Monday, April 13, 2009

5 Years Ago

I love this picture of my Mom. She's young, beautiful and looks happy.

Today marks the 5 year anniversary of my mother's death. I can't even describe how strange that is. How has so much time passed without me even being aware? Has it REALLY been 5 years? 5 years ago my life changed dramatically. It is something that none of my friends can understand, and I'm glad that they don't have to.

It really seems, in some ways, to have just been a few months ago. The acute pain has, thankfully, dulled by now. I still miss her and think of her everyday, I don't think that will ever change. There are many times when I wish I could call my Mom and ask her a question, "How do I do ____?" or "Do you remember ___?" Simple things like this remind me that she's gone, and infuriate me when others take these daily things for granted. And of course when I think of life changes that have yet to occur for me, it hurts to know that she won't physically be there. College graduation in just over a month. And somewhere in the unknown future, my wedding day or the day I have my first baby. Those are days when you really need your mom, and somehow I will have to figure it out on my own.

My Mom and I had a very interesting, mostly difficult relationship. It was never an easy relationship, we were never best friends, but we loved each other deeply all the same. I feel like, since my Mom got sick and died at such a young age (for both of us), that we never got to that "friendship" stage of our mother/daughter relationship. It was still too much of a parent/child situation, not one where we both regarded each other as women.

I know that the mother I experienced was very different than the one my older brothers did. They got the "young" energetic mom. I was the surprise "late" baby, definitely not planned for. But I was also the girl she always wanted, and I think that she liked being able to dress and style a little girl. Being the baby, I think I also got a lot more individual time than my brothers did though, even from the older, less energetic mom. I also got a very different mom than my brothers did for other reasons, I got the single, post-divorce mom. Mom who was dating, and had moved to another state to start over. I didn't grow up with "Mom and Dad" the same way they did and this changed things significantly.

But today, 5 years later, I would like to remember some of the good things about my Mom. For all of her shortcomings she was a remarkable woman in her own regard. When I was young and growing up in Alaska, she was so active and just fun, she did everything. She worked, she played fast-pitch softball, was active in Jazzercize, and had a family and a social life. I don't have the energy now, in my 20's to do all of that! Mom had the most infectious laugh, and when she really got going was so funny. She was a great cook, and had fingers that were impervious to heat and hot grease; I've never known anyone beside her to reach into a hot skillet and flip a frying tortilla with their bare fingers! She loved to travel. She loved animals, which is good, since she always wound up caring for them at home. Most of my memories of her were of her well-dressed and well-groomed for work. Nails always done, hair always curled, dress, hose, heels, the whole package. Obsession perfume, Carmax lip balm. Always thin. Playing crazy, wild, noisy family games of Yahtzee.

Now when I make it back to Oklahoma, to the small town where my parents grew up and married, I am always recognized as her daughter without any introduction given. The first question I hear, always in a Southern drawl, "You must be Donna Sue's girl?" Followed by, "You look just like her!" This used to make me uncomfortable. That strangers I didn't know, had probably never met, knew whose child I was or recognized another person in my face. Now, it's an odd compliment. I look like my mother; and when she was young, before life and cancer changed her, she was beautiful.

This was shortly before Mom's passing. It was the last time that we were all together.

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