Mom was born in an Army field hospital in Koblenz, Germany. Her father was in the Navy so she moved around a lot which was good training for being the wife of a naval officer. Mom knew how to pack and unpack a household in record time. She knew how to keep things to a minimum, unlike my father who was a self-proclaimed pack rat. Mom was the epitome of a 1950's housewife, though I don't think I'd call her June Cleaver.
Before her a virus damaged her brain, my mother was a force to be reckoned with. She was small but fierce. Early on in their marriage my parents must have drawn up job descriptions - Dad worked outside the home, and mom's domain started and stopped at the front door - and they rarely, if ever, veered from their appointed tasks.
My mother could cook, sew, knit, crochet and do just about anything with her hands. She didn't shy away from intricate patterns or large sizes. Once she started something she kept at it until she finished. My mom could whistle and make a bed so tight you could bounce a coin on it. She liked to go to the circus and, in her heyday, loved to dance, play tennis and was a fencing champion. Before she married my father Mom performed in community theater groups. Dad didn't care much for that so she gave it up. That's what women did back then. Going to church was important to my mother. She was a devout and fervent pray-er. My mom could have been a professional baby rocker, cat feeder or dog petter.
For most of the nine years after her death I lived with my father. It's when I learned that my mother should have been nominated for sainthood. I began to understand the times she slammed a kitchen cabinet so hard it was left swinging on a broken hinge (slight exaggeration for effect). As much as he loved her, my father could be infuriating. I always wondered to myself what planet he lived on when he would say that they never fought. But then, maybe they didn't. My father was not one you could argue with, so while he might have gotten the last word, Mom's door slamming was the period at the end of the sentence.
I often lament the fact that before my mother's brain damage I was still pretty egocentric. After, when I came home to help care for her, she couldn't have conversations. It was impossible to ask her about her life, her dreams, her disappointments. Well, I could ask all I wanted, but she couldn't answer. She hated not being able to talk. Cat she'd say when she was talking about the dog. That man (meaning George W. Bush) she'd say with coal black eyes when someone would ask her who was the president. Usually at this time of year we could get her to sing Jingle Bells. Hearing her sing that simple tune was like listening to the Hallelujah Chorus.
I feel like missing my mother has been overshadowed by mourning for my father. Perhaps I'd feel the same way if their deaths had been reversed. I hope there is some kind of reunion in the afterlife. I like to think of my parents together in heaven. That whole soulmate thing.
Today I'm grateful for the woman who gave me life. If she were here tonight, I'd tuck her into bed, make sure she had her tissues wrapped around her fingers, and kiss her goodnight. I hope wherever she is she's surrounded by angels and singing Christmas carols.
I love you Mama,