My mom. I miss her. She was many things: Irish mother of the year, beautician, wife, nana, den mother, girl scout leader, a nurse in the army, and the list goes on and on. But, above all that, she was my mother.
We didn’t always see eye to eye, and there were times when I did not always agree with her. However, she was my mother, and she raised us all as best she could. She worked hard raising 8 children in that house with only 4 bedrooms and 1 bathroom. (Looking back, that house seemed so huge when we were little.)
She worked hard at home, and when needed, she worked hard outside of the home. We didn’t always have what we wanted, but we always had what we needed. Did I agree with every decision she ever made, or every punishment she put forward? No. Did I agree with every “harsh” word when she would tell us like it is? No. Did I dare question any of it? No. Did I disrespect her in any way? No. Did I try to “punish” her just for revenge, or make her feel guilty for anything? No. Why? Because she was my mother…..not my buddy, not my pal. And everything she did, everything she fought for, was for the good of us kids. She wanted us to be the best adults we knew how to be. Being a mother does not come with an instruction manual. The last thing my mother and I did together was plan the Roland family reunion in 2001. A few weeks later, she was dead. Love your mother and respect her…..because some day, you may not have her around.
Last night was chalk full of dreams. This one involved my mom, the house I grew up in, and the ghosts that inhabited that house.
I was asleep in my old room at 548, the house I grew up in. We were waiting for the folks to get home from their New Years Eve celebration. I come out to find my mom sitting in her rocking chair next to the big 3 windows in the living room. I took a seat on the couch next to her.
She said “Can you tell? The spirits are not happy with the work that was done.” I said “What do you mean?” She replied “Just wait, you will see.” Suddenly, the vase that was sitting on the little end table between the couch and the rocking chair went toppling to the ground. She said “See? They are upset this time. They won’t hurt you, but they miss the house the way it was. They need somewhere to go.”
Suddenly, off to my left, I catch a glimpse of someone running past me. Dressed in brown, this someone ran through the doorway into what used to be my old room, and what was eventually my parent’s room.
“Mom, did you see that?” Mom said, yes and she was looking for somewhere else to go. “She’s lost” said Mother. “She wants to follow you. She’s just lost.”
23 years ago, I rode to the hospital on an ambulance (my very first ambulance ride). You see, I was in labor, and much to everyone’s surprise (but not mine)…I almost had my 3rd child at home on the toilet. (Because the hospital didn’t believe I was in labor earlier). The ambulance left my house at 02:15 on July 17th 1992. I asked the paramedic “You ever delivered a baby before?”…he said “No, but I saw my partner do it once.”….I said “Oh, that’s just feckin’ great.” I hee hee hee hoo’d all the way, not stopping for any red lights. We got to the hospital at 02:25, and I had to direct the paramedic to the mother baby unit (Seems he’d never been there either). They called the dr, who got there just in time to put on his catcher’s mit at 02:43 am to catch a 10 lb baby girl as she swiftly made her arrival. The staff was running around like chickens with their heads cut off (Which I told them they would be doing when they sent me home earlier) I’ll never forget it….and to all the staff who sent me home 23 years ago saying “Oh, you’re not in labor yet”…well, I can only say this…”I feckin told ya so!” I named her Emily, which means industrious one. That is oh so true. She was, and is, a beautifully busy girl. And people do like you when you are 23….
14 years ago, July 17th, 2001…I got a call that every child dreads. “This is your dad, and I have the paramedics here giving your mother CPR”….that call plays over and over in my head. She just dropped dead that day, on my daughter’s 9th birthday. The very next day, I had the family over for a very happy birthday party….that is what my mom would have wanted. The last time I heard my mother’s voice was on my answering machine when I got home after she passed. “Kelly, this is your mother, call me when you get home.” We had been on vacation and she called before we got back. This was before the days of commonplace cell phones. I happened to come home early from vacation…I wanted to be home by 2:30 pm. I walked in the door at 2:15 pm and within 2 minutes came that dreaded phone call from my dad. Don’t let the last time you hear your mother’s voice be on an answering machine, or a voice mail…..If she calls, and you are around answer it….because gosh, you just never know when will be the last time you talk to her.
As moms, when our children are little, there was no boo boo we couldn’t fix. Be it with a kiss, a bandaid, a little washing, an ice cream cone, a quarter, the list goes on and on. There comes a time in a mom’s life when she realizes “Hey, I cannot fix this kid’s boo boos anymore.” When she realizes that…well, it’s not an easy moment. Her child is not a child anymore, but an adult, or very near adulthood. Some of the boo boos she used to fix were skinned knees, loose teeth, a bump on the ole noggin, a fever, the list goes on and on. Now, the boo boos are a bit more complex than that, and there is a point in life when she realizes that no matter what she does, the boo boos of her now grown child can be fixed by nobody else but that child. Her child could be at the point of losing everything. At that point a decision must be made. Does she keeping trying to “fix” it, especially if that means the “fixing” may be enabling? Or does she finally say enough? Making the decision to say enough is so difficult for a mom. So very difficult. Telling her child “I am done….nobody can fix you but you.” is possibly the hardest thing a mom can say. Sitting and waiting to see if the child decides he/she is worth fixing him or herself is not easy either. But she does, and hopes for the best and tells herself that sometimes tough love is what is necessary to get her child to see the light, even though it is killing her inside and she cries because she just wants her child to be ok again. She wants those boo boos fixed.
May 10th, 1959…mother’s day. A beautiful young wife (from Ireland) and her movie star handsome American husband were ready to welcome their first born into the world. At about 5:30 am (or so the story goes), this beautiful young wife became a mother for the first time to a bouncing 9 lb baby girl. The story is also told that this baby girl was born already lifting up her head because she was about a month overdue. The doctor said, “Well, Josephine, say hello to your month old newborn.” They named her Kelly (after her grandmother O’Kelly in Ireland). The rest is history. This year, her birthday falls on Mother’s Day yet again, and I have to say it makes her a little sad.
Happy mother’s day mom from your very first Mother’s Day present. I surely do miss you. “I love you forever, I like you for always, as long as I’m living, my mommy you’ll be.”
Wednesday, they laid someone to rest. Her name is Brenda. I knew her as Brenda, but I also knew her as Trudy’s mom. The rest of the people here know of her as the mother of Trudy Appleby, the Moline girl who went missing 18 years ago. Brenda was a very softspoken, sweet person and Trudy was her only child. She spent the last 18 years of her life looking for her daughter…never knowing where she was, or what happened to her, but never completely giving up the hope that Trudy is out there somewhere still, and that we would one day find her. Brenda met with a tragic fate, and left this Earth very unexpectedly, as she was hit by someone driving under the influence. She passed never knowing the truth about what happened to her daughter, and her family is now dealing with another unexpected, sudden loss. I know, that out there somewhere is someone who knows the truth about what happened to our little Trudy 18 years ago. That someone has chosen not to come forward as of yet, and in turn caused 18 years of the pain of not knowing. Now a mother has passed, never to have found her answer to her question of where her daughter is. What will it take for that someone to come forward? I don’t know how that someone sleeps at night, and quite frankly, now…I hope they don’t.
This dream starts with me trying to call my mom on the phone. It’s important that I speak to her because I am calling in sick for work. The person on the other end of the phone tells me to find the wise old owl in the tree and I will find my mom. I walk and walk until I come to this huge tree on the property of what appears to be a farm of some sort. This old owl pops his/her head out of the hole at the top of a mighty oak and tells me my mom has been in the tree with the owl for some time and is now one with the tree. While I can’t see my mom, I talk to her and hear her speaking back to me, although I don’t recall what was said.
After speaking to my mom, the owl disappears and I am in a barn of sorts, and there are people everywhere. It seems they are there for some sort of festivity and I see my siblings, my dad, my kids, and my grandkids. I look out the big barn door and see my youngest grandson with my daughter. They are all dressed up, B in a little shirt and tie, looking like a little man. He comes and sits in my lap outside the barn on the grass, and we fall over laughing. He tells me he is going to a party at the house across the way. Then, his grandpa comes out from behind a house dressed in a white tank top and a black mesh shirt (NOT a good look) and old ripped jeans. I send B off with his momma and say to his grandpa “You know, years ago I would have been afraid to say this, but not anymore. Where the hell did you get that outfit? You look like an 80’s lipsyncer, or someone in an Olivia Newton John video. You look terrible. You will never keep a woman dressed in a fishnet shirt, what the hell were you thinking? Now go dress like a man and stop embarrassing yourself.”