12 Days of Christmas: Tributes to My Mom (2015)
I want to thank everyone for allowing me this forum to pay tribute to my mom over the last month. It is with joy and sadness that I share the “12th Day of Christmas” entry. This has been a prelude to a memorial website which I plan to finish and share soon which will give others the opportunity to share their own memories of my mom. My desire has been to honor my mom and also find a constructive way to work through my grief. I have been happy to hear people share that reading these has helped them work through some of their own grief. I must say that my mom’s passing has changed me in profound ways I never imagined, and inspired me to do things I never saw myself doing.
For those who know me and/or my mom, they could have very well been a bit surprised by the total love fest in my posts. Those close to us knew that our relationship (like most mother/daughter relationships but maybe a bit more than the average) had its ups and downs. We worked hard to get along better and accept each other and the choices that the other sometimes didn’t like. I can honestly say that the relationship we had last three years of my mom’s life, though not perfect or without pain, was the Hallmark card relationship I had always prayed for.
There is a metaphysical belief that says our parents are the exact manifestation of what we asked for in another life or something to that effect. I guess it’s similar to the Christian belief of God giving us the parents we need. I remember thinking, “are you sure,” during painful seasons, but with my mom’s passing and my subsequent reflection, I have come to believe this with every ounce of my being. One of the beautiful aspects of death is that it causes you to reflect on all that is good and all that you miss about the person you have lost. I would say the most difficult aspect of my mom’s passing has been having regrets about not spending more time with my mom. Then and only then have I forced myself to remember the bad, and that aside from me being too busy and selfish, there were issues that made it hard for me and my mom to be together at times. I have had to forgive myself for all the ways I fell short and for taking so long to figure stuff out, and I have found freedom in the belief that my mom has now surely forgiven me and washed my failures with grace and understanding that knows no bounds.
I think my mom and I often struggled with feeling in some way rejected by the other. The very thing we wanted from the other is what we needed to give each other, acceptance and permission to be ourselves. I think the longer I live, the more I realize that my mom and I were alike in more ways than I ever imagined. These tributes have touched on this over again. After years of considering myself a conservative and arguing with my mom about it, I have become in the last decade what most consider a liberal just like my mom. My first 40 years of life I was told I look just like my dad with hair. The last ten I have been told I look just like my mom.
A year ago summer my mom moved from Atlanta for the first time in her life. It was an emotional day. I took her some flowers that a client had given me, and she kept commenting on how they looked like leftover flowers and were droopy. (She worked for a florist when she moved to Atlanta as a young lady). I eventually had to remove them and take them to a lobby area for others to enjoy because obviously she was not. She was making me laugh in the midst of tears. In between packing and when we were alone, I took the opportunity to capture her on video and audio. I “accidentally” captured one of my most prized possessions that day…an audio that I have played over and over. She shared, “I feel peaceful with I am with you, with some others I feel like I have to be who they want me to be.” We agreed that this was exhausting. She went on to say, “you are easy to be with and I feel blessed to have had this much time with you.” Yes, I waited my whole life to hear that, and it was worth the wait.
On the 12th day of Christmas, my dear mom gave to me……
ACCEPTANCE, HEALING, FORGIVENESS, JOY, GRATITUDE AND PEACE.