When I was a young girl there was a special woman in my life who did not care if I liked her as her role was not to be my friend. I will admit she made me mad sometimes and I did not always agree with her but I knew enough to listen to her.
There were 40 years between us and I smile thinking how she was so much different at 56 than I am today. One difference that comes to mind is she went to have her hair done every Saturday morning. Somehow she managed to keep the hairstyle neat for an entire week. It still amazes me as I wash, dry and style mine every day that she was able to do that.
Her friends were adults. And I the little girl was the daughter.
The special woman I speak of is my Mother and while we were not best friends we had enormous love for one another.
She did not sit on the floor and play board games with us, never asked us what we wanted to have for dinner but we ate what she said, she did not care to hear our complaints how it was not cool to be home by 10 and we better not ask again for the curfew to be 11 as we knew she would threaten to change it to 9. Despite my sharp tongue I knew deep down I was not the boss; she was.
During a recent conversation with my sister we spoke of how we did not hear praise and be told how wonderful we were on a daily basis but despite this we turned out pretty darn good. We were not raised on the home plate; we learned in order to hear the applause we better start running the bases. Praise was earned.
When she said No, she meant it!
When we came into contact with her friends it was mandatory to either address them as Mr. and Mrs or if they were very close friends Aunt and Uncle. For many years I could not figure out how Aunt Sophie and Uncle Charlie were related to us if they were not siblings of Mom and Dad. They were on the top of the best friends list!
We did not dress alike or listen to the same music.
I was not her friend, I was her daughter!
I was so ANGRY when I came home from my first date with Kevin all excited about how nice he was. She looked at me and told me she was happy I had a great time but I should please try not to get my hopes up. While at times her words were a bit harsh I know she was trying to protect my heart from getting hurt. In a way I also think she was protecting her heart too as she found it hard to let the daughter go.
My dad was dying of pancreatic cancer while I was preparing to leave their home to marry Kevin. I was putting on my wedding dress with my 90 pound weak father slowly dressing into his tuxedo in the next room. Mom was emotional and came to me and hugged me asking to promise that I will never forget her. She was so scared as she knew she was weeks away from being alone. I promised her I never would.
For many years I was angry as my wedding day was supposed to be happy and in many ways it was but it was filled with sadness due to Mom’s losing dad. I now understand her fears. I think we all fear the day we will be alone.
Despite being angry I always had respect.
Having a Mother and not a friend was my greatest gift.
Our last holiday together was Valentines Day 2012. I had neighbors over and I prepared heart shaped sandwiches with pink strawberry floats. We had pink candles and chocolate heart shaped lollipops. It was beautiful. I can still hear Mom yelling at me that she could not understand why I was wasting so much bread as I pressed the cookie cutter into the middle of slices and slices of bread. We all had a wonderful day. Mom was 93 but she was strong and well that day. I still have no idea why I had that Valentine’s day party as I never did this before but the next day she woke up unable to breathe and she died twelve days later. With a tube down her throat my last words to my Mother the night before she died was I love you Mom and she did her very best to answer I love you too.
At her funeral I was proud when reciting the eulogy I wrote. I felt blessed that I was standing on the alter of the church for which I grew up, had all my sacraments as well as attended Mass every Sunday. Here I was saying goodbye to my Mother and with tears down my face I stared at the aisle I walked down to marry Kevin having promised her before I began the journey that I would never forget her. I kept my promise and was at peace being able to say those words that morning. You were never alone!
Mom raised my sister and I to be best friends and we know we have our Mother watching over us every day as she always did. Something tells us that her hair is in perfect place too as I am sure the first place she found was the beauty shop!
No, I was not her friend, but I am incredibly proud to say I was her daughter.
Editor’s Note: Visit AFL member Donna Ryan at her website: http://www.50plusstickingtogether.com/. She says, “I have always thrived on inspiration. I love reading it everywhere I can find it. I am 56 and it has been a journey with many twists and turns. I invite all 50+ women to join me in discussions on this second chapter. Our road ahead is fun and exciting because these truly are the best days of our lives.”