Twelve years is a long time.
In twelve years, your kids can turn into adults. They can marry that nice guy they met, graduate from medical school, move to Calgary, have a great little boy, and start a family. They can marry that nice girl they met, become a police officer, move up North, and have a wonderful little girl and boy who are oh-so-much like their daddy. They might also wander around the world playing with computers for a while, and not really figure anything else out, but at least they’ll have stories to share.
Twelve Christmases, Anniversaries, Birthdays, Springs, Summers, Falls, and Winters, New Years and more. Twelve years of happiness, joy, wonder, pain, sorrow, and caring. That’s a lot of time, and all the while the family gets bigger, the memories get longer, and life keeps on passing by at its unrelenting pace. Unfortunately, my mom missed all this, as today marks the twelfth year of her passing.
I have very few regrets about where life has put me, despite my constant bitching about it. One of those regrets is that my mom hasn’t been able to share these last twelve years with us (directly, at least). Some days it just smacks me out of the blue for no apparent reason, and I’m overcome with grief along with anger about how unfair it all can be.
That all quickly fades, however, when I stop to think. My mom, undeniably, lives on inside all of my family. She was a huge influence in our lives, and she and my father taught us how to live, laugh, cry, and nurture one another. There were bad times for sure, but that’s not what I remember most.
I remember her smile. I remember her sense of right and wrong. I remember her sneaking out to drive the car (when she wasn’t allowed) to the store because dammit, she wanted a glass of milk, and when we came home that day she was sitting at the table with a big smile on her face with a big glass of milk, and all she said was “that’s a good glass of milk” and giggled. I remember the one time I heard her swear (she said “shit” after a guy cut her off when we lived in Bells Corners) and then blushing a little and laughing about it. I remember her telling me the story of when, as young parents, how they had forgotton to bring juice for their three year old on a picnic, so fed him white wine instead, and then agonized over how bad a mother she was for getting her three year old smashed (I call it good training). I remember her cheering the loudest out of all the other moms and dads. I remember her being a calming influence, and saving my life when my dad found out what idiotic thing his first born had done this time. I remember so much more, but mostly I remember her sacrificing everything so her kids would have every chance to make the most out of life.
More importantly, I think I understand. A huge chunk of who and what I am came from (and still comes from) her. She is in me, and my brother, and my sister, and my dad, and we in turn all try to pass a little of that along to the people we care about. How cool is that? It sure makes me realise that what I gained is so much more than what I lost. Believe it or not, I learned.
I owe my mom a huge debt, and I just wish she hadn’t gone before I had the chance to thank her for it. I especially wish that I had been able to send her on that cruise we’d always talked about. When I was “trouble(d)”, and was apologising after understanding just how badly I’d hurt her from doing something stupid and selfish, she’d always tell me not to worry, and that when I was successful I could send her on a cruise. After that, all was forgiven, and we’d try and figure out how to pick up the pieces and put them back together the right way.
She understood us all and gave us her unflagging support, never doubting that any of us would succeed. She was a cheerleader, a mentor, a crutch, a confidante, and a friend, and I’m amazed at how much love she was able to pack into the time we were with her.
To embrace the wealth of the spirit,
To revel in the wonders of life,
To think, to remember, to dream –
This is to know happiness.
– Giancarlo Di Gratsi
Today’s a day to remember but, more importantly, it’s also a day to celebrate the lasting gifts my mom gave to me, and how much I treasure them.
Thanks mom, I miss you.