After the loss of my mother, I contemplate the ways we were alike
It has been over two months since my mother passed. So little has changed around me yet so much has changed within me. My siblings and I are now orphans in this world. It is a club I never considered joining. It sounds a bit funny, given we are all “of age” and most capable to care for ourselves.
Yet, as the oldest, I feel the hand of time upon me in a different way. I did not realize how I saw my mom as holding that space in time until now. I am still coming to terms with all that this means to me.
I miss her in innumerable ways. The little gestures, her laugh, her chiding of choices made that may lead us astray in her worldview she had constructed with the help of the Catholic church. She had sent letters to me, on occasion, in her unique European cursive style. She would write a few words, often with sacred scripture enclosed.
As my birthday arrives next week, I will not receive a card from her with the novena that she would often request in honor of my birthday. I feel sad as this awareness washes over me. There is a bit of a void despite knowing her voice still lives in me, both with the words of love and of criticism.
I hear her laugh in mine. One person at the meal following the funeral quickly commented on how a certain verbal gesture I used was just like her. In the mirror, I also see parts of her face more and more in my own face.
My father, his homeland
Yet, I find I bring in memories more of my father now as well. I reflect on the richness of my heritage. Elements of their homeland were expressed in different ways.
My father was a refugee from the former Yugoslavia. Growing up on a farm there, he created a “gentleman’s farm” here in his new home in America complete with many types of birds including the peacock and the guinea hen, ringneck pheasants and chickens, swans and geese. My father chose to never return to his homeland and embraced the United States as his home.
My mother, her garden
My mother was a seamstress, trained in France. She channeled her creativity in many ways. My mom kept many Alsatian and German recipes alive and tended an amazing garden for many years. She also created many needle points of iconic Alsatian scenes as well as Catholic tributes to Mother Mary and baby Jesus. I have her Raphael’s Angels needlepoint hanging in my grandson’s room in my home. I treasure the off white afghan she made for me many years ago. Many pictures in our home reflected the beauty of her land.
I miss both deeply; my mom more in this moment as her loss was so recent. I am less likely to tear up as quickly but I well up easily when I share thoughts about her and “how I am doing” when asked.
To the lighthouse
This is a new chapter in my life. I will share more as new layers unfold for me. I find that I have more empathy with many individuals I see who have had significant loss. I have a greater appreciation of those who have lost their parents at a much younger age than I am now. One has to create a rudder of one’s own making to navigate the waters’ of time. The lighthouse that once was there on the shore is no more to mark the rocky parts of the harbor. I have to rely on my own sonar as I approach that shore, guided by intuition and the spirits of my parents and my ancestors.