Or So I Thought

Why did I secretly and silently yearn to be one of those “older teenage girls” when I was but a young shy ten-year old? They were so much cooler than me. They walked with confidence and had many friends and knew what to expect of the world around them- or so I thought.

Why did I impatiently desire to be one of those “older college girls” when I was but a young and insecure high school student? They were so much cooler than me. They lived a carefree life, made their own rules and walked their own paths. They had the world by the tail and life was filled with possibilities and freedom- or so I thought.

 

Why did I eagerly desire to be one of those “married girls” who sported a diamond ring and a doting husband.  Anticipating a family and a house to call my own as I endlessly grazed through magazines at long wedding dresses and dog-eared my favorites. My name repeatedly written adding his last name  in a fancy longhand script complete with extra loops and swirls. Surely a fulfilled, dreamy life- or so I thought.

 

Why did I passionately yearn with desire to be a professional woman when I was still a new mother and wife.  Those women in suits and pressed collars with a daily destination that was so different from mine.  They were driven, successful and had a career attached to their identity. I too wanted to make my mark in the world in some way. I wanted my family to be proud of me and my children to see that they could reach for the stars and achieve. Success defined who I am- or so I thought.

 

Why do I now so desperately desire to live in the moment? No longer anxiously striving to see beyond the mist of tomorrow. Could it be that I have learned a lesson or two along the way? Why those teenage girls had no more confidence than me. They were looking ahead and wishing to be that dauntless college girl. Yet those college girls had learned that they do not make up all the rules and life is not so carefree when you are struggling with limited funds and long nights of studying. Ah and the married girls ….a tough new world when learning to share the good and bad with a partner. Babies crying in the night, bills to be paid and learning the rules of give and take. The professional women… in suits and high heels paid more that the price of their clothing. Obligations of work did not make the sleepless nights and responsibilities of parenthood any easier.  I find my mark in the professional world is but a carved groove in my soul. A personal knowledge of life that I have earned and value more that the money paid by my salary…yet even a well-defined career has rough edges to wear down.

 

So now…my deepest desires are quite simple. To live today…smile today…play today…breathe today…love today and reflect on yesterday with awe and gratitude for the journey I have taken. I am still that little girl deep inside but I have confidence, I walk my own path, I love my marriage, and I marvel at my children…as they reach to fill their dreams and desires and anticipate tomorrow. I define who I am…no one else. It has been a whirlwind trip to reach this epiphany. Some days were real struggles and still are from time to time. While I still make plans for tomorrow and the days after, I now know that today is the real gift from the universe- it is the present and I strive to unwrap each day with patience, reverence and awe…and love.

 

My Dear, Dear Auntie

Even though she walks with the deliberate, slow steps acquired with age and arthritis, she continues to move forward. Her hands may search about grasping the back of the chair or the nearby wall to steady herself, but she carries herself forward.  My dear, dear Auntie is one determined lady.

I love to hear her speak of the past, her life continuously revealed to me in layers by stories I had never heard as well as those I will never forget. Her past personal trials, as well as her adventurous travels and Lucille Ball antics charm my heart.  Always able to recite a joke with precision, punch lines totally intact, she is a brightness that fills the room with laughter at a moments notice. A courageous woman who has suffered great losses in her life yet continues to shine.  Her wit is pure and her spirit a delight. My dear, dear Auntie is amazing.

Even the quiet moments with her are full of life and the silence whispers with reflection. And here and now I admit that secretly and with some selfishness…. I randomly seek and discover glimpses of my mother in this woman. Sisters are they, yet Mom departed and when I am around my dear Auntie, I am drawn to her like a moth to the flame.  A connection unspoken, yet even more present than any words could declare. Yes, she is my closest female reminder of Mom and sharing our thoughts, hopes and life is a joy and I believe Mom is smiling as well. My dear, dear Auntie…I love you so.

I Miss You Mom

Dilworth_609     October 13, 1934 is my mother’s birthday. Many years ago I would have gone to the “Five and Ten” store to proudly buy her a pretty pin or some cheap perfume for this special day. Makes me wish for the innocence of yesterday when life was so carefree and I thought she would be with me forever. Sometimes I would craft something for her and it would hang proudly for years- to this day some are still on the walls of the house I grew up in. Seems like yesterday I was a painfully shy little girl in awe of my mother who was so very outgoing and gregarious as she lit up the room with her smile and her stories. She could make everyone laugh and never ever stopped laughing at herself. I miss you Mom.

As I grew older I realized that this woman was really beautiful ( I know all mothers are) but she was seriously very attractive. She modeled some, did local tv commercials and taught “charm school classes” to girls. Mom also opened a health club for women. A woman years ahead of the times she was fearless in her determination to make her mark.

     In my teens, my mom was someone my friends and I could talk to- about anything. She did not always understand us but she would listen. In her own way she was very traditional in her thinking (very unlike me) but I am sure it was her love that helped me grow into my own person.

     Beloved Mema to my children, Mom was the ultimate grandmother. She lived and breathed love for her grandchildren. Upon her passing, my son- a college student at the time- looked at me with great sadness and simply said “ I just lost my best friend.” I knew it was true. They were SNL buddies, calling each other at midnight laughing about the show that was just over. He shared her wit and love for laughter. She had attached herself deeply in his heart. My daughter also shared a very special relationship with my mother. Amazingly they were so very alike in their appreciation for success, always striving to reach further. At times they seemed to butt heads- I think my mother saw herself so clearly reflected in my daughter that Mom sometimes felt driven to push  her even further forward. Oh, but they were powerfully connected and to this day I hold a secret belief that they were once sisters in a previous life.

     Losing your mother. It is tough, very tough no matter how old you are when you lose her. Like the unraveling of a favorite skirt hem, life remains intact but a bit frayed. It hurts, phone calls no longer made and milestones shared only in my heart. I miss you Mom. I thank you for being my mother and a wonderful grandmother to my children. Your life was a gift to us and you have left us with many exquisite memories filled with laughter and love. I think of you daily, and talk with you in my dreams. Happy Birthday…I miss you Mom.

 

Finding My Voice

 

     As a very young child, I was extremely shy. I recall how difficult it was to exchange a hello when introduced to my mother’s friends. I could only whisper my greetings. I knew it should not be difficult, but it was. It was awkward and very uncomfortable.

     My mother was a very extroverted person. She carried herself with confidence and was one of those “life of the party” people. I was so unlike her. My father is an introverted person, one who while quiet in a group- his thoughts always deep and willing to wander beyond the box. I tell you these things about my parents as I wish for you to picture our mealtimes at the table. Mom could always make us laugh and Dad- well he made me question the world around me. So our dinner discussions would include thoughts on life, death, religion, capital punishment, racism…sprinkled in with Mom’s ability to kill a good joke with the punch line too soon. Those dinners taught me something very special to me. They showed me I have the right to think deeply, explore my beliefs and be able to pronounce them aloud. They showed me how to laugh at myself ( as my mother always did) yet have confidence within. Those dinners are where I found my voice.

      As I age, I realize the gift that my parents gave to this very shy, introverted child. They helped me overcome my reservations and become me. As a result, I have been able to use my voice to help others, many in great physical and emotional pain. I feel beyond grateful for the experience. I now know the power of one’s voice.

      Today I find my thoughts always wandering beyond the box. I love to share and receive others’ insights on life, death, religion…I feel strongly compelled to react to racism, intolerance and discrimination. I am able to use my voice and I am not fearful of doing so. I do not feel awkward and uncomfortable unless I stay silent. Ironic isn’t it. So different from that little girl who could hardly whisper hello. And I have learned not to take myself too seriously…I laugh at myself often. I have found my voice. I won’t give it up and I won’t stay silent anymore. Thanks to my mom and dad.