Saturday, October 18, 2014

Mother

Today is the anniversary of my mother's birthday.  What better day to reminisce about her?

My mother was born the 6th child in a family of 9 children, the 3rd of 4 daughters; she was a stepmother, a mother, and a grandmother.

My mother was a student who attended a Catholic convent school taught by nuns; she was a teacher, who taught for 40 years.  Even when she couldn't remember a lot of other details about her life, she never forgot the fact that she had been a teacher. 

At a time and in a place where most women married young and didn't have careers, she married at 32 and continued with her teaching career.

Mother married twice.  The first time, to a widower with 5 children, who was 12 years older.  The second time, to a bachelor who was 8 years younger.  She never addressed either husband by his name.  She'd refer to them by their names, but she never addressed them by name.  When she spoke to them, she'd begin with, "You heard?"; it's a wonder I didn't think my father's name was "You heard" when I was a child!   

Mother was widowed twice.  The first time, she was 42.  I think people expected her to remain a widow.  She caused quite a few raised eyebrows and a deep rift in the family when she began dating again, especially since he was a younger man and from a different ethnicity.  She was 67 when she was widowed for the 2nd time.   

Mother was born into a Roman Catholic family and baptized.  She converted to Buddhism sometime before she married her first husband (my father).  Her second husband was Catholic and they married in church, but she remained a Buddhist.  Albeit one who'd pray to the Catholic saints, if needed.   

At the age of 52, she left what had been a fairly comfortable life and emigrated, with my stepfather and me, to follow a dream.  A new life beckoned and she was enthusiastic to embrace it.  "Change is good", was her motto.  She condensed the contents of 3 homes into the two suitcases each of us was allowed to take on the plane with us and sold or gave away everything else.  Like most dreams, it didn't unfold quite the way we would have liked it to have done, but she remained steadfast and committed to it.

My mother was a strong woman, but hers was the strength of water that flowed around the rocks in the way and wore them down, drop by drop.  The strength of a bamboo that would bend in the wind in order not to break.  It was the strength of surviving to fight another day.  I didn't always appreciate her type of strength. 

Mother was talented; she could sew, crochet and knit, play the piano, sing and dance; she grew a lovely garden, kept a well-maintained home, was outgoing and loved to dress well.  She wasn't quite sure what to make of her shy and introverted daughter who didn't much care about clothes and make up, who preferred to stay home and read rather than go to a movie or a dance; she was proud of my academic achievements, but she would have liked it if I had been a bit more social, stylish and slim.     

And, yet, she was fiercely loyal to me.   At a time when my world began to fall apart, she stood by me and supported me and staunchly defended me and my decisions to those who would criticize.  So much so that people accused her of being the cause of my troubles!  Little did they know.

Eventually, however, a fall and a fractured hip, a brain hemorrhage and transient ischemic attacks, arrhythmia and a pace maker, and several more falls, took their toll.  She suffered memory loss, became confused and lost at times, walking around the house at evening saying the house has been turned around, occasionally not recognizing me.  That was a painful time.

My mother was 85 when she died, peacefully, at home.  She would have been 94, today, had she lived.  

2 comments:

  1. your mom sounds like a very fun strong lady..Know you miss her. Sending prayers your way..

    ReplyDelete

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