My Grandmothers hands were beautiful. As she worked her dough, they moved with a grace, strength, and an expertise that only a woman who has done this ritual countless times could. Even as a young girl I understood this, it was impossible not to see the decades of experience and love shaping and molding these little delectable treasures. Her kolacky cookies, a decade later, has yet to matched, no matter how I’ve tried.
My Mother too, her hands were delicate and fine. I remember thumbing through her wedding album over and over and thinking the stunning young woman with the small hands and the wedding gown with sheer long sleeves looked just like a vision of a princess. She wouldn’t have looked out of place strolling in a castle with her big, kind brown eyes and bashful smile. Both woman had a regal grace and air that is near impossible to replicate by mere desire. Something you are born with I suppose. They were women who dressed elegantly, with care. Not out of vanity but because they were ladies. Both came from backgrounds of hard work and trials that most of us would shrink from. They were as strong as they were beautiful.
Friends and family have been kind and attentive all morning, it is the first Mother’s Day without my Mom. Truth be told, it feels like every other day. I miss her, not because it is Mother’s Day, but because I miss her to my core every day. Every day I go through the revelation that she is gone. She has been gone approaching a year now, but every single damn day at some point I must push myself in into a realm of reality that I still cannot fathom completely. Like I truly sit there and marvel at the fact she has died as if I am learning it for the first time. I thought at some point it wouldn’t be surreal, yet here we are. Is this normal? Shouldn’t my grief be farther along? Who can say? I see others in their mourning, sad and grieving, yet here I am like an idiot disbelieving waiting for someone to let me in on the joke and say, “Never mind, here she is. Silly, there isn’t a world that you exist in without her.” In fact, I dream about that on occasion. She will walk in and we will come to find out we were wrong after all, because here she is just as she always was. The thing is, these women were so a part of my reality, that maybe I haven’t adjusted to what actually IS right now. The world is just off.
I suppose that is what being a mother is. They are our world, they are our everything. Like one of my favorite poems by W. H. Auden.
She “was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.”
Many say she is still here, she is looking down on me or something to that effect. But she is not here. Not here to tell me that I shouldn’t wear those shoes with those pants, to laugh at my Dad when he says something suddenly with a southern twang, or to tell me I am doing motherhood just fine and not to worry so much. I guess what I am getting at is mothers are more than just a loving entity or a family unit we grow out of and away from. They are the moon that orbits us, ever influencing who we are, the touchstone to bring us back to our true selves when we forget and lose our way. As a mother myself, that realization gives me a whole different approach to what I say and do for my own son. So, on this Mother’s Day, I finally understand how much a part of me these two women were and what that means to be a mother myself. Funny isn’t it? Even though they are gone, they continue to teach me lessons that no else really can.
In the end when my mother was at her sickest, we were out and about and I stopped with her to let her rest, letting the group go ahead. She said, "Thank you, you always stay with your Mommy." I laughed because it should be a given that I wouldn't leave her and said, "Of course." What I should have said was, "Always, my heart" because that's what we want to be sure of as mothers, that we are our children's "always". Happy Mother’s Day, and if you are lucky enough, hold onto that lovely lady of yours and make sure she knows that she will always be a part of you, the best part.