A series of this and that found in some long-forgotten file folders in my basement. Specifically, this is a piece I wrote a while ago about my mom and hers; part 1 is here, part 2 is here, part 3 is here, part 4 is here, and part 5 is here.
I don’t know how to forgive my mom’s mom for dying young. I don’t know how to forgive her for refusing to have the surgery that might have saved her life, or at least prolonged it; for missing a hundred big and little milestones and firsts, a thousand joys and disappointments; for leaving my mom without that fierce, gentle love that feels unconditional. I don’t know how to thank her, either, for loving my mom when she came as a surprise in her thirty-eighth year; for knowing the value of a good, hard belly-laugh; for being embarrassingly affectionate with her husband and children; for the intensity and passion in her seemingly too-short life.
Though my mom is now two years past her forty-eighth birthday – significant because forty-eight was the last birthday her mother celebrated – I keep that number in my head and feel sometimes like her life is very precarious, more precarious than before she turned forty-eight. Not long ago, less than a year, one of my cousins had a mastectomy. It troubles me that Mom prayed that she would live to see both me and my sister graduate from high school. Now that she’s exceeded her “bargained” life-expectancy by almost five years, I think, “Good grief, woman! As long as you were asking, why didn’t you ask for more time? Why didn’t you ask to see your grandchildren or your great-grandchildren?” I guess that Mom’s never been one to be too greedy, even with the years of her life.
I call my mom from Chicago, and we go through her usual checklist: I assure her that, yes, I had a nice flight; yes, Trish was there to meet me at the gate; no, I didn’t meet anyone on the plane but, yes, I was wearing lipstick.
“Okay, Mom, I’m going to let you go now,” I say after a few more minutes of trivia about what I packed for warmth, how Trish is, and what we plan to do when I’m here.
“Oh, you never want to talk to your mother,” she teases, knowing that I am getting impatient.
“Mom, I love you. I’m going now.”
“I love you, too, dear.”
I place the phone back in its cradle and smile, knowing that she will be the one to meet me at the gate when I fly home.