Mother’s day has come and gone. It’s a year of firsts for my dear husband, and this was one of them: Mother’s day after her passing. I can sympathize as I’ve already been through it. It’s a sad moment when you realize that one of the things you and your beloved have in common is the passing of a parent. So I have tributes to the women gone from our lives.
My mother was a spit-fire of a woman. She was strong and brilliant, but at times she allowed herself to be weak and had doubts as any of us do. She frequently would bear the brunt of decisions she made in the past and while she wouldn’t harp on them or complain to anyone, she’s confide in me from time to time, just to get it off her chest and vent her dissatisfaction with choices she’d made. She raised us the best that she could, being a single mother most of the time. She never neglected our daily needs, but often felt that she did when it came to her own needs. She still longed for love, hoping to find the right man for her life. She was a woman, a strong woman, a proud woman.
When we were growing up, she took a hard-line with our rearing. She was mother and father after all and needed that respect. She didn’t hit us often but she had no reservations to giving us a swat on the ass from time to time, when we darn well deserved it. More often than not it was ‘the look’. She had this particular ‘look’ which she used on us when we were getting out of hand and standing on the precipice of getting a swat. My sister has tried to emulate it, but we found it far too funny, even my mother did. So, she disciplined us more by threat than by physical swatting. And we respected her. It was pretty rare to mouth off to her because she could certainly hold her own and you just knew, you were going to lose.
She was an affectionate mother too. She enjoyed hugging us, and a kiss on the cheek was always accepted. I remember, as a young man, she would often drag out her accordian and we’d spend a Saturday evening singing with her playing. Yes, this little 5′ 4″ woman played the accordian, and she played it well. Of course, she played it sitting down because if she stood up with it, she’d fall face first with the weight of it. She made sure that we had a lot of culture in our lives. She liked to take us to museums and galleries. We often went to movies and when older, she would even go to the clubs with me. Naturally all of my friends wanted her to adopt them, she was loved by my gay friends.
She worked hard, and sometimes too hard. Weekends were for her kids but there were times that she had to work so she’d drag us to the office and let us draw or write, or even help her with her work. She did this just so we would all be together, even though she was working.
One of the best things which she bestowed upon me was my self-respect. When she found out I was gay, she went all hysterical, as mothers do. She questioned the why’s and how’s, what did she do wrong along the way, and all of this self-doubting about how she raised me. In the end, she realized this is just how I am and it didn’t make a lick of difference. She just wanted me to be safe and happy, which is all that a mother should really hope for their child. And I was. And I am.
My mother in law is more of a mystery. I didn’t have as much time to get to know her but what I know of her makes me smile. She was a simple woman in comparison to my own mother. She was giving and caring, always putting others before her. She allowed herself to be silly more than my mother would. In a way, the contrast is quite drastic. She discussed things with my husband which my mother and I wouldn’t dare to, especially about personal issues (lady parts). She obviously did darn well by her son, because he’s one of the most amazing men that I’ve ever met. She was highly protective of her family, ready to stand up to anyone that dared threaten any harm. Quite similar to my mother in that regard: a woman who nailed a man to the windowsill with a butcher knife when he tried to break into our home; the same woman who cut apart her ex-husband’s car with a samurai sword when he wouldn’t pay his child support that he owed her. Compared to my mother, his mother was sedate.
These two miraculous women are no longer in our lives but always in our minds and hearts. Together we carry their legacy by being strong and self-assured that they imparted on us the wisdom of the ages. Our love for our mothers shall never diminish and we’ll always cling to the memories of having them here, but not with sadness. We’re both sad that they aren’t here to share every day, but we know that the two of them are smiling at us from afar. If they are sitting down to a cup of coffee and tea, I’m sure that they’re bickering about how we’re extravagant or bragging about one or the other.
I suppose there’s a lot of ‘keeping up with the Jones’ going on in the afterlife.
To my mother and his, to our aunts and grandmothers, a happy mother’s day from our earthly bounds to your heavenly souls. You’re never far from our hearts, and your lessons are put to good use every day.