It is hard to believe that it has been more than 20 years since my mother passed. There are still days when something happens with the kids or grandchildren that I don’t automatically want to pick up the phone and call her. But as much as I miss her, these are not sad moments for me as it reminds me of how much she meant to me in my life. When this happens now, it brings a smile to my face, and I talk to her as if she were here.
It is hard to believe that it has been more than 20 years since my mother passed. There are still days when something happens with the kids or grandchildren that I don’t automatically want to pick up the phone and call her. But as much as I miss her, these are not sad moments for me as it reminds me of how much she meant to me in my life. When this happens now, it brings a smile to my face, and I talk to her as if she were here. This not only brings me comfort, but in my philosophy in life, there is a strong belief that she just might be listening.
Things are so different than when I was a child. My brothers, sisters and I led pretty sheltered lives. As a young child, I think back and am glad for this as I led a carefree childhood. Although I went through some traumatic times in life beginning as a pre-teen and was unable for many reasons to talk to my parents about it, I hold very few regrets. Whether or not they ever knew the things that happened to me, they were always there for me. And I knew that without doubt.
Parenting never ends, and in my world today, we are a very open family when it comes to discussing what used to be taboo subjects when I was a child. Part of me loves this, and the other part of me hates it. Right now, I am living with some of my children and grandchildren. We have an extremely open relationship that began when they were very young and I believe that giving them the ability to talk to me about anything, at any age, is a tremendous part in how close we are as a family.
It pains me to have to talk to my granddaughter about the sex trafficking trade, but in this day and time, it is essential, even though she is just hitting her preteen years. We treat our children as children when it comes to playing, exploring the imagination and allowing them to feel free in self-expression. But when it comes to the reality of the world that we live in, we are open even to the youngest in explaining things they don’t understand and try to convey it on a level they can comprehend. This is something that I did not have as a child being so sheltered. When I had tough questions about life, I went to my older sister, not my parents.
But as a parent, I realize that it was me that would not talk to them, and firmly believe that if I had, good or bad, they would have been there for me. But this trend of overprotection, I still see today in many of our youth. They have to go outside of parents to ask the really hard questions, and in doing so miss out on many things that their parents know, have experienced and the wisdom that comes from that. So, if I were to have any regrets, it was that I was too afraid, ashamed or embarrassed to talk to my mother about the tough things in life. I think if I would have taken that first step in communications, our relationship would have been much more intimate and I would have known my mother more as a person. She was and will always be “Mama” to me, and for that I am grateful beyond expression. But there were some things that I did not even know about my mother until after she died.
My father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease when I was 19. That goes back to the late 70s. I knew that my mother went to support group, but I had no idea until her funeral that she single handedly instigated the first Alzheimer’s support group in Montgomery, Alabama. Not only that, but the state. And the support group grew from her grass roots needs for support in losing her husband very slowing, one day at a time.
As an artist and loving art, I knew that my father could draw because he was always drawing the bomber babes that you saw on WWII aircraft. And he was good. But it wasn’t until the family went through my mother’s belongings that I found out that she was an extremely talented artist beginning at a very young age. These are just a few of the things that make me wish that I had taken the steps to bring our communication past the mother and son relationship. Once they are gone, the chance is no longer there.
So this Mother’s Day, spend some time with mother, whether she is biological or not, it really does not make a difference. If she loves you, raised you or is the only motherly figure you have, get to know the person behind the mom. Don’t ruin her Mother’s Day, but start taking the first steps at better communication. And although it might not be easy, because it never was easy for my mother and me, it will bring you closer. There is a confidant of love in a mother that you can call your best friend.