At 6:20 this morning, 17 years ago, my mother died.
My mother. My best friend. My hero. My go-to person. Undiagnosed diabetes causing heart and kidney problems threw her into health challenges at age 64, and at 70 she died. Too young.
Let me tell you about her. If you were around her you were her 100%. Kathe, who is on this blog (as teadh), knew her, and I’ll bet she would agree. In fact, I have a funny story about that. When Kathe became engaged and I showed my mom the newspaper picture announcing it, she got tears in her eyes — happy tears — and said, “Kathe’s getting married? Oh my, Kathe, my little Kathe. I can’t believe it. My little Kathe is getting married.”
I knew she was thrilled for Kathe. But I also remember my reaction: Mom, what do you mean, “my little Kathe”? I’m your little Maggie, remember?
Both Kathe and I look back on this fondly and smile. It’s a memory for me that shows how invested she was in other people’s lives. If they were happy, she was happy. If they were troubled, she went out of her way to figure out how she could best help them.
You would have wanted to sit at her table for her delicioso meals. Whether it was a simple hamburger, or scrambled eggs for breakfast, her homemade soups, or a full spread at Thanksgiving, she loved people through her cooking.
She did many things in her life, from radio broadcasting, to preschool teacher, to professional cook, to writing poetry that went to the heart of a matter and stabbed you with its point of clarity, to working in migrant centers. And she was a tireless worker. Anyone could depend on her. If the hours were 9-5, she worked 8-6 or beyond. If the job called for A, she did A, B, and C.
She loved children, animals, music, her 1967 green Mustang convertible, laughter, great food, her family, her friends, entertaining. She used to come to my brother’s and my school conferences and compliment the teachers on what good jobs they were doing. She was the Cub Scout leader and president of the PTA. She once wrote, produced, and acted in a play. When I was in high school and returned to the piano teacher who had begun giving me lessons when I was seven years old, she picked me up at school every Friday afternoon to drive me to my lesson. Never mind that it was 50 miles away, one way. And I remember that we used to stop afterward at Big Boy for strawberry pie.
She loved to love. She had challenges and sadness in her life, but somehow that chin of hers was always up, her mood happy, her helping hand out.
Seventeen years, six hours, and three minutes ago (as I write this), she moved out of this world into the next. I cannot tell you how much I miss her. The pain never leaves. Oh, you know what they say, that time heals. I prefer to say that I have integrated my mother’s death into my life.
More important, I have integrated her life into my life.
Mom, you know how much I love you. I am thinking of you especially today. You would love it. It’s 70 degrees outside and I would come over to pick you up so we could have lunch on the deck. I’d make tuna salad sandwiches and we’d have fresh fruit and iced tea. Then maybe we’d drive down to the beach to sit on the decking there to watch the waves and the gulls.
I love you.