Sometimes I feel like I don’t miss her enough. We had our moments when we were like oil and water – she used to say (jokingly, but in all seriousness) that we got along great as long as there were 300 miles between us. But other times, I just want to sit down over a pot of tea and have a good old chat.
She was such a free spirit; smart, clever and articulate. Ever the teacher, when I’d call on Sunday mornings, I’d say, “Hi, Mom. It’s me.”
“It is I”, she would correct. The thought of it still makes me smile. Of course I knew that was the correct way to say it. She had taught me well.
On my second trip to Ireland, at the age of 7, I began to pick up the vernacular “dis, dat, dese and dose “. But she would allow none of it – she quickly corrected my newly (and proudly, I might add) colloquial pronunciation to the standard “this, that, these and those”. There would be no uneducated speech in our household, I’m telling you!
From her, I got my love of language, learning and my fortitude. She could be the most determined person I ever knew. If she got her mind to something, neither hell nor high water could stop her. When, at 72, she suffered a major stroke that left her unable to read, she spent the next 10 years teaching herself to read again and then reading every, single evening to continue to improve. It was so difficult – she had to focus on every single word to force her damaged brain to make sense of the text, but it wasn’t going to best her. She persevered and slowly read book after book – no matter how long it took to get through them.
She loved to be free to take off in the car as she pleased and go for a drive or a walk in the woods. Nothing was worse than being tied down – she even wanted her ashes to be tossed into the Atlantic Ocean between Ireland and the United States. My dad couldn’t deal with that, so we took her to Ireland where she rests in a family plot next to a field with a view of Knockfierna, the Hill of the Fairies. I hope she likes that – it is a quiet, pretty place.
They say we become our mothers. That would not be the worst thing that could happen to me.
After her death, I moved into their house to live with my dad. I may have filled the void of loneliness and companionship, but I know he misses her. He often mentions how she did this or that. This morning at breakfast, he mentioned that today is her birthday. I hope that when I am 92, as he is now, that I shall have such a good memory.
I have never felt mom’s presence –sometimes I wish I did. But I hope that wherever she is there are open fields and forests, gardens and lots of sunshine. Happy Birthday, Mom. Miss you.