Thursday, May 22, 2014

A Letter To Mother

Six years ago, I found a beautiful comment on one of my entries about Mom. It came from author Carol O'Dell and was something she had written about her mother. Carol has a terrific website at She puts into words what so many feel with the demise of a parent or relative. This is from June 4, 2008.

Dear Mother,
This is my fifth Mother’s Day without you.I should clarify: without you physically here.You are indeed, here. I talk to you and listen to you more than ever. Never thought I’d say that. Your stories, wisdom, advice, and crazy sayings all come out of my mouth. Your stories, wisdom, advice, and all crazy sayings come out of my mouth. You are remembered, your songs sung, and your recipes grace my dinner table often.I’m now the family matriarch, and I’m somewhat comfortable with that new role. I’m the remember-er, the keeper of the stuff (birth, marriage, and death records, photos, jewelry, heirloom furniture), the family repository. In some ways, I don’t feel dignified or old enough for this role, but I guess I am. Old enough. I still long to be somebody’s daughter. Do you ever get over that? And yet, I do see that I needed you to get out of my way. Sorry, mom, but it’s true. I needed this emotional space so that I could step into my own womanhood. This transition is natural. Mothers die. I too, will die. This is to make room for all the new mothers and all the new daughters. But mothers don’t just die, their seeds fall into the hearts of those who love them. I also don’t want to sugar-coat you–or us. We were far, far from perfect. I’m not even interested in perfect; who learns from perfect? I see some wrong choices you made–some wrong choices I made. I understand why: pain, fear, selfishness. By analyzing “us” I can learn a few things, make different choices. I can’t imagine you being bothered by this now because whatever the “here-after” is, it has to put our petty issues in perspective, and I refuse to think of an eternity wracked with guilt and regret. 

You’d be proud though. My skirts are longer now, and I actually do own a slip. I wear your broaches and scarves when I talk about you to caregiving and Alzheimer’s groups–and I show your picture. I talk about you more now than when you were alive, and part of me finds that rather annoying. I hope to have as long of a shelf life as you are. I’m a mother-in-law, which is completely weird, and I understand things different now. I understand how trusting someone to love, respect, and care for your child is so scary, even when your daughters or sons are grown and tell you they don’t need your protection. They do. Spiritually, emotionally, not in your face, tell you what to do, but in a broader sense. I understand how a wedding isn’t just about the bride and groom–how your dreams, your hopes, your family’s expectations somehow get tangled in the mix. It took me 25 years to stop blaming you for controlling my wedding. I understand how you long to have a quiet alone moment with the child you bore–how it’s hard to be second fiddle to person who once thought you carved the moon out of cheese and flung it to the sky. I understand how hard it is to scoot one seat down and let the next generation take center stage when you feel like you barely got there. I eat breakfast every day, something you couldn’t force me to do as a kid. I also hear those words slip out of my mouth–"Wear a hat, it’s cold." I think of you and me, and all the hats I snatched off my head the second you weren’t looking, and here I am, dolling out the same advice. Did you put a whammy on me? I also insist my children call me every day. Just like you did. It was the best thing you could have done, you know. Even after five years, I so miss our calls. I can’t tell you how irritating they were, some days. But those “I’m all right, busy today, love you, Mom,” calls kept us going. I thought they were just for you, about you being needy. (there's more but I don't want to go on too long)

God bless,
Luke 18:1
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