“Come here for a second.” She crooked her arthritic finger at me, her eyes, once deep brown, now covered in grey cataracts looked up at me and said, “Pray to Peter and ask him how I can visit him in heaven.”
And this morning, my mother, the woman I honored, hero-worshiped, respected, liked and loved all my life, the woman I called Mumzy, went to start her eternal visit with Peter, as she passed peacefully.
My Mother was a month away from ninety-two when she died. A long life for a woman with strong heart, stronger soul and a peaceful, gentle beauty about her. For the past few years, she’s wanted to die. She believed in the afterlife and wanted to join her husband, family and friends who have passed before her. Toward the end of her life, her once brilliant mind was riddled with Dementia and not the life meant for her.
There is so much I can tell you about my mother. She had an amazing biography that included living through the Great Depression, three wars, civil unrest, 9/11 and numerous viruses. She was a class or two shy of a college diploma, a rarity in women in her age group. She had seven children in eleven years, with three miscarriages and nursed my always-sick-to-me father until his death. She worked full time, another uniqueness in a time where June Cleaver and Carol Brady reigned. She went as high as she could in the accounting department of a manufacturing firm. She was a union rep there, as well as the first woman to hold an executive position on the union board. Through it all, she was patient, kind, gentle and liked by everyone. These were some of the reasons why I have always been in awe of her, as a woman.
As a mother, she showed me what dedication to your spouse looked like. She served as an example of holding a large family together. She said to me once, “I am glad none of my kids ended up in jail.” But not only are we jail-free, we were educated, and bathed, and fed and housed and, most importantly, loved. Yes, she made mistakes. As a mother myself, I know motherhood is not perfection. Mothers always do the best they can with what they have and maybe better than what they had. My mother did just that … and then some.
As the youngest of her seven kids, I was her baby, something she never stopped saying. A month ago, an aide commented how much I resembled my mother, a common comment in the Assisted Living place she lived these past years. I am my mother’s daughter, no doubt. My daughter is her Busia’s granddaughter, no doubt. My mother response to the aid was with an introduction of “this is my baby”. I will forever be her baby and I am proud of that. There is a special meaning to those words, a bound I will always have with her. I was her last child. I teased her from time to time, telling her she stopped after me because I was the perfect child she wanted. She countered with, “no, I just gave up on having one”.
My mother and Peter had a mutual love for each other and perhaps it was because of their similar strengths. Their gentle kindness, their quiet, unassuming ways, their priority of family including sacrifices, and their brilliant brains were just some of the same qualities others respected in them. I never married a man like my father. I married a man like my mother.
So this morning, the second person in my life who took care of me has died in the past eight months. She has gone to visit Peter like she wanted. And I am here, left behind, trying to conjure up the strength I have never used, but one I can look to my mother and try to emulate. I am her daughter. Good-bye, Mumzy. My already torn heart rips more today with the pain of loosing you, my hero. Tell Peter I said hi and I really hope you have a nice visit with him.