Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Portrait of a Mother

We had been trying to get together for weeks to have coffee.

But you know how life goes.  The busyness of it all seems to get in the way.

So, after a coveted long run for me and crazy errand running for her, we finally connected. 

Me holding a cup of java and she holding a steaming cup of chamomile, we looked each other in the eyes.

Not that it matters much, but we look quite similar.  I was born when she was 23-years old and so, to me and I suppose to the world, she's always been a "young mother."  She also sounds like me...or maybe I should say that my voice mirrors hers, except she's more sugary than I am...if that's possible.

She and my father divorced when I was four years old and my brother was two-weeks old and so, for most of my growing up, she was a single mother.  Dropping out of college to marry my dad meant that when she was doing it on her own, she held down factory jobs doing assembly line work, usually working the "second shift," from, we didn't see a lot of her.

I remember that her hands were usually cracked and she was constantly tired.  It was tough to juggle putting food on the table and keeping reliable babysitters for me and my brother, but she did it.  Not perfectly by any stretch, but she did it.

Sitting across from her now, me at the age of 37 and she at the age of 60, I was enamored.

My mother is an incredible woman. 

And as I looked, really looked at her it became more clear why.  Throughout all of the suffering, the failed loves, the disappointments, and the doubts....she is a survivor and not just a shadow walking the earth waiting for something better.

When you look into her eyes, she greets you with joy.  Her eyes shine and her heart says, "I'm here for you."  And she is beautiful and loving not just to me, but to all who have the opportunity to cross her path.

And so, when she pulled out her will and testiment papers and said, "I'm just doing this so that someday, you and your brother and sisters won't have to be burdened," I started to tear up inside.  And I wanted to say, "Now, that I'm old enough to finally appreciate you....please live for a very long time, so that we can have many, many more of these coffee chats.  I love seeing you, finally, maybe for the first time."

But I didn't.  Instead, I assured her that she'd be here for many moons to come and that I wanted her wedding ring.  We both laughed.  Smiled.  Paused.  And knew somewhere deep in our hearts that the relationship between a mother and a daughter is like none just sometimes takes years to embrace it.

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