Sunday, January 27, 2013

there's something about mary



I've started this post at least three times now.  Writing about my mother is not an easy task.  She is strong willed, and raised three daughters who are just as strong, in different ways.  I wanted to give her something for her birthday, on Christmas day, then decided that writing about my mom goes way beyond a birthday post.

Mom grew up in the Great Depression.  Something that is foreign to most people from the current generation, and is only familiar to my generation because we were told, over and over, how hard the Depression was.

Born on Christmas Day because of a fall my Grandma took on the ice on her way to Mass on Christmas Eve at midnight, mom made her way into the world, and was kind of puny from the get go.  Little did anyone know, she had mettle that would get her through birth and childhood, and into adulthood.
Mom had dark hair, and green eyes, and I can only imagine her as a child.  I have a vivid imagination, but because of the relationship I have had with my mother, I never really thought of her as a child.  She has always been the iron willed woman in my life, the one who was controlling when I was a teenager, so much so that a couple nights before I got married, when I foolishly thought a curfew didn't matter and arrived late (very late) home from a date with my soon to be husband, mom met me at the door and set my ears on fire with her words.  I still remember those words:

"As long as you live in my house, you will live by my rules.  Until you are married, those rules stand."

This was also the same woman, who told me on my way out the door on June 9, 1970, that she didn't want me to feel pressured to get married.  It was my choice, not because she didn't want me at home.

My mother has always been a dichotomy to me.  Someone I could never quite figure out.  Someone who I felt rushed headlong into divorce, and yet managed to raise us, and fix TVs and do plumbing when the need arose.  A woman who depended on no one to provide for her, or her girls.  A woman who taught us our work ethic, and that anything worth doing was worth doing well, and doing right.  A woman who reinforced this by dumping our dresser drawers in the middle of the floor in a pile if they weren't neatly organized according to her standards (yes, she inspected everything).

Mom was a woman I was often angry at, or hurt by.  I often thought it was because she didn't understand me.  For many years I held a lot of resentment and turmoil inside me, thinking that mom didn't really understand me, and that she was a selfish person, basically.

But now, in the past year or so, I think about other things.

About the times when I was living and working in California, driven to the brink of insanity by my sister, and mother was the voice of reason.  She never took sides.  She just listened to me, and counseled me, and made me see my sister through her eyes.  And made me realize this sister was part of me, part of my heart, and that no amount of aggravation would change our love for each other.  My mother, the person I thought had the most unreasonable temper of us all, turned out to be the person who balanced me, and centered me, who made me realize that with all our warts and imperfections, we are still all special.

All these thoughts, and feelings, jelled suddenly the other day, when Stevie Wonder brought an envelope to me at work, from my Uncle Jack.  I opened it and saw this:
Mom is on the left.  I just stared at it.  And felt like I had been hit in the chest with a brick.  When Steve left and I was alone, I began to cry.  I turned the photo over, and saw the date on the back of it.  1943.  Mom was in the eighth grade.  That is her on the left.

Suddenly, I realized.  Mary is much more than just my mom.  She has lived a life, a long life.  She was a child, and a young girl, a young woman and mother.  A woman of substance and strength.  And now she is an elder, and someone I relate to in more ways than even she or I realize.

There's something about Mary.  Something that is hard to understand, and impossible to label.  So I won't try.

I'll just say thank you Mary.  Thanks for everything.  There are no more words than that.

Except I love you.



...life is good. ~cath
find me @jonesbabie on Twitter

16 comments:

  1. What a lovely, lovely way to honor her. She sounds like an amazing woman~

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    1. She is an amazing woman Shelly. Thank you for your kind words!

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  2. Talk about bringing a tear to my eye :) You also made me think of my Mum, our misunderstandings, growing up, and how we are now.

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    1. This wasn't an easy post for me to write Janine. I am glad you were able to relate to it, and understand the intricate nature of mothers and daughters. :D

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  3. I love these kinds of posts. Thanks for sharing.

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  4. liked the post Cathy. Never thought Jenny looked like your mom until I saw the pic. of Mary as a little girl

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    1. I didn't realize it either until I looked. Guess she does look like my side of the family too! :D

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  5. Hello Cathy. It is so good to meet you and I am glad it was today so I could read this wonderful tribute to your mother.
    Parents can be complicated especially from their kid's perspective. I know my Mom was and my Dad still is is some ways! But, I hear you about just accepting that they had lives too that they had to deal with the best they could. And looking at a photo of them when were young, can be a real kick in the head to us. They were/are human just like me! lol

    Great to me you and thanks for stopping by today at my blog.
    Jim

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    1. Nice meeting you too and I am I discovered your blog Jim, it is lovely, and your photos are awesome. It's always nice to meet a kindred spirit!

      Parents are very complicated, and I am sure I am just as complicated to my children. I hope that someday, they, and my grandkids, will see who I am through this blog. That is why I started it, and why I write. For them. :D

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

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  6. Thanks for this post. It is difficult to see the person behind the parent and it certainly looks like your mum had a strong personality. A lovely tribute!

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    1. It took me my whole life to see Mary as a person. I am glad I discovered her. :D Thanks for your lovely words Muriel.

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  7. What a beautiful tribute! My mom passed away when I was 30. I was just starting to see her as a woman and I imagine she was probably doing to the same. I found out more about her childhood after she died. Cherish that you have this time together as the amazing women you both are!

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    1. Thank you for the sweet words Marie. I am glad I had the time to figure things out. My relationship with my mother has not always been the easiest. It has mellowed as we both got older. And I think we both appreciate our differences now. :D

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  8. This is so touching and makes me think of how much 'humanity' I attribute to my own parents, esp. my Mom. Like you, I heard those lines a lot ('as long as you're living in my house....") and resented it. But now, as a parent, I understand it of course. Karma, as they say, and my son's not even a teenager yet. There is always so much wisdom to be gained from our parents and as their children, it's great to feel so much gratitude in our hearts for what they continue to give to us in order to enrich our lives. We can only hope they feel that gratitude and our love for them.

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    1. We see the world differently through the eyes of parenthood, don't we Joy? I am glad I finally awakened to that wisdom. Thanks for your wonderful comments!

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