For Mothers Day
I’ve been to the cemetery on cold rainy days with my knees sunken into the mud. I’ve spent a year trying to ignore and discover the fact that my mother is gone. I’ve sought to compartmentalize my feelings about it and at the same time not put them in a box so far away that I couldn’t reach them. The fact is, every time I open up to work through memories or something about her, it just hurts. I don’t like the way it feels and I don’t find it therapeutic but I do think it necessary. This day is hard to ignore. On her birthday or death day, I can scurry about and find distractions. I celebrate her life on those days but I also look to find busy work. Even if I ignored all the commercials and avoided entertainment leading up to Mothers Day, I can’t ignore the day.
Loss no matter how expected still comes as a surprise. As we get older and come closer to our own ending, it is still hard for us to believe that we will die. I think many people are surprised by death. I also believe that many people are surprised by loss. We see death all the time, in the news and on television but this is not someone close to us. It doesn’t feel real. It shouldn’t feel real, I don’t think that we could handle it if we had to carry the weight and burden of every death. Still, we can’t hide from it just like I can’t hide from Sunday. I can’t go anywhere without being reminded that I need to do something for her. I can’t do anything for her except share who she was and celebrate her life. I think that is the best gift I can give her. Carrying on her memory for others to learn about her.
Today for Ma, I will share a story or two about her. This is just a glimpse into the person she was and how she lived her life.
It was 1970 something, more towards the 80’s. Mom had purchased a Chevy Nova, we would find ourselves out and about in the evenings. She was not a morning person and started her day pretty late. I was in the back seat with my little sister and we were coming towards an intersection close to home. As we hit the stop light, mom rolled down her window and started yelling “stop..it!” We couldn’t really see what was happening but she hit the breaks hard and opened the door quickly. In those days, seatbelts were optional and I believe she couldn’t have been wearing one in the way she leaped out of the car. She ran up to another car and pulled a man down to the ground where she held him. At that moment, we didn’t understand what was happening but mom had seen a woman being attacked with a knife by a man and without a thought ran out and took him down. She was probably 29 or 30 years old at the time and she was strong. Once she took the man down, she held him until other people came to help and the police were called. I don’t remember how long this took but these were the days without any cell phones. It wasn’t like someone could just call a police officer. They would have had to reach a police box or made a call from a landline. I think she held the guy down for a long time. The woman was hurt and had to be taken by ambulance. There were no parades, no hero trophies, no rewards, no nothing except the satisfaction of helping another person. That’s who she was and that is what she did in action.
The image above at the top of the post is a picture of her volunteer work at the Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Service. It was a family affair to get up at all hours of the night to help firefighters by feeding them coffee, cookies, tea, and meals for others that were involved in whatever was going on at the time. My Step father Andre would wake us up and we would get up and run to the firehouse to pick up a truck and get out to serve. It was lights and sirens all the way. Ma would be front lines doing what she did best, talking to the firefighters and helping the people. When I was at sea in 1993, there was an attack on the World Trade Center. My shipmates and I were in Engineering berthing watching the global news and there she was with the disaster truck in the background talking to someone. “THAT’S MY MOMMMMMMMMM” I was worried about her but this is what she did. We lived in a time when actions weren’t captured every moment and memorialized on social media. Ma did what she did because she believed in service to people and she believed in the greater good. It is a glimpse into her life and maybe just a moment in time but Ma gave it all. If she was into something, she was all in and she made things happen. As for me, I’ll tell her stories for the rest of my life. While thinking about these cause me a lot of pain, it also makes me happy to know that in many ways, she got a lot of things right. I can still learn from her and I’ll try to be as courageous as she was in life and beyond.
Happy Mothers Day Ma, we miss you.