Memories are all I have this lovely woman. Good memories. The kind that only a kid can understand. My sisters and I will sit around and talk about her when life was good with her. I think it is important to me, to my children, to honor her and to remember what she gave to me.
I have always had a spirit of adventure, a spirit of optimism, a spirit of hope and joy. These are the wonderful traits she passed onto me. My pictures with my children are not much different than hers. A day at the park, the Jersey Shore, a train ride into the city (New York City) laughter, fun outings. She was the same way. Four girls did not keep her from showing us how fun life could be. She was caring and always made sure that before we left the house we were put together. She was not a rich woman. She was a single mom who was at the top of her class in secretary school. She worked full time for the Bell Phone Company. She was going to raise her girls the best she could. We were in private school, and had a nanny named Miss Elizabeth who came into our row house to care for us while she went into the city to work.
Is a picture really worth a thousand words? I am working on putting together photo's for my sisters of us girls when we were young and picture after picture tells a story of a woman who loved her girls. Who did what she could to offer a good life with her, with her friends, and her family. I am known to say that I definately got "that" from my mom. "That" is so important to my identity and rolls down into my own children.
Life took some dramatic turns for this young mom of four little girls. She was swept off her feet into a life she did not expect. She was swept down a path of health issues, that 35-40 years ago were not easy to diagnose. Her girls were taken from her and given to the states care. She was not that person who started life with a husband, had four little girls, and that husband left her for another. She was a good Catholic girl who faced the obstacles, worked hard, and still had the time for a Macy's Day Parade, an afternoon at the shore, and many park outings with her girls. Rain or shine. Those are the memories.
I did not get to grow up with her as I was taken from our home around the age 12-13 years. I know those last years with her were dark days. Days where she could not get out of bed. Day after day my sisters and I getting ourselves to school. She tried to be a mom, but her health confused many things for me. A young child does not understand the pains of adult issues, and so in those harder times I would think of the times when we laughed, when we played, when we hiked, biked and talked.
Even if I was the 3rd of five kids she took me aside as if I were the first to share with me what a terrific girl I was. The next day she may not have been able to show that, but I heard those words and received her blessings of approval and love. Those very things which I work to give to my own children each day.
As I got older and learned about disorders, bipolor, thyroid disorders, mental disorders I learned to have compassion and grace for all that did not go right in our home. This picture is the picture of a healthy mother who loved her girls and who loved me. I see the kind of love I give my children, a love that comes so natural. Even in the midst of some disasters as a grade schooler I never lost that love she once had when healthy enough to give.
She did her best, but her best was not good enough by parenting standards. She was very sick, and I understood that. Even at the age of 12 years I knew that. Do we show grace for those parents who have wronged us? Or do we carry a root of bitterness that eats away at every memory of your past? I realize that I have had the blessing of always remembering the good in her and her intentions to be a good mother.
It is not an easy job with one child and having had five is that much harder, but she tried on her good days. When her health issues took vacation she shined into that same happy-go-lucky mom.
She passed away at a very young age. Her health took her 4 1/2 years ago. Today I shared with one of my boys that I got my sillies from my mom. Ethan started to ask about her in great details so we go the pictures out and talked about her. Ethan, from observing the pictures says "mommy you are just like your mommy and loves to do fun things with your kids" I smiled and said, yes we are alike in many ways.