This entry will be a little different from the others. Or, more accurately, this entry will be a little more sentimental than the other entries. Either way, what I am about to report to you is what I have found which helps me keep my love alive. This helps me keep my hope that wherever they are, they can see me in a good light and that, of course, they’ll be proud.
Who do you mean, you ask?
Well, I guess I should get to it and make myself clear. . .
The following context is not about me, per se; but at the same time, this is about where I came from.
Perhaps it would be more accurate for me to explain that this is about where and whom I came from. This is more than the strength of endurance. This is about the ability to withstand regardless of what happens, who responds and how life treats us.
I was once a child which I know is obvious. I can also say that I was not typical or the description of an easy child. Of course, anyone who is familiar with my background would consider this obvious as well. However, there are lessons we learn from our early stages of life which we carry with us. There are also memories that we hold for as long as we live. We carry this with us as well.
Although faded through time, there are memories that we carry into our older ages. These lead us to emotions that build with a warm sentiment and loving regard. We have this yet we find this to be bitter sweet. As we grow, our memories are a link to the deeds of our life and the connection we share with the people we love.
I can say that, yes, I was a handful throughout my life and some might suggest that I still am. I can say that, yes, I had several phone calls to my parents. I was not a good student and, at the time, our school system lacked the ability to support students such as myself.
However, through it all and throughout my wild antics, throughout my wild youth, and throughout the downfalls and tragic accidents (one of them was a motorcycle accident without a helmet), I had the benefit of a Mother who was there at all times. She might not have always been happy about this and she might not have handled our situations at a textbook level; however, rain or shine, good or bad – Mom was there.
Currently, I am sitting in a life which my Mother has never seen. Mom passed before a lot of my successes. Mom was never there to see some of my achievements. Of course, there is always someone who has the need to reach out to me and say, “Trust me, she sees you,” which is great and kind but that does not mean this is helpful.
I say this because Mom’s presence in spirit is not quite as comforting as it would be if Mom’s presence was here, alive, and at my dinner table. Know what I mean?
Nevertheless, Mom never had the chance to see my recent accomplishments. Then again, if Mom were here, she would probably tell me something like, “I’ve always believed in you, son.” I can say this is true – even when I didn’t believe in myself, Mom always did.
So, then why?
Why is Mom here in this entry?
Well, I’ll tell you why.
I am writing this journal which I hope to place in a compilation of entries and then release this to the world. I am sitting in front of a computer during the early hours of the morning. My day starts early so therefore, I have to wake up early to ensure that I follow through with my commitments. Plus, I want to complete this journal and after this entry, I will get in my car and head to the heart of the City which never sleeps.
I have more than one job. In fact, I have more than two. However, and again, this is not about me. No, this is about the woman who brought me into the world. This is about the person who raised me, who helped me define my advantages as well as my disadvantages, and this is about the woman who helped me to become the man I am today.
This is about a woman who saw me through hospital stays. This is about a person who stood by me at the worst of times, who stayed up for me, who fed me, who nurtured me (even when she shouldn’t have) and, of course, this is about a woman who ran a company in a male dominated industry and never backed down.
This is about someone who opened a business from the sidewalk in Jamaica, Queens, New York. This is about a person who endured a lonely childhood after losing her Father when she was only 10 years-old. This is about someone who lived with a Mother (my Grandmother) and who endured my Grandmother’s challenges with mental health, anger and abusiveness. This is about a high school girl whose struggles with lonesomeness grew worse because the one time she didn’t go out with her friends, they all died in a car wreck, which happened out in the desert. This about a woman who left a little town in Carlsbad, New Mexico, who flew across the world, who worked as a stewardess, who worked in corporate settings, who worked with and knew the actress Joan Crawford (I have the picture and the greeting card somewhere to prove this) and, moreover, this is about my Mom, whose anniversary with angels is today, seven years ago from this journal entry.
Mom lost her husband (my Father) in 1989. I watched the world and Mom’s history of events as they picked her apart. At the end, Mom had five painfully degenerative diseases in her spine. She was far from the upright woman who raised me or fought for fairness and equality.
She was far from her physical and mental stature when she was a contractor for the New York Housing Preservation and Development. She was not the woman who delivered proposals and ensured those whose homes needed heat and repair would receive this and more.
No, towards the end, Mom was hunched forward. Her spine was in the shape of a forward “S”.
Mom’s healthcare was not what we had hoped and as her healthcare proxy, my position was to keep my Mother in the best care possible and as comfortable as possible.
Somehow, throughout every loss and regardless of pain, Mom refused to give way and above all things, this is strength. This is not to say Mom was perfect by any means. No, this would be inaccurate to say about anyone. However, imperfections included, I can say this clearly, honestly and wholeheartedly – my Mom was better than your Mom!
I write this to you with both a smile and a tear in my eye. However, I write this respectfully without any hesitation and with all of my heart because the person who taught me most about manhood was a woman who was unafraid.
She was unafraid to try, to work and whether she won or lost, Mom was truthful about life. She’d tell me, “No one ever promised you a rose garden.”
She’d tell me that not all people are going to play fairly. She’d tell me that life is going to hurt. Make no mistake about it.
Mom was challenged towards the end. She told me she was afraid. She told me she was afraid to let go of the pain in her spine. She was afraid to let go of the depression she felt. “Because what if I let go of the pain and it all comes back?”
I use this as an analogy because this is a perfect way to describe me as a young man and even now (as a not-so-young man). I can relate to this understanding. I can see where I’ve held on and how finding the strength to “Let-it-go” can be a challenge.
There are times when I am afraid to let go of the past. There are times when I am afraid to let go of the pain or the anger because what happens if I let go and the past comes back again? What happens if I let go of the pain and the pain comes back again?
I use this analogy because the anticipation of our fears and the fears of our pain or sadness can often be worse than the pains and the fears themselves.
Upon the moment of Mom’s death, I came to the understanding of her finality. Then again, I remembered one true thing: There is nothing in the world so strong as a Mother’s love.
I know this because she told me so. I know this because in spite of our challenges and the difficult times and arguments, deep down, Mom was always there and Mom will always love me.
Mom passed on a sunny afternoon in South Florida. She was accompanied by her two sons. Mom went as she requested; to go naturally and not to be kept alive by any artificial machinery. I know this because it was me who had to sign the papers to take Mom off of life-support.
As she left, I envisioned Mom as she was at the time before she slipped away- in her chair with her head bent forward – the top of her back hunched, her eyes expressing the detachment that comes from the opioid mixtures and pain management.
In my head, I can see Mom transform. Suddenly her head was free to lift. Her eyes were free from pain. She was reversing the process of age and suddenly, Mom was young again. She had the freedom to move her arms. She had the freedom to sit comfortably – and in a scene like a whirlwind, Mom was youthful.
She was able to stand. I envisioned this scene like a movie – as Mom arose from her chair, the scene flashed to an old, empty dance hall. Mom was dressed in a sparkling dress, long gloves and sparkling tiara.
Overhead were the swirling lights and entering the room, I dreamt that my Father entered the room, dressed in his tuxedo. Finally, after years of being apart, the two were together again. Finally, the two were free to dance with one another on the dance floor wherever they may be.
I believe I can hear the song “Dancing Cheek to Cheek,” in my head as I imagine my Mother and Father, reunited, and dancing once more – cheek to cheek.
I had to find this vision in my head. I had to feel this because I am not a person who visits cemeteries. No, this is where dead people live. Instead, I come here or I go to places like the beach – I go to places where the sadness does not grip my heart; but instead, I find peace because to me, I have found that this is where the people I love can live forever. Quite simply, sometimes I am just a boy who needs his Mom.
She told me that she will always be here for me. She has to be because Mom told me this. She told me nothing is so strong as a Mother’s love. While I can’t see her the same way or hear her voice, I know that Mom would never leave me. I know this because she told me so. That’s why I am placing her here in this journal entry – to celebrate her, to commemorate her and to, above all, show that I have not forgotten her or anything she has taught me.
Sleep well, Mom.
And say hello to Pop for me.
Tell him I hope he’s proud.
I hope you are too . . .