As Paul McCartney would say, "It's just another day." That sums up my feelings about June 8th. It hasn't always been that way.
The only thing I struggle with today is the fact that my son never got to meet his grandfather. I feel like he has been robbed. I don't think that feeling will ever change. Desmond is fortunate-his other three grandparents are alive and thriving, and he is lucky to have them, but fate shafted him six years ago today.
Today was a good day. We lounged until noon and then went to look at a house before ending up at my mother's for dinner. All the time that we were there, I kept thinking the same thing, something that I've known for quite a while:
My mother is an amazing human being.
Growing up, Mom was the person who kept us to our schedule and made sure our work got done. We never woke up for school and had to get breakfast for ourselves; she always saw us walk out the door and was there when we came home later that afternoon.
Our parents were concerned with us being good people. We learned manners and were expected to use them. We behaved ourselves in public. We said please and thank you all of the time. We were polite and respectful in school.
I had a bit of a rebellious side once I became a teenager; I couldn't keep my mouth shut. I never agreed with anything my mother said, and I had no problem letting her know. I never swore or threatened her, but we had some blowout arguments. It drove my father nuts. If he said it to me once, he said it a billion times: "Why can't you just shut the hell up?" I did, finally, around eighteen, I think. Um, maybe twenty. To be honest, I can't remember the last time we argued.
My grandmother passed away in July 1995. For the last ten years or so of her life, she needed a lot of help, and much of that burden fell on my mother. I know it wasn't easyfor her, as it was the first time I realized how much effort goes into caring for the elderly, and that doesn't even consider the difficulty in watching someone you love age, but she did everything she could to help Gram. It was a lesson in what a person is supposed to do, one that I have never forgotten. I know my grandmother spent the last years of her life comfortable in knowing that people loved her and she was not forgotten.
My mother became a grandmother for the first time when she was in her early fifties, and she has four grandchildren now. I love watching her interact with all of them. One is 22, another 8, and another almost 18 months (along with my son Desmond, almost 6 months). She dotes on them but does not overdo it. All four of her grandkids absolutely adore her.
Nine years ago, when my sister married, my parents found themselves alone. I moved out in 1994. There has never been a day when I haven't felt like I couldn't show up there anytime. My folks made it very clear that even if we didn't live there it was always our home. We had so many fun and wonderful times there after all three of us were out on our own.
And six years ago, everything changed when my father died. As devastated as we all were, we were also very concerned with our mother, who had been with my father since 1956. It seemed like all that ended in the snap of a finger, and I couldn't imagine how that could possibly feel.
It was amazingly difficult time, and in the week that we were all together, from the night he died until we tried to get back to "normal" life, my mother was what held us all together. She's deny that and say that it was her three kids that kept her going, but we all know better. It was because of her that the night of his wake we spent 99% of the time laughing and sharing wonderful stories instead of being sorrowful. It was because of her that we spent the following week celebrating the life of our father instead of wallowing in the shock and grief of losing him.
She kept us going. She has been amazing since my father died. Of course we know that she misses him terribly, as we all do, but soon after his death she decided that she had to keep living. Every once in while she'd tell me that she had a dream where my father told my mother that she would be coming to him soon, and shewould always say the same thing: "I'm not ready to join him. I still have a lot to live for."
Damn right she does. She continues to make her house open to us all of the time. I just turned 41, and I still am able to go to the place that I grew up in with my siblings and our families, and we still have great times, just like we did years ago. I don't know too many people who can still do that. My mother gets embarrassed whenever I thank her for everything she does for us at her home, saying that it is not a big deal and that she enjoys it, but it is a big deal. She could have very easily withdrew from that house and moved somewhere else, but she wanted to keep her life. And we are so thankful that she did.
My mother is amazing. I could spend the next couple of days giving examples. She has grace, style and wit. She loves her family unconditionally. She is giving, compassionate and fun to be around. She has given us many examples to follow throughout our lives, but none greater than what she has done for the last six years-shown us how to go on after suffering a great loss. We live everyday with the memory of our father glowing inside of us like a white-hot star, burning forever.
My father was a great man, and I miss him more with each passing day. He lives on in many ways, and I wonder how that would be if my mother had not shown us the way to keep on living. Thank God for her.
I've felt that way for forty-one years, but never stronger than I do now. And I know a lot of other people that feel the same way.
We love you, Mom. Always have, always will, and we will never be able to properly show you the appreciation for everything that you have done for us. You are amazing.