she was compassionate, and when we did something wrong, we could count on her compassion and understanding. I remember her teaching me how to bake cookies and cakes. I remember her often with a baby in her arms. But I don't remember her voice....or her laugh. I can see her laughing, but it is like a silent movie.

She died in a hospital, of breast cancer, at the age of 37. She never got to see her children grow up. I never got to know her as an adult. All I have for memories are a few hazy silent movies in my mind.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! That was powerful ... especially having a 12 year old right now. Hard to think that so much of what we do/have done won't be remembered by her. Only hopefully replaced by lots more audio clips ... not to mention scents, tastes and lessons.