Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Mom and Other Three Letter Words

My mom died earlier this month, shortly before her 66th wedding anniversary and about ten days shy of her birthday which is today. A gentleman never tells a lady's age. I am not a gentleman but my youngest brother is and feels very strongly there's much to be said about saying nothing about age. I wrote these words anticipating the anniversary of her birthday, and am now reduced to celebrating the life of the woman who gave me life. I think she'd find that kinda funny.

Both my wife and I were raised in two-parent families with fathers who filled up the room when they entered and who, when they departed, left vacuums. With both Moms, I think, at least for me, I never fully appreciated how marvelous they were and are, as people, until they weren't sharing a spotlight of attention. My wife's Dad passed a couple of years back after a number of years of declining health, and the distance from here to Germany, compounded and exacerbated the heartache of that moment, I know.

My mom awoke to find her husband of over thirty years dead in their bed from the final in a series of heart attacks he never acknowledged even having, with three children younger than eighteen still under roof and in need of a home. She and my father had, as was so often the case for people of their generation, two families. 

I am 65 and my youngest brother is fifty. The 'gremlins', as the oldest children called the youngest with whom we didn't share the house, were in a precarious predicament but we, those who had flown the nest, never fully appreciated the severity of the dilemma Mom found herself in.

But, she worked without complaint or surcease, to make sure those still at home never wanted for any of their basic needs. Whatever any child needed, they would receive and she did without until she had saved enough. And if another child wanted something, then that's where her savings went and she started yet again. 

She and the gremlins had a very different relationship with one another than her oldest children had with her or with one another, and some/part/all of that dynamic was shaped by those moments and the decisions made in them all those years ago.

I could always call her for advice about our children, She never volunteered an opinion, but was there when I asked. She always seemed reluctant to do so, as if somehow her offering an insight to someone to whom she gave life could be overstepping her bounds. 

As the Amish say, 'the older I get, the smarter my parents are.' I am reduced to hoping the wisdom is hereditary and stored for safe keeping in a box someplace on a low shelf in the basement--because I sure don't have any on or near me, especially right now. 

photo by Adam Kenny
Happy birthday, Mom!
-bill kenny