She had a way. I remember watching her from the back seat of our Cutlass Supreme, high cheeckbones, delicate jawline, the beginnings of happy lines darting from the corners of her eyes. When she spoke to my dad, her voice softened and even rose a couple octives. It was her special way that she set aside just for my dad, that let me know that he came first. I was at peace with that. That devotion comforted me. I didn’t have to be at the helm of the ship or at the top of the food chain to feel important, worthwhile, or even loved. I just needeed to know my place, and that gave me all the solace I craved as a kid.
When dad’s kidneys failed, she set aside Saturdays for she and I to escape to the local skating rink. She invested in lessons & encouraged me to throw myself into whatever made me happy & gave me a childhood. That was roller skating. I didn’t even need to think about it. Since she was the breadwinner through the week, those Saturdays served as our bonding time. She saw my need to belong to a team, and she always had a way of knowing exactly what I needed months before even I could recognize it.
Watching her run a business, manage employees, talk with potential and existing customers was a true learning experience. I remember thinking how much I admired her, and also becoming more aware of our differences. We were like a mullet, mom and I. She was the business in the front, while I was the party in the back. It wasn’t that I was ‘bad’ really. It was more that I was the one who wore her heart on her sleeve, had the worst poker face in history, and couldn’t hide anything from anyone. Ever. I am still terrible at all of that, which explains my blogging fetish.
But my mom taught me how to be a lady. She taught me that even if I couldn’t hide my emotions, I should always allow my dignity to outshine them. She taught me that class was a far more desirable trait than pretentiousness, and that the only way we could make it through the hard times was to pray – to believe in something greater than ourselves, and to believe that everyone was created in love. She taught me how to forgive, how to trust, how to love, and how I could always, always depend on her even when everyone else turned away. Which leads me to this – the pain, the grief, the never-fully-healed part of losing a mother that hung my moon.
Sure, sometimes I’m a ship lost at sea. I’m constantly trying to find a shore that has vanished entirely. I don’t want to plant my feet on any other island. It doesn’t know me, and it didn’t grow me in its womb. It sounds silly, I know. But there’s something impossible about completely cutting a cord when that cord feels more like a limb, and maybe even more like a root.
In truth, I am pretty certain I really will never be healed, but I am also pretty certain that my mom knew I needed to cut that cord, because she always knew. When she looked at me and told me that she needed me to encourage others to let go because she knew that I could help, that was HER cutting the cord for me, empowering me to have confidence, and strengthening me for the battle ahead. But then, hadn’t she spent her whole life doing just that?/